Ferrari is ramping up the pressure on Formula One authorities to change the sport’s rules, saying a company survey shows most fans are unhappy with the new direction of the sport.
Ferrari released the findings Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, where its cars are expected to again be off the pace shown by front-running Mercedes.
The release of the survey follows a meeting between Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo and F1’s commercial powerbroker, Bernie Ecclestone. They are expected to meet with FIA president Jean Todt in Bahrain this weekend to press for changes.
Ferrari said it received more than 50,000 replies to its online survey, and said 83 per cent of respondents said they were unhappy with the new rules, “mainly because of the drivers being forced to lift off to save fuel.”
“In addition, the fans don’t like the noise from the new engines and are confused by rules that are too complicated,” Ferrari said.
The major changes to the sport’s rules this year are the introduction of 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged engines with associated use of battery-stored power harvested from the kinetic energy generated by braking and the heat energy of exhaust.
There is also a limit of 100 kilograms of fuel per car, with usage capped at a rate of 100 kilograms per hour. With races generally lasting between 90 minutes and two hours, much of the car’s power must therefore come from the stored power.
While it may prove too difficult to agree on changing those rules this season, a possible way around it could be getting an agreement to cut race distances, meaning more power could come from the standard combustion engine and less from the battery power, freeing drivers to push harder and attempt more overtaking moves.
Ecclestone had always been against the engine changes, and has received backing from those unhappy at the muted sound of the cars, and the pattern of racing in which cars circulate in formation for long periods of the race as a way of preserving fuel.
Chief among the teams urging change to the rules are Ferrari, which has struggled in the first two races of 2014, and Red Bull, which has already fallen foul of the new fuel regulations. Daniel Ricciardo was stripped of his second-place finish in his home grand prix in Australia because the team exceeded fuel-flow rates.