(The Daily Mail) The old FIA president’s conversation topics were as catholic as usual: judges, whose ranks he half-wished he had joined rather than been lured by motor racing from an early career at the bar; newspaper editors and proprietors, whose journals he has waged war upon; Bernie Ecclestone, his old mucker who finds himself in a spot of bother with the German constabulary.
But it was on the subject of Formula One’s engine development that he made his most pertinent contribution. He clearly felt that the sport’s current governors might have articulated the need for energy recovery era more forcefully.
‘If anybody should be “blamed” it’s me,’ he said wryly of the move to V6 turbos this seasons.
‘We were the ones who looked at bringing in the new technology. It was 10 years in the making, and I actually like the noise.
‘I wear these things in both my ears (hearing aids) because the noise of the engines went right through me for 40 years or more. It’s too late to save my hearing but not for the next generation. The quieter engines are better for families. You can take children to races without fear of their being deafened.
‘It is important for Formula One to evolve. Safety was the big challenge of the 20th Century and the environment is the big challenge of the 21st. If that that fact is not understood and embraced, the sport runs the risk of becoming irrelevant.
‘Corporate social responsibility is important for car manufacturers, so there is a need to move in this direction so the sport does not lose sponsors and manufacturers. They see how important this technology is in the development of road cars.
‘If there is one thing I feel could have been done better it is how the new regulations, and the reasons behind them, have been explained to the public. An opportunity has been missed.’