Formula One: Pat Symonds urges all to focus on positives of new turbo era

MANAMA (Reuters) - Formula One needs to focus on the positives of its new turbo era rather than talking itself down, Williams technical head Pat Symonds said on Friday.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix, Symonds warned that criticism of the rule changes from within the sport risked a backlash similar to that faced by British jeweller Gerald Ratner in 1991, when he wiped millions off his firm's value with a speech to business leaders that mocked both his merchandise and customers' taste.

"We are in a good place and as a business we should focus on the positives," Symonds told a news conference after Friday practice. "I think many people in Britain will remember a guy called Ratner who basically killed his business by negative comments on it. We should be positive. We've done something good and we should tell the world about it."

Formula One ditched the old 2.4 litre V8 engines at the end of last season and replaced them with a new 1.6 litre V6 turbo power unit with systems harnessing exhaust gases and kinetic energy from the brakes. The result has been much quieter cars that must now complete races with 30 per cent less fuel in a bid to become more environmentally-friendly and road-relevant.

Critics, such as Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, have condemned the new sound and the formula that puts an emphasis on fuel economy rather than outright speed.

Symonds, a former Benetton and Renault technical director, said the new technology was impressive and necessary.

He said: "The road car industry, rightly or wrongly, has to hit CO2 per km targets, and they will have to employ technology such as what we are using in Formula One. So we are moving forwards, we are more relevant than we used to be.

"There was a great danger that we would become irrelevant, that we would become the focus of gas-guzzling and not having social responsibility. I think it was really important that we did move away from that."