Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Albert Park, 2014

Do F1’s new engines have the right sound?

Debates and PollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Albert Park, 2014Formula One’s new engines have been in action at a race weekend for the first time today.

The new V6 turbo engines are quieter than the V8s they replace – the FIA puts the difference at around 11 decibels. The sound itself is different as well – for one thing, there are two fewer cylinders, and the turbo has also changed the sound which is produced.

So far we’ve only heard the engines during practice – it remains to be seen (or heard) what 22 of them revving up at once at the start of the race will sound and feel like.

But the change has already provoked strong feelings on both sides of the argument. Here’s a sample of some of the feedback on F1 Fanatic:


I was there today and there was a noticeable difference in the sound. It was remarkably different that some of the guys I was with who are regulars each year commented on how the cars are quieter.

Then we had confirmation, they did a speed comparison and a 2013-spec Red Bull with V8 engine roared to life and stormed around the track confirming that this years V6s are quieter and by a margin.

Personally it will not detract from why I watch F1 for, and if I’m honest, I was more comfortable at the track this year without needing ear plugs, and having normal conversations while cars were whizzing past.

I was out at Albert Park today and was happily surprised at the sound of the new power units.

A lot is being lost in what you hear on television. I got home in time to watch second practice and the sound was very different. There you can hear the whine of the turbo as they pull out of corners, the odd new noises of the regenerative breaking… I love it.

Sure it’s different but don’t knock it until you’ve actually been 20 metres away from one.
Travis Humphery (@Travis)

I just can’t understand why quieter is worse.

To me, the new sound is great. It is in fact quieter, which means people on site may well stop using earplugs, so they will hear more, much more! We TV viewers may well hear the crowd better, the radio, the tyres, the mechanics…

And any fat, deep noise is better than a blunt squeal in my book. I am all for it.


Was at Albert Park this morning for most of first and second practice, at close range (trackside) they sound ok and its quite interesting to actually be able to tyre squeal on lock-ups etc.

However, its just lacks that sense of enormous power that the noise of the V8′s gave off. From a further distance wandering around the circuit they sound mightily unimpressive, reminded me of lawnmowers, my wife said they sounded like trucks…
Marcus Hand (@Wombat1m)

I was watching second practice on TV this morning and the cars sound awful on TV and onboard cameras, very quiet and uninspiring and I cant stand the way the engines do not rev at all.

You could now easily confuse the sound they let off with any other lesser formula. Has totally taken something away from F1 that I have come to love over the years. Disappointed to say the least.

After watching first practice the sound is really horrible in my honest opinion. I thought it will be more of a deeper tone like the sport cars.

I’m truly disappointed.

Over to you

What do you think of the new engine sound? Do you think concern over the lack of noise will only be temporary?

Cast your vote and have your say below.

The new F1 engines sound...

  • Very good (14%)
  • Good (33%)
  • Average (19%)
  • Poor (18%)
  • Very poor (12%)
  • No opinion (3%)

Total Voters: 700

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231 comments on “Do F1’s new engines have the right sound?”

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      1. The shrieking terrorising sound of the f1 car is a huge part of what makes f1 the pinnacle of motorsports for me. As one of the commentators pointed out, now the cars sound too much like sports car. It just feels wrong to see an f1 car so quite. When i see the onboard i seems like the drivers are taking it way to easy.
        i feel like i am watching something in the lower categories and not the pinnacle of motorsports.

        1. They sound like GP2 cars don’t they

          1. Paul Sainsbuy
            14th March 2014, 14:47

            Actually GP2 cars now sound WAY better…….

          2. GP2 cars sound much better

        2. How are quieter engines not the pinnacle of motorsport?

          If you have two cars travelling extremely faster and one is quieter than the other then from an engineer perspective the quieter car is the is more likely to represent the pinnacle.

          If F1 can help push the cars forward then to me it represents motorsport very well. 20 cars travelling at 200mph and making hardly any noise would be incredible.

          1. case in point, the muffled lemans diesels that keep winning.

          2. @sircoolbeans That’s exactly as I see it, all of that noise the old engines made was wasted energy and represented failure from an engineering perspective. The engines are now better and the side effect is they are less noisy.

            I’d rather F1 was actually the pinnacle of motorsport rather than pretending it was. How many people complain about F1 becoming a show rather than a sport and yet are also criticising the engines for being too good! The engineds are more powerful, faster and more efficient so what’s to complain about.

          3. Yeah, the Audis just breeze past you, quite astonishing to watch.

          4. andre (@f1follower12)
            14th March 2014, 20:05

            they are a lot slower than the v8s looking at the lap times, even if we are talking about new cars.

          5. I completely agree, the quieter, more powerful engines are actually more impressive. I’ve gone to the Petite Le Mans here in Atlanta when the Audi’s and Peugeots were running and It was so eerily wild to watch the Audi’s go by running those incredible laps yet being quieter than everything around them.

            @f1follower12 I think it’s a bit early to decide the cars are slower. The teams are still working their setups and getting started. And even if they are slower on a lap, that’s a matter of reduced down force! It has nothing to do with the new engines which happen to be more powerful.

        3. +1 I agree with Brundle as well.

        4. With that logic NHRA Top Fuel would be the pinnacle of motorsport ;) Ear protection is never good enough when around them and the ‘sound’ is so big it concusses your body. I loved the old engine sound but as a big fan of turbo charging I can appreciate the sounds the new power units make. Also, one of the main things I like about F1 is the engineering challenge, so all of these changes at once have made the new season very interesting IMO.

      2. You know, If FIA decides to increase the RPMs to 18000 or so, these engines will sound amazing! The scream will be back and it will still be green. That’s what is probably going to happen once FIA realize that the engines are reliable enough. I expect the regulation change in 2016.

        1. I doubt it, the engines are allowed to rev to 15,000rpm but I don’t think they’ll even be hitting that anyway since they can hit maximum fuel flow from 10,000rpm and there is no shortage of torque.

        2. Yes I also hope and believe higher revs are coming! What I don’t understand, though, is why the engines don’t sound like the CART/Indycar 2.65L V8s of the late 90’s/early 2000’s. They had big turbochargers sitting in the exhausts but they sounded fantastic. That was what I was expecting, not this flat, fart-y sound. And the revs on them were similar too with a redline around 14,500rpm.

          1. Because they’re V6s?

          2. Yeah that would make some difference, as flat-crank V8s have a great shriek, but nothing this dramatic… they are completely flat. I’ve heard turbo-4s even sound much better than these V6s

        3. What I hear, besides the flat and comparatively empty tone, is that the engines are not revving anywhere near as high as they need to, and no doubt can. It sounds like the engines are almost cruising, certainly not screaming in the much-loved F1 tradition. There’s a lack of tension resulting from this, along with what’s going to be diminished interest in the sport I fear.

          Waiting until 2016 is much too long to fix this, better this year if it can be done reliably, say after the summer break.

      3. Watching on tv you can hardly hear the cars.
        I already know 3 people who are not going to Sundays race due to the lack of noise.
        They’ve wasted their money.
        Anyone who says the unique noise isn’t part of F1 is delusional.

        1. Agreed. The V6 Turbos are straight trash! I’m at least hoping they can figure out some type of filtering device that they can apply on the cars to give them some resemblance of sounds of the V8’s (Wishful Thinking I know).

          1. I got an idea. You know how some cars now pump engine sounds through the audio speakers? Well, just do the same. Have some mics on the cars (or an MP3 of the old V12s) and play the sound over the PA system at the races. RIP F1.

      4. The sound that F1 cars used to make is very much part of the reason why I become an F1 fan.

      5. They killed f1 these cars sound absolutley horrid!!!!

      1. First they mess up the looks, then they bring in gimmicks like DRS, then Double points and now the sound is gone. whats next? medals for winners or artificial sprinklers? I dont want to sound like a whining f1 snob but i am certain the majority of f1 fans feel the same way.

        1. Well, you’re wrong. Look at the percentages.

          1. @mashiat

            Well, you’re wrong. Look at the percentages.

            Average and Less = 49%
            Good & Very good = 49%

          2. Most of the voters are not young. They have their nostalgia to help them accept and love the new sounds. That does not exist for the younger generation and. But that set is a minority on this site.

          3. Exactly, not a majority. Plus, some people voting average may have just been thinking of a direct comparison to last year. For example, “I’ll vote average because I don’t find them any better or worse”.

          4. @rojov123 I’m 23 years old, so the Turbo era died before I was born. It may be a bit of a sweeping statement to say it’s only the older voters voting positively…I mean, I love the sounds, and frankly felt that the V8 era was an over-long stopover in engine development. I enjoyed the freedom and variety there was in the early ’90s, and could never resist the scream of the old V10s (the BMW was spectacular!), but I always felt a little (comparatively) underwhelmed by the V8s.

            Knowing that the whole world is being dragged inexorably towards the ‘greener’ perspective, and hearing F1 sounding like it is whilst conforming to newer and more environmentally-friendly regulations, I have a good feeling for the foreseeable future of the sport, at least in terms of the power units we now use.

            I can’t wait until Sunday morning when we will hear the whole grid lined up and in beautiful musical harmony!

          5. Good & v good 48%
            Average 19 %
            Poor & v poor 40%
            No opinion 3%

            So not a landslide, but more have a favourable opinion than unfavourable… Or to use your skewing of the stats against you, v. Good, good and average = 67%

          6. Oops, forgive my maths… 30% are poor and v. Poor, so it actually is a landslide (or at least 2:1 in favour with approx 20% on the fence, which is enough to win any general election except maybe Venezuela, eh Pastor?). ;)

        2. I absolutely agree. From the days I watched F1 as a kid, it has always felt epic, on edge, or even dangerous. For me, the sounds of the old 12 cyl. Ferrari’s and the screaming V10’s gave F1 a special place in all motorsport. The cars are no longer distinguishable from other series as far as sound goes. Although I like the loss of downforce this year, the new engines sound crappy compared to almost any other F1 car in 30 years. I’m disappointed….

          1. +1 – that is the main issue for me – they’re no longer distinguishable from other series. F1 was always special, and the whooshing and ERS sounds are cool but by no means unique.

        3. @aimalkhan – Everything else you mention affects the actual racing or the points whereas the sound affects nothing but your subjective experience. If you want to compare the sound the engines make, compare it to the teams changing the colour of their livery to something you don’t like.

    1. The onboard acceleration up through the gears reminds me of the noise from onboard footage of a MotoGP bike .

      They sound ok, but lack volume I think

      1. you can buy a 600cc sport bike that sounds a lot better than an F1 car, like the Yamaha R6. Seeing as how the cars lost two pistons and only rev to about 11k rpm, yeah, it sounds pretty bad, at least the FIA managed to get rid of cars like Honda’s HSV.

        At least there is still Super Formula (Nippon) ,.. no … doh, they got to that one too, RAWR!!!!, at least the Aussies had enough sense to include V8 in their branding scheme :)

      2. Just what I think. Sometimes it looks like a motorbike…something is missing for sure.

    2. I love the sound and what I love even more is how you can now hear the tyres screaming when they begin slipping.


        The on-board sounds are terribly muted, like people say it just sounds like a lesser formula now. This is volume – turn up your amplifiers and bathe in the glory of the mighty V10. simply beautiful! Click the link to see.

        1. That video took me back to my childhood days in 2004, when I first discovered F1, with Schumi plundering his way to the title, race after race. I miss that V10.

          The V6 ain’t bad, just needs more volume. That, and the FOM needs better microphones and sound engineers.

    3. @aimalkhan @keithcollantine I agree. I changed my opinion to liking the new sound to not liking the new sound, after the 2 FP. Simply put the sound is anti-climatic as aimalkhan says it just lacks volume. The tyre squealing is terrifying it activates the part of my brain that triggers fear!

    4. The magic is gone with no more loudness. Stupidity by FIA like so many other of the 2014 regulations. I would say that the eco-drive crap is the worst but the lack of loudness is not far off. Sad times.

    5. To be brutally honest, the sound is like formula ford and it’s positively underwhelming. They need to fix this ASAP otherwise people won’t attend. Very very disappointed. Live from Albert Park at PS and Qualifying!!!

    6. Peter OReilly
      15th March 2014, 16:13

      Quiet better than Noisy.
      What are you talking about ? ? ?
      If you are a petrol head half the buzz of driving and seeing a fast car is the sound it makes ! !
      I have been a F1 fan for over 10 years and watching the qualifying today was very disappointing only due to the rubbish noise these cars make.
      All I could hear was the commentator with a quiet
      rumble and whistle in the background.
      I thought there was a problem with my TV.
      Gutted ! !

    7. The best sounding thing on an F1 weekend will now be (cough) the Mercedes pace car, assuming a restart, and the Ferraris in the warmup races. They sound like anemic vacuum cleaners. Where’s the banshee scream that drew me to the sport in the late 80’s? Between that and the Nascar’esque double points last race I am seriously wondering about the sport I love so much.

    8. I hate the new sound. It would de differant if they were to run the engines 18K But 10-11K!!!!! I thought i was watching an indi car.

    9. These F1’s are doing the same lap speeds as the F3000 of ten years ago?! Is this still Formula 1?

      1. Are you deliberately choosing to ignore how close they were to last years times in Bahrain testing?

    10. Close your eyes and they sound like the current Indycars. Terrible for F1.

  1. I miss the excitement of a screaming engine

    1. Completely agree. The new engines don’t give me that excitement that the old engines gave me. That sound was a staple of F1 and even from home gave me the chills hearing the start. These engines don’t sound bad, but they don’t give me a rush like the old ones did.

    2. Fully agree… what is F1 if you cannot hear the sound from a mile away… These sound like kittens (referring to the p-word)

      1. Yup the walk across the bridge to the Île Notre-Dame will no longer be the same…

    3. I’m sitting at Turns 1-2 and the sound of the cars under braking and acceleration is pleasing and it sounds like a “real” race car.
      But most people are here to have their faces turned to a mix of pain/amazement when an F1 car goes past; now when they go past the reaction is one of mild satisfaction.

      I never thought I’d be so eager to watch the ultimate speed comparison with the old V8 engine, and it’s a bit sad I can’t hear the new F1 cars from the other side of the circuit :(

    4. That has always been one of the essences of the Formula One experience for me. With the V10s (and still the V8s), it created this all-encompassing bubble of sound. When it approaches your seat, it sounds like an angry hell-beast that’s coming closer and closer, while you can’t even see it yet. When it passes, you are in this bubble of sound in which nothing else exists but the raw power of this Formula One engine. When I read that people are now able to talk to each other, it means that Formula One has lost its all-encompassing ‘nothing exists but this car’ power and that’s a real shame.

      I do like that you can now hear more parts working, like the brakes and the tire screeches. It feels more mechanical.

      Of course Formula One is still (one of the) pinnacles of motorsport in the sound department, but it is definitely not on another level anymore. It has turned from this otherworldly hell beast into a grizzly bear: still something formidable, but just not the same.

  2. I really like the noise itself, there just isn’t enough of it.

    1. Exactly. Brundle said it on the broadcast and I agree as well. It’s a good sound just not loud enough. Its very mechanical and throaty but needs more volume to get the vibrations going.

      1. ……..if its sound and vibrations you desire then I would strongly urge you to go and sit trackside at a Top Fuel drag race meeting!!! You are 4 metres away from the track and the ground and whole stands are shaking from engine noise! You will love it, and its only 25 smackers entrance fee at Santa Pod.

        1. I’ve done that many times, its amazing. I’m looking forward to the new cars in Montreal.
          At least one upside of quieter engines will be the turbo and tire sounds.

    2. Yep that’s exactly my view on it as well.

      Do I like the new sound of F1? Yes
      Do I like the volume? Noooo…..

    3. I think this year the engine noise is “special” by itself, as last year’s V8’s had their special noise. It is not that I do not like it nor that I do not miss the V8’s, but I somewhat like this special noise… except for the Renault engine, it sounded horrible when watching on-board.

  3. I like the sound. Onboard it has a much rougher, bassy sound while on tv you can hear the whirs and whizzes on downshift into corners. The whole thing sounds kinda futuristic to me, like you can hear all the new technology working together to make the cars go fast.
    I’ll miss the wall of sound the old engines make, but I’m quickly getting used the the new sounds. It’s good, not better, not worse but definitely different.

    1. I think the broadcaster needs to turn the mic volume up. Bttc cars are surely quiter, yet on tv they sound louder than the f1 cars. Its all down to the sound guy not boosting the volume enough.

      1. I thought the same. The broadcast is doing these engines no favours! I still think the high revving sound was part of the uniqueness of F1 and it will be missed.

    2. but I’m quickly getting used the the new sounds

      @colossal-squid Congratulations, Toto Wolff likes you!

  4. Too early to judge, I have only heard clips on youtube, tomorrow morning I can tell something after qualifing

  5. The engines have this amazing rumble when off-throttle, and they kinda sound like jets when accelerating. I like how they sound. They just don’t make enough of it. That’s the biggest fault of the new V6s, they need to be a bit louder.

    1. @seyrine You make a balanced point

  6. All F1 engines sound amazing in my view. I love the difference in the engines, the only issue I have is that they’re a bit quiet for my liking. This will probably be worse at a more open track like COTA or Malaysia.

  7. They sound silly, weak and gutless. F1 is about extremes and the engine noise is/was part of that.

    1. Extreme inefficiency maybe….

      1. Your point? You really think F1 cars using 1/3 less fuel is going to save the planet? Wake up.

        1. Its about the technology that the fuel restrictions foster growth in, not just the 22 cars running around the track. Love it or hate it energy recovery and smaller turbo engines are the future and they will help to save the planet.

          Plus the 400+bhp per litre before the electrical system is amazing, and that’s where a lot of the sound has gone.

        2. It’s not about saving the planet though; it’s an engineering exercise to improve efficiency for the sake of performance

        3. Any sound escaping from the engine via the exhausts is wasted energy. From an engineering point of view, a quiet car is working at its best.

  8. I like the sound, although I really wish FOM would give us a better listen to it with some updated mic hardware. There’s a definite difference between the noise which was being captured by the mics used by the journalists at the tests, and the ambient trackside mics used by FOM. I felt like the sound seemed quite muted on the FP coverage and lacked a lot of the detail, especially the turbo spool noises and the whine from the energy recovery systems. But even still, I think it’s a massive improvement over the shrill noise of the old V8s. The V10s used to have a much more pleasing timbre, while to me the V8s were just flat noise. So it’s good to have a bit of tonal variation back through the rev range, and generally I think it’s a really pleasing noise.

    I always preferred a deep power chord to a string quartet

    1. @mazdachris, your comment got me thinking, I wonder if the trackside mics are attenuated in the lower frequencies so as not to pick up any naughty words spoken by trackworkers or very loud fans and therefore not giving us the full range/volume of sound emitted by the new engines, apparently people trackside are getting a lot more variation in the sound than I am getting from my TV (it has large speakers and excellent sound unless compared with high end seperates).

    2. It occurred to me that Bernie was quite deliberately keeping the sound crap to score a cheap point. Also, poor recording doesn’t explain the poor mixing on behalf of Sky – why can’t they ramp up the volume of the feed before talking over it?

  9. from outside the car they sound pretty good, much like indycar, but I think indycar might be louder…
    from onboard, they sound terrible, mainly because they sound less exciting then many lower tier series like gp2 and gp3, I don’t think they even sound as good as the 80s f1 turbos from onboard, maybe the camera the cameras are placed wrong and picking up to much turbo whistle.

    1. here is a decent comparison video of a 2014 Mercedes v6 turbo at jerez, and a 2013 Williams Renault v8 both in same section of Jerez track during past 2 years testing. the only thing the video doesn’t show well is the lower volume

  10. To be honest I didn’t enjoy the sound @ FP1 but in the last 30 min of FP2 I got used to it, so I think after a few races many though will miss V8 but will get used to the new power plants.

    1. You said it right.
      There was the wonderful thing about the old high revving engines that I found enjoyable, such that if I found myself napping, especially for these early hours races, the moment I pick up the sound of the engines, I’d wake up immediately. But with these new ones, even the commentators seem to be whispering so as not to drown out the sound of the engines.

  11. I like the sound, but do wish that the rev limit was 18000 instead of 15000. I think then the cars would have that perfect rumble.
    I heard Kimi’s Ferrari pull into the pits, and dat whistle…..great sound.

    1. @strikeforce, none of the cars are reving much above 10000, because thats where max fuel use happens and therefore max power and above 10000 reliability will decrease for no gain in power.

      1. True, qualifying may get here tomorrow and then everyone will be happy with the sound, as they’re using more of the power. I’m just anxious for the race!

        1. 18000 + more fuel is what it needs, slowly reducing fuel limits year by year giving time to perfect technologies.

        2. @strifeforce, the sound on the video of Q3 in the round up is vastly superior to the FOM broadcast sound, check it out.

  12. I like all the different systems in the power unit adding new layers to the sound. I find it interesting and so far I’m liking it.

  13. For those who remember, how does the sound actually compare witht he turbos of the 80s? Do they still rev a lot lower than the cars from that era?

    Whilst I have not been able to really have a good listen yet (I will reserve any judgement till race day) if they sound similar to the turbos of old and a period in F1 which is often glorified, how can anyone say they are “not F1”?

    1. @mach1 I think the rev issue is a bit of a red herring. It wasn’t until the mid eighties that Renault were able to develop the first engine to hit 12,500rpm (much lower than the current limit) and the revs didn’t go much above that until well into the later part of the nineties when the big increase in revs occurred to get to where we were for the last few years.

      I can’t say first hand how the sound compares as I never attended a GP until 2004 so would depend on TV sound to compare and that is heavily dependent on sound technology so not a fair comparison.

  14. First footages I’ve seen show appalling onboard sounds. But I’m confident they will tweak and remaster the levels to produce something acceptable for broadcast, so, in a sense, yes I think it will be temporary.
    But we have no choice anyway, and resignation can’t really be called ‘people will get used to it’.
    At least, the sound is not my primary concern for F1.

  15. I love the new sound. The V8 shriek may as well have been someone sticking a dentist’s drill into my ears. By comparison, the V6Ts grumble-and-whine sounds like sweet sweet music.

  16. On-board footage is not that promising. They sound very similar to this. Not the sound I was expecting :(

    1. I prefer the indycar sound, less noise from the turbocharger.

      1. Exactly. IndyCar sounds better for me.

  17. The FP1 was really strange to watch, at certain points you just couldn’t hear the cars at all. That said, I think this new F1 sound is actually good, it could be a little louder, but that’s okay, because it makes possible to hear the tyres squealing, and that’s kind of an entirely new experience for me in F1.

  18. OK, lets be blunt- the new engines lack the shear volume and intensity of the old V8s. People saying that they can hold conversations near the track suggests that this year you won’t feel the sound through your body when a car goes past, but last year my ears were ringing for hours after a single day at Silverstone (I forgot my ear plugs!) and you only have to watch coverage to see that people who spend their lives around the old style F1 engines have seriously damaged their hearing. It did make for a good spectacle though!
    The thing is, we F1 fans like to claim that our sport is the pinnacle of motor racing technology, but with the Audis tripping around Le Mans year after year the naturally aspirated V8 didn’t qualify as high tech except that it revved higher than anything should ever have to. Yes the sound lacks the intensity that we as fans loved, but now we have depth. Listen to the whine of the turbo and the deeper roar of the exhaust, hear the turbo spool down when the car stops, and tyre screeches. In my entire life of watching F1 I have never heard a tortured tyre midcorner before.
    I think we have gained much more than we have lost, and F1 motors have finally become a serious talking point, which in a motor sport seems like a great thing!

    1. Very close to my thoughts, although I will reserve opinion until I hear them properly, not through PC speakers at work…

      1. OK, after the race, I am overall happy with the sound. There are so many more nuances, as said above, like tyres, turbo, MGU’s. Hearing the cars set off from the pits brought a huge grin to my face every time!

        I do think FOM need to sort out the levels of the sound for TV. This will go a long way to appeasing the audience.

        Obviously, I can’t comment on the sound at the track.

  19. I was never crazy on the V8’s sound. Yeah, it was more high pitched, but so what? The new engines to my ears are more interesting, and it can sound totally different one moment to the next depends on the amount of revs.

    I do think it comes across differently on TV however, and there needs to an increase in engine-to-environment ratio volume wise. Because the pitch is lower it doesn’t quite cut through. I don’t know if they have mics on track side, or if the sound is just from the camera, but they should crank the whole thing up!

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