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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Image © Force India

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

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  1. As long as the racing is good, I’m fine with the new engines. Quieter engines are probably a good idea for those actually watching a race in the flesh too!

  2. Well, I have some good comparison material
    I have been to the German Gp last year and to the pre-season test at Jerez this year
    I have to say the difference between the V6 and the V8 is huge.
    The V8’s are screaming and the V6’s have a deeper sound, but both are special
    The V8’s were as loud as you could get, but as I didn’t have earplugs, my ears were annoyed after a day of F1 action. Though they were very impressive, you could hear the cars from miles away.
    The V6 is very enjoyable to listen to. You hear much more different sounds. At full speed the cars still sound incredible, not screaming but a more heavy noise. As the cars are breaking you hear a sort of wizz, in the middle of the corner the cars sound like a standing aeroplane , and you hear the turbo and ERS working together with the engine when the cars accelerate.

    Although the sound is very different, it is still unique and impressive in my opinion
    I have to make one remak. TV viewers might be disappointed with the sound, but in real life
    the sound is much better. I think they have to tweak the TV coverage a bit because on
    TV the cars don’t sound at all like in real life.

  3. I love the Merc growl. Seems very different to the other two. These sounds are actually hearable. I think in the past the excitement was about how loud the sound was but not we need to be accustomed to the growl that can be heard in full.

    Definitely prefer the newer ones. This is all based on TV sounds.

    1. The Merc is definitely the nicest in my opinion. The onboards sound great.

    2. Lewis Hamilton does not like the sound on the new Merc

  4. Yes, I would trade them for NA V12 in a second I still like the sound

  5. It’s different, so what, the high frequency, high volume shriek of the V8’s was exciting but quickly became tedious, the new sound might lack a little in excitement and volume but it is an interesting powerful sound that will be less tedious to listen to all race long. I think it is good.

  6. To be honest i don’t really like it, the turbo sounds quite good but it’s just very quiet from onboard. However, i think that this is the direction f1 has to go and recovering energy means less created as noise. In engineering form follows function and is often beautiful as a result and i think eventually the same will be true of the engines. Its better this way than staying with an outdated formula. Maybe they’ll be able to gradually raise the rev limit or something to help.

  7. i love the sound, though that doesn’t mean it’s better then the previous year’s sound. the sound of that turbo is awesome i think. plus u get to here the power of the engine with it being overwhelming (imo better then you could before).

  8. The Blancpain endurance championship cars sounds better

  9. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    14th March 2014, 14:27

    Onboard they sounded quite good but when you see them on the normal TV cameras they sound quite lame if I am honest. On balance, gave them average.

  10. I’ve never been a fan of having the noise of a Formula One engine rip through your very soul so I find these new engines a significant improvement. Don’t get me wrong, on TV they do sound very quiet, but I like the fact you can now go and watch F1 live without needing ear defence.

    And despite the slightly down heartening quieter noise on TV it gives you a chance to hear all of the other going’s on during a practice/qualifying session or a race. Just watching practice alone earlier I really enjoyed actually being able to hear the drivers comments on team radio as well as the tyre squeals from all around the circuit and the many other noises that you usually can’t hear because of the scream of the engine.

  11. I love the sound, I just wish it they could turn the volume up a bit.

    Although I do really like being able to hear the tyres squealing under braking and the team radios are now a lot clearer.

    1. @magnificent-geoffrey – How odd that we both posted a comment near enough exactly the same within a minute of each other :P

  12. I am a bit on the fence with the noise. I went to Austin GP and you could hear the V8s screaming from a mile away. You just got a sense of power from the sound.

    These new engines don’t sound bad to me, but I just don’t get the same sense of power from them.

    I have a feeling we will all get used to them very quickly though.

  13. I went for average. I like the sound but as others have said, it’s all far too quiet. On TV, you could hardly hear when they went past the camera!

    In general, the sound isn’t that important to me but it has to sound right for the start. Seeing them all sat on the grid reving like mad always made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I hope that hasn’t been lost….

  14. Pretty much neutral over this.

    I can trade engine noise for engine performance. That is what pinnacle of motor sport should be.

  15. Very, very disappointed with the TV sound. That came as a surprise after the footage from testing, which sounded pretty good most of the times. There must be something wrong in the way they’re capturing the sound…

  16. I voted for “average”, but only because the engines are so quiet (at least on TV). What I got to see on today’s P2 on SKY, I was really disappointed by the pitifully silent engines.

    From what I saw in videos recorded at tests in Jerez and Bahrain, the engines create a nice sound. Yeah, it was different and it will take a while to become accustomed to it. If broadcast sound engineers are able to enhance the volume of the engines, I would cheerfully upgrade my vote to “good”.

    Maybe I’ll have a different answer, when I have the chance to hear them live at the Austrian GP later in the season.

  17. The onboard sound like the horrible vuvuzelas are back.
    The outer microphones I haven’t heard.

  18. 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.

    That. I find it amazing that people can judge the sound level of an engine when they’ve never actually heard it.

    1. It’s pretty straightforward, to be honest:

      I now have to turn the volume up extremely loud to hear the cars. I didn’t last year.

  19. for onboard sounds, maybe f1 should use the goldstar onboard camera system

  20. jose kowalsky
    14th March 2014, 14:38

    Regarding the sound of the current f1 engines I heard some silly comments., like: I really like it because I canbe at the track without ear plugs. Are you sserious? Are you happy to save 4 dollars on the plugs!!!
    I am going to make a comment every fan can relate to. Do you remember the first time you went to a circuit to watch a race? You were young, maybe your father brook you. You saw the cars on TV before, but you weren’t sure if they were just part of your imagination, or were real.
    You can’t sleep the night before, because of the excitment, wake up very early and drive. It doesn’t matter how early, you don’t feel three. When you get to the race track, there is already people around, a lot of traffic. Should we have waken up earlier? Would I miss something. It is Saturday, and when you are walking in the parking lot, you hear a sound that’s out of this world. How can this be you wonder. We are so far away from the track and they sound like they are just around the corner. You start walking faster, like everybody else around you. Everybody has the sensation they are missing something important. The sound becomes even stronger as you get closer. You start to wonder, what is the first carmimam going to see live. Would it be senna in the McLaren, or man sell my favorite. The new fans this year I am sorry to see they are going to be deprived of that feeling, that you only get once in your live as a fan.

    1. I went to my 1st. race before we had TV in Australia, there have been many sounds of F1, only in the last few years has there been a unique F1 sound.

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