Do F1’s new engines have the right sound?

Debates and Polls

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?

  1. Wonderduck (@wonderduck) said on 14th March 2014, 13:56

    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.

  2. sushant008 (@sushant008) said on 14th March 2014, 13:58

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

  3. markyrc (@markyrc) said on 14th March 2014, 13:58

    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.

  4. tristanh (@tristanh) said on 14th March 2014, 13:59

    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!

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 14th March 2014, 14:39

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

      • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 18th March 2014, 9:10

        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.

  5. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 14th March 2014, 14:03

    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!

  6. Ian Wilkins (@capt-wilko) said on 14th March 2014, 14:04

    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!

  7. Julien (@jlracing) said on 14th March 2014, 14:04

    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.

  8. evered7 (@evered7) said on 14th March 2014, 14:06

    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.

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

  10. HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th March 2014, 14:09

    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.

  11. avl0 said on 14th March 2014, 14:11

    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.

  12. Ricardo Marques (@rbgivesuwings) said on 14th March 2014, 14:20

    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).

  13. Ean (@ean) said on 14th March 2014, 14:22

    The Blancpain endurance championship cars sounds better

  14. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall) said on 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.

  15. 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.

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