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. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 14th March 2014, 14:30

    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.

  2. Damien Blackman (@hyakuyagami) said on 14th March 2014, 14:31

    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.

  3. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 14th March 2014, 14:32

    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….

  4. iAltair (@ialtair) said on 14th March 2014, 14:33

    Pretty much neutral over this.

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

  5. jeh (@jehjinho) said on 14th March 2014, 14:33

    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…

  6. Kneyfield (@kneyfield) said on 14th March 2014, 14:34

    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.

  7. hamilz0rs said on 14th March 2014, 14:34

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

  8. andae23 (@andae23) said on 14th March 2014, 14:38

    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.

  9. kpcart said on 14th March 2014, 14:38

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

  10. jose kowalsky said on 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.

  11. Verstappen GP (@verstappengp) said on 14th March 2014, 14:45

    It sound good, but not as good as the V10. If they can get rid of the sort of vacuum cleaning sound which I think comes from the electric motors they would sound better. Love the turbo sound.

  12. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 14th March 2014, 14:45

    I like the new sound, sure the scream of an atmospheric V12, V10 or even a V8 will always sound much better but I can see myself getting used to the new sound. Love the sound when they are in low revs.

    I didn’t vote ‘very good’ because that simply isn’t the case, ‘good’ is exactly what these power units deserve.

  13. Mike (@anotherproblem) said on 14th March 2014, 14:49

    I like the sound, they’re just a bit too quiet on the TV – I’ve not been near one in the flesh so I don’t know about that so maybe it’s the way the microphones pick them up.

    As for people saying “F1 is about the screaming engines” just go away and sit in a corner. F1 isn’t about what you want, it is what it is, it changes, it evolves. Get over it.

    • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 14th March 2014, 15:26

      Don’t think there’s any need to be so dismissive (much alike Claire Williams and Toto Wolff).

      It’s definitely a part of F1’s DNA from the get-go. The volume is simply a part of it.

      It honestly reminded me more of Formula E. I could hear the tyre screetches. It sounded like a go kart when cornering.

      The engines DO sound nice, though. I honestly can barely hear them. It’s very disappointing, and I can’t shake it off.

      And maybe people will ‘get over it’, and start watching endurance racing or IndyCar.

      It’s really not a great attitude to have, and could be quite harmful if they don’t listen and respond appropriately.

  14. Michael Brown said on 14th March 2014, 14:50

    I’ve only heard sounds via YouTube and I’m not planning on going to any races this year (possibly New Jersey next year). I like the sound, but it’s too quiet. From a trackside video comparing 2013 to 2014, last years engines made a distinct echo as they went past you which is lost on these engines.

    I’ll save my vote for after the race.

  15. AJ (@av2290) said on 14th March 2014, 14:51

    The turbo whines sound like a dentist drill. Sometimes unlistenable for me. The main issue for me is that loudness equates to “feeling it in your chest”. I hope that the new engines are equal to the V8’s in that department. Can anyone at Albert Park comment on that?

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