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. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. I’ve got to add this: To those saying they sound silent on TV, listen and look at this, that’s not silent is it?

      1. Michael Brown
        14th March 2014, 14:55

        That sounds fantastic.

      2. The Mercedes engine sounds good, no doubt about it.

        But it’s also beside the point. As soon as you add commentary to it, you’ll have to reduce the volume again. The on-track microphones part of the broadcast is too quiet compared to the commentators’ voices. I’ve seen that with Austrian ORF, German Sky and Sky UK.

  3. Mike (@anotherproblem)
    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.

    1. 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.

  4. Michael Brown
    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.

  5. 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?

  6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    14th March 2014, 14:51

    I do agree that the V8 shrieked a little too much BUT it also conveyed the sense of being on the limit.

    The new V6 sound awful on a good home entertainment system. NBC did a comparison of 2013 and 2014 sounds and it’s just awful especially in terms of hearing the gear changes.

    Here’s a great idea to at least salvage the fun for TV viewers – the FIA can use some “equalization” to improve the sound until they correct it in 2015.

  7. No option for, “I like the sound, but too quiet!”

    That’s how I would have voted… I liked the commentator idea of adding megaphones to the back of each car…

    1. This.

      I didn’t vote because of that.

  8. The sound of the new F1 engines sux big time. Even our V8 Super cars sound better And louder. What a let down!. Some comrades of mine and I are considering whether to attend the sessions tomorrow or for that matter Sunday. :(

  9. They sound like the high tech machines they’re now. The V8s were really annoying for me. Specially from the onboard cameras. That mosquito sound they made was awful. No comparisson with the glorious V10s. Im really happy with this new formula.

  10. I really, really like them! Sounding good and sounding loud are not the same thing. Formula 1 should be the pinnacle of technology and, for the first time in decades, the engines sound that way.

    For my money, the best sounding race car in recent years has been Audi’s LMP1, and anyone who’s heard that car will know that it’s one of the quietest race cars around. But when I first heard it last year, I thought that futuristic jet-like whoosh produced by the Audi was a thousand times more interesting than the relatively ancient V8 whine you’d hear at an F1 race. I must say, the new F1 engines sound very close to the Audi.

    There’s no denying that F1’s new engines are somewhat less atmospheric than the old ones. Certainly, arriving at an F1 race and hearing the engines revving before you’ve even parked your car won’t be the same. But the fact is, the new engine formula is a change that F1 really needed, and you can either embrace the new noise or complain about it.

    1. For my money, the best sounding race car in recent years has been Audi’s LMP1, and anyone who’s heard that car will know that it’s one of the quietest race cars around. But when I first heard it last year, I thought that futuristic jet-like whoosh produced by the Audi was a thousand times more interesting than the relatively ancient V8 whine you’d hear at an F1 race.

      @jackysteeg +1

  11. Carmakers can now promote their supercars as “sounding better than F1”. Before it couldn’t have been true, now it can be done.

  12. I voted for poor. I don’t miss the high screaming sound, i like the the new turbo sound, but it’s just so quiet. I was expecting to be like 80’s(McLaren MP4/4) with a huge roar, but… :(

  13. They sound great.

    Trouble is, I can barely hear them.

    All I can hear is the commentators talking far, far too loud where I have to turn my TV up so much.

    I’ve tweeted Sky/Brundle a few times simply suggesting turning up the FOM feed’s volume.

    It’s a simple, temporary fix.

  14. Jared H (@thejaredhuang)
    14th March 2014, 15:36

    I voted poor. I was going to put very poor but then I listened to some modern footage of the 80s V6 turbos and it sounds very similar. I hated 18k V8s, 19k was ok, 2006 unlimited V8s were acceptable but nothing will replace the V10 screamer.

    1. I don’t think they sound similar and this is the problem. Watch this –
      McLAren MP4/4. :)

  15. I agree with Travis Humphrey, who said in the OP : “you can hear the whine of the turbo as they pull out of corners…”. I’ve only heard the new noise on youtube, and it’s sounds particularly interesting to me. The “Whizz” of the turbo engaging, and yes all the regenerating items which make the sound completely different, but appealing. I’ll judge tomorrow morning during the qualies.
    Just a comment, I was in Zolder in I believe 1978/79, and there, there was the noise of the Matra 12 cylinder. No one didn’t put his hands to his hears because it was so loud.
    I think today it will be better for the public, certainly the ones traveling with their children to visit and watch a GP w/out being scared of becoming hearing impaired…
    Let’s see tomorrow !

  16. Don’t think the cars are loud enough on the TV?

    You see that button on your remote with +/- and a triangle next to it?

    Hit +

  17. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    14th March 2014, 16:21

    Certainly, the sound of the V6s is a lot better than I expected, and I really do like the sound, especially of the soulful wail of the Ferrari engine of the straights. In my opinion, following the ban on exhaust blown diffusers at the end of 2011 we had two seasons of F1 sounding the best it has ever sounded, and yes, I am including the V10 era when I say that, which I personally thought was at times slightly tinny and didn’t think was a patch on the quality of sound the V8s managed, ranging from deep and clearly defined downshifts through to an utterly glorious and blood-curdling scream that vibrated every seat in the grandstand.

    However the problem with the V6s is not the sound, but the noise, or rather lack of it. Not being a fan of loud noises (I am the one that asks the DJ to “turn it down a bit” when he asks if there are “any requests”) the noise was what worried me the most before I attended my first race back in ’85, but it subsequently became the reason I went to races. Twelve, ten or eight cylinders compelled me to keep going to races, and the intoxicating vibration from both the grandstands and the garages, for me, transcended the experience of spectating F1 from a merely visual hobby to a physical experience. I hope six cylinders manage to keep me hooked…

  18. I don’t mind the sound that much. It’s okay, and its quite fun with the different wuush and purr noises coming from them. Rather then just “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”.
    But it’s just not loud enough.
    So far I haven’t, not felt let down, when I heard the cars. It’s simply not as impressive.
    And it’s not terribly unique either. It’s not much different from a lot of other racing series in terms of sound.
    The old 18000 angry wasps a minute certainly were. I miss them.

  19. It’s not that quietness in itself is not impressive. The silent LeMans diesels are unique for their quietness. The question is, how important is the spectacle?

    I think it’s clear the sounds on television are distinctly underwhelming.

    But even live – for me the thrill begins a loooong way from the track. If you arrive during practice, you can hear the shrieking engines from inside your car as you near the circuit. These new cars will not make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, nor will they cause newcomers eyes to open wide and mouths to gape as they wonder “What is going on in there? What have you brought me to?”

  20. As others have said, it’s not the sound, it’s the volume. Then again, my first exposure to F1 was in the 1980’s, and that sound registered in my mind as what an F1 car should sound like.

    Then, 1989 happened, and the big V-12’s came out. VERY nice, and I’d say that particular sound is gorgeous. After that, the shriek of the V-10’s. I remember waking up to a practice session nearly a kilometer away from Indianapolis, the scream was so loud, (which in my view is the best alarm clock created), but again, it woke me up from nearly a kilometer away. Stunning tone, but too loud to attend without earplugs, which dull the experience when attending.

    The last two races I’ve attended were both IndyCar events running turbocharged V-6’s through city streets. Despite the echoes against the skyscrapers, the engines were quiet enough to eliminate the need for earplugs, allowing me to hear the announcers over the PA system and hear some of the comments from those in the stands around me. The more guttural V-6’s used in F1 do sound slightly better, at least over television, than IndyCar’s

    Compounding all of this though, is the potential mentioned previously. Had the manufacturers been given one more year to develop the engines, we could have had the best of both worlds. Reliable engines capped a few thousand RPM’s higher, producing a more appealing tone.

    In any case, I’ll take the V-6 over the V-8, but not the V-8’s predecessors. I just hope the fans in attendance get to hear plenty of the engines still running in the closing laps.

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