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 new sound is JUST AWFUL!!! Will Buxton saying he liked hearing the cars “Whizz and pop and whir as they go by”…..oh good grief! They are FORMULA 1 cars, not cuckoo clocks! YUCK! I am almost dreading Sunday’s race where we’ll hear a full starting grid of these weed-whackers with steering wheels. Ugh…

  2. No. The sound looks like we’re watching Moto GP :(

  3. there are better sounding cars in NASCAR. Wolf said people would forget about the sound thing altogether, but one of the reasons I fancy F1, and playing it on the PlayStation is running through the gears and listening to the clear and distinct pitch of the motor, now it sounds like a Dyson on the back of a commuter, w/ a turbo.

    I have no doubt that with time, the boost, and some work on the tires, they will make better times than 2013, after all F1 has kind of been going no where for the last 10 years in terms of speed/performance, but it really isn’t the same.

  4. The real noise of F1 has been dumbed down for much longer than most of you think. If you all think the V10’s/V8’s are missed, just go back to the origins pre war, and listen to the Mercs and Auto unions from that era. This is what we came up with in the UK ( which sounded great but was rarely seen although not bad for a 1500 cc engine. Go back and listen to the 250f Masserati, the Ferrari 156 and the Matra V12,s. if you want a real insight into what has happened since the early 70’s.
    This is kids stuff these days.

    1. a V16, nice. It’s amazing how much character you can get by messing with the valves, and adding pistons. almost sounds like an airplane ;) a shame the rules are focused more at consumer autos instead of air/space age goodness.

  5. They sound like the future….although they do sound better in the pit lane now…almost space age!…I do wonder though why couldn’t a V8 have been used…as the manufacturers have so much know how on this type of ICE for the ‘powertrain’….plus theese engines mean we might see some F1 manufacturers in the WEC & Le Mans….which would be rather epic

  6. After watching on TV I’m really not a fan. They seem extremely quiet which f1 cars should not be. Also, from the red bull in car camera the sound I heard sounded like a sped up track of a canal boat with turbo noise dubbed over it

  7. I must say at first I was quite disappointed, they are very quiet on TV. I think the broadcasters certainly need to alter their sound levels, increase the trackside mic volume to make more of the sound. Once I got over the shock at that I started hearing tyre squeal on lock ups and then I realised, this might be far far better for our sport. With the old shriek everything else became inaudible, we never hear the crowds on TV, which makes you think people just sit there quietly observing when in reality its a very lively atmosphere, at least at the British GP which I’ve been to twice. Maybe now we’ll hear far more of the atmosphere as well as hear the drivers struggling for grip etc. Can’t wait to hear the GP start tomorrow to see what its like, but for now I’m cautiously optimistic it will be an improvement overall.

  8. At the moment, No, until the whole field takes off on Race Day it’s hard to judge.
    Having said that, if they sound like leaf blowers and we finally get some sharp end RACING I’ll be happy.

  9. When I heard the sound of the new engines I got really scared as I thought that I was suffering of presbycusis being unable to listen the high frequencies. Yes, I’m old. I’ve been watching F1 for 51 years so that was possible. But no, my hearing is still 100%. Do I like the sound of the V6’s? No way, it’s horrible!

  10. Charles (@talktothehat)
    15th March 2014, 1:49

    Curious that these V6 turbos are sound ‘like motoGP’. Would that be the tearing metal of a RC213V or the rasp of the crossplane I4 YZR-M1 or the growl of the Desmo? I don’t hear turbo whine in any of the motoGP bikes.

  11. Log into and listen to the intro … they still have the ol’ good screaming V8 engine.

    Although the V8’s were more “dramatic” the new V6’s aren´t that bad, considering that they must have run at what, 80-90% of their full power? And we haven´t listen the full grid on Sunday.

    What I’m really liking is that you can distinguish a Mercedes Benz, a Ferrari or a Renault engine.

  12. Don’t understand what happened since Jerez and even Bahraintesting and how the exhausts were made quieter … looks like something stuck on the end of it.
    FIA says not much quieter but I read about a 30db reduction which is 10x quieter. In the end I think TV viewer figures will show whether the sound is ‘good’ enough because its really lame on TV … for me the ‘goosebumps’ are gone :(

  13. Im shocked by the sound TBH. I think they should do something to fix this.

  14. it’s the sound of the future – imagine sci fi, space ships…! And more important, drivers are winning their pay needing to fight and grab the car around. I missed that in Formula 1… It was like cars on rails… And the reliability was always a question mark, until recent years were all car that start… finish… I like to see driver mistakes, mechanical malfunctions and so go. In all this the sound is not important – there are a lot of positive things for the fans this year.

    Go HAM! Go BUT! Go MAG! Go BOT!

  15. Graham Mosdall
    15th March 2014, 4:33

    I’m sorry but quieter engines sound rubbish, they sound like high performance lawn mowers, the true sound of F1 has been truely lost, on board sound on most of the cars sounds like a nascar that’s missing a few cylinders and some sound like an indycar, Mclarens have the best on board sound but the new engine sound is rubbish, the ear pearcing sound of the F1 engines from last year and years before that were brilliant, sitting there and not needing ear plugs to watch an F1 race? No thank you, the engines should be screaming as loud as possible, the new engines I’m sorry but that’s not the pinnacle of motorsport, that’s F1 dumbing down and dumbing down way to much, quite frankly the F1 engines we have now are pathetic, bring back the V10’s and leave road car technology to the racing series which actually race road cars such as touring cars, that’s where this hybrid stuff should be going to, not F1

    1. Next, we’ll see a green leaf pop up on Vettel’s steering wheel when the team orders him to save the tires and conserve fuel. What an utter disgrace. I couldn’t watch live but later on Sunday I watched about 20min and then fast forwarded to the end to see who won and turned it off in disgust. These people should be ashamed of themselves as well as all the pseduo-engineers on here trying to convince everyone that quieter is more F1. I’m sure I’ll like a concert much better if they just turn down the music so I can talk with my friends. I went back and listened to the difference from V12, V10, V8, and now V6. This most recent change is the most dramatic and I fear damaging to the sport. What a shame.

  16. People hated the v8’s when they first came in, as the v10’s were so much better sounding. Now, people are hating the v6’s as the v8’s were so much better sounding.

    Makes sense…….

    Also, I think the Audi Diesels sound phenomenal, so volume isn’t everything. The v6’s sound good to me.

  17. There was a guy who noted that, at the race, the V8 car was the only thing that existed in the moment it ran by. I pay almost $200 just for the race day ticket, and I do not want to be distracted by the mundane trivialities of everyday life. I want F1 to seize my attention, whether or not I want it. That is the magic of F1 that drew me in when i had absolutely no interest in racing of any sort. something about the sound that announced, demanded, that I was stepping into another world. I don’t get that any more and I fear I may lose interest. Especiallly If it ends up being another Red Bull year.

  18. Why does the sound matter?

    A 1990’s Corolla isn’t any slower then a 1990’s Corolla fitted with a massive exhaust pipe.

    1. @travis

      Because just like the looks, the noise of a car is part of the excitement.

  19. I’ll wait and see what it’s like when I’m at the track later this year. From what I’ve heard so far I don’t think it sounds too bad actually.

  20. After a terrific qualifying can we all now put this debate to bed and move on. If there is one thing that is a constant in this world it is change and engine notes are one of them. The 2014 sound is throaty and sometimes a little bit sci-fi. It’s not better nor is it worse than the 2013 sound, it’s just different. One upside was to be able to hear the crowd. We are the people that keep the f1 wheels turning so it’s good to hear the cheering above the noise of the cars. Long live f1, the best sport in the entire universe!

    1. I agree. Hearing the crowd makes you feel more involved watching at home and as for the engines being less quiet, I think, for me anyway, it makes no difference. Last year I went to Silverstone and had ear defenders that dampened the sound anyway, this year I won’t need them so will get the full feel of cars and crowd

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