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:

For

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.
@Dragoll

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.
@Gwenouille

Against

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.
Torg22

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.
@JohnBt

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 (4%)

Total Voters: 700

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229 comments on Do F1′s new engines have the right sound?

  1. andae23 (@andae23) said on 14th March 2014, 16:56

    I would like to point out that the old F1 cars from the 1960s aren’t very loud either, but their tone is very nice, almost musical. Combined with the slippery handling and simple, narrow bodies, they are my favourite F1 cars. of all time.

    Also, I think that most fans have been spoiled with the ridiculously loud engine noises from the late 1990s, early 2000s. I was moderately happy with my old, outdated phone. Then I bought a new one, but it broke down within a week. I had to revert to the old phone and suddenly it was an awful piece of machinery. See what I mean?

  2. I always felt this is the best sounding car on the grid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqRfwix-ntg

  3. zippyone (@zippyone) said on 14th March 2014, 17:00

    I like the sound, just don’t think they are loud enough, was thinking of going to Silverstone this year but not sure now as the atmosphere will not be the same. I loved the sound of the old F1 cars going round Silverstone.

  4. Charles (@talktothehat) said on 14th March 2014, 17:02

    Sure it’s different. Quieter means nothing in terms of TV viewing, that’s a function of the mixing of the broadcast stream and the characteristics of your sound system. The rumble, growl and hiss of the new power units works quite well with tiny laptop speakers and earbuds – the howl of the v8s sounded quite buzzy through those. Will probably sound epic with surround sound and a big sub.

    An interesting thought, with the quieter cars does this mean one can enjoy the sport without ear defenders? Personally I’ve always got ear plugs on me as wind noise in my bike helmet is a thing, but in recent years going to events where I can talk to the other half without resorting to sign language, and being able to perhaps take children to a grand prix without much complaints that it’s too loud.

    Food for thought is that arenacross is growing and part of that must be the fact that the bikes are quieter than some road bikes.

  5. Jeremy (@jeremy) said on 14th March 2014, 17:09

    Yes, the new engines sound good, if only I could hear them.

    I watched FP2 on BBC yesterday and if not for the BBC commentary, I could have watched on mute.

    Very, very disappointed. (And I am a recent fan not an old, stuck-in-the-mud diehard).

  6. I will trade slightly dull sound for unpredictable / exciting racing every day of the week. Does anyone really think that the sound of a Ferrari V10 made up for the dullness of Schumacher domination? the sound of a Renault V8 for Vettel’s?
    Who gives a cr*p what it sounds like – the vast majority of us watch it on TV. Watching V10′s/V8′s was fun at the circuit – I loved it – but not at the expense of knowing who would win as soon as quail was done.

  7. Martin (@aardvark) said on 14th March 2014, 17:37

    Don’t like the new sound.

    The old sound was a single animalistic scream, like the driver was trying to control an angry tiger. Now it sounds a like small mechanical parts working away in a plastic housing, with the driver tapping away at a keyboard. Totally different feel.

  8. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 14th March 2014, 17:51

    I was one of whom thought that it wouldn’t matter, and that the sound of Formula One wouldn’t matter so long as everything else that I love about the sport stayed roughly in tact. However, after watching practice, I did feel like something was missing.

    In previous years, the cars didn’t only look fast, but sounded fast. The cars in practice today, just didn’t look fast. Somehow the sound detracted from what I was seeing on TV and making me think that they looked slower because of it. I don’t know if the power was turned down a lot today, and that the cars will sound a little better come Saturday and perhaps Sunday, but maybe it would be a good idea, as Martin Brundle suggested that a device be implemented to increase the sound artificially.

    Anyway, having said that, I did like the sound during the on-board footage, so there is hope yet and maybe I will get used to it. For now, I’ll hold judgement, at least for a few more races.

  9. underwhelmed…. sounds more like a road car commercial. Pinnacle of what again?

    • pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 14th March 2014, 18:06

      Yeah, whats more frustrating is listening to the team ‘bosses’ justifying themselves as using F1 as a billboard for car manufacturers who want to introduce ‘hybrid systems’ in order to increase sales via increased hype. If it is really progress, the teams would not be forced to introduce the “new technology” because it would be a move in the right direction :)

      Progress is not being told what to do, but some people think it is :) And some people like it that way unfortunately.

  10. I was one of the people who poured scorn on those who were skeptical about the sound of the new engines. However, having heard them in FP1 and 2, to me, it kinda sounds like they are not trying, and just cruising round the track.

  11. av2290 said on 14th March 2014, 18:36

    I don’t like it. A friend attending said they are considerably quieter than the V8′s. The turbo sounds like a dentist drill. F1 is the pinnacle of MOTORSPORT. An F1 car should NEVER be confused with any lesser formula. There is a line for me where “road relevance” just doesn’t apply to SPORT and EXCITEMENT. People that complain F1 is “green” enough should look at the Tour De France which creates more CO2 than the entire formula 1 circus does all season (including the cars, freighter jets, everything). BTW I am 100% in favor of electric and hybrid road cars and frankly those development lines are highly developed industries that no longer depend on motorsport to learn anything from.

    I see the F1 regs as taking us one step closer to this supreme blandness:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omV6-tTiDE4

  12. Rigi (@rigi) said on 14th March 2014, 18:37

    i like it!

  13. Russ said on 14th March 2014, 19:15

    They sound Amateur.Lower level.

  14. Calum (@calum) said on 14th March 2014, 19:18

    I think they sound average – but that means they are more suitable for watching F1 on television at unsociable hours like 01:30 and 05:30 this morning!! :D

    It’s more about the technological implementations for me that give these V6-turbo-super-KERS units a WOW factor!

  15. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 14th March 2014, 19:43

    I quite like it. Yes its not as loud as what we have had before but I don’t think that automatically makes it worse, Just different.

    Sticking with the V8′s or going to something like a V10 or V12 just to keep it loud is silly, Its not how you keep the engine makers interested & if they don’t like the formula or don’t feel its relevant to them there not going to enter F1. And I know many fans think the idea of F1 been relevant to anything outside of F1 is dumb, But were not the ones who have to convince people in a board room to give us money to Research, Design, Build & Develop an F1 engine & everything that goes with it.

    Also remember that were at the start of development, Things will change over the next few years as what can be changed within the engine is improved & the exhaust designs will also change. In a few years they may be louder & sound better than they do right now.

    Something else I’d also point to is that I think Sky had the Track Audio turned down too much which made them sound worse/quieter than they really are.
    For example the OnBoard shots on the main SSF1 program sounded pretty quiet, However on the raw OnBoard feeds on the red button they sounded much louder & a lot better.

    Some OnBoards from the OnBoard feeds:
    https://www.mediafire.com/folder/ad3bbp3qxzp39/01_-_Melbourne

    • StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 14th March 2014, 19:47

      Just to add that regardless of what they sound like, The new power units along with the reduction in downforce make the 2014 cars more fun to watch, Especially from the OnBoards with drivers fighting wheel-spin under acceleration as well as the cars just moving around more in general.

      Much more spectacular to watch than the V8′s which with so little torque were pretty unspectacular to watch.

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