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. Kevin (@kjhayes007) said on 14th March 2014, 19:56

    Th engines are simply not as exciting. That wonderfully satisfying V8 shriek of power is now missing.. Sight AND sound, that is the spectacle that is F1.. When F1 drivers and drivers of other racing series could point out the mediocrity you know there is something missing. It’s just a positive sign that the fans will defend the new engine sounds almost out of duty, just like they did the awful nose designs. And just like those awful noses, which the FIA will address, because they ARE awful, these V6 turbo acoustics are a step backwards from the V8-10-12 acoustics of yesteryear… Yes it does matter. You can’t touch F1. You see it, and you hear it. Or not, as it were..

  2. schooner (@schooner) said on 14th March 2014, 20:05

    I’d imagine that the experience was probably different at the track, but watching on TV I was very underwhelmed. I was cautiously optimistic after watching some of the testing (with earphones) on my computer, but on TV these cars sounded flat out anemic. For the casual viewers and potential new fans, there is really nothing setting F1 apart from several other series now.

  3. NicoTexas (@nicotexas) said on 14th March 2014, 20:20

    I prefer the new sound of the V6 turbo. I also like we can hear the tires, this is a great plus IMO.
    The screaming of the V8 was impressive but it was getting old very fast on track side.
    I hope I will be able to enjoy the track side without ear plugs :)

  4. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 14th March 2014, 20:56

    I like the tones of the engines, but overall volume is a bit lacking. The onboard sound is quite nice though, I’d always hated the pointlessly loud V8 onboards.

  5. Bazza Spock (@bazza-spock) said on 14th March 2014, 21:13

    Wow, I just did the poll and was surprised to see I’m in the majority with “good”. They say the best looking cars are usually the fastest — and yesterday I was thinking maybe the best sounding cars might be the fastest too. THere’s a big range in how the different engines sound but from the few onboard shots I saw, the McLaren sounded best — higher pitched than RB’s renault.

  6. Wikkid Smile (@wikkidsmile) said on 14th March 2014, 21:20

    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…

  7. Herberto (@herberto) said on 14th March 2014, 21:29

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

  8. pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 14th March 2014, 21:47

    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.

  9. The Bear! (@justgassing) said on 14th March 2014, 21:56

    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.

    • pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 14th March 2014, 23:44

      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.

  10. Ed Carver said on 14th March 2014, 22:53

    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

  11. mike prosser (@mprosser) said on 15th March 2014, 0:15

    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

  12. davidhunter13 (@davidhunter13) said on 15th March 2014, 0:33

    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.

  13. budchekov (@budchekov) said on 15th March 2014, 1:04

    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.

  14. Mariano (@mariano) said on 15th March 2014, 1:39

    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!

  15. Charles (@talktothehat) said on 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.

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