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. After just watching the qualifying, where has Formula 1 gone, the sound of the cars was very disappointing to say the least. Yes the new changes will spice everything up, the new torque of the engines shows driver skill. But I could get very similar thrills from lesser levels including Karting. The loud screaming sound of the V8 at 18000 revs added so much to the experience. The adrenaline rush from that wonderful sound has gone. Pinicle of motor sport? hmmmmmmm Maybe GP2

  2. Best sounding cars ever! Who doesn’t like the whine of a turbo?…

  3. If the TV audio from the track was about doubled, it would help tremendously for us at home. But I fully understand why people miss the screams. High-revving and loud notes to go along with the flowing beauty of a car on the limit is akin to the artful building of musical form.

    So while the pure engineering nature of F1 argues that beauty comes from form and function, there is no question that a more primal art-form is lost with quieter engines. I’ve driven an 2-cycle go-kart as well as an electric one, and I have to say the speed of the kart was only one aspect of the enjoyment. For this reason, I really think that in the future (when fully electric cars will be an inevitability), artificial noise should be looked at – or else this aspect will be entirely lost.

  4. Formula 1 is headed down the wrong path, in my humble opinion. I don’t mind changes, but the changes made have rendered the cars limp and the drivers impotent. The ridiculous tire situation from last year turned the drivers into the world’s most highly paid babysitters, and the saving of fuel instead of pushing hard to get an advantage is a slap in the face to racing fans everywhere. Saving fuel. What a joke. To top it all off, the v6 turbos sound uninspiring, and quite bland, at least on TV. I have a nice a/v setup and always look forward to turning up the volume to enjoy the sounds of F1, and what I heard made me sick, and sad. Formula 1 engines now produce a sound that is far less impressive than those found in nascar, indycar, motogp, you name it, it sounds better than F1. Where is this sport going? What a disappointment. I think the season will be interesting, and I am glad to see new names and teams getting an opportunity to compete for wins, podiums, and points, but isn’t there a way to achieve this level of competition without neutering both the cars and the drivers?

  5. I feel that it’s harsh to say that the new V6 engines sound poorly, it sure is different though. Of course whether one likes this new sound is a personal thing. Personally i’m not that into the new sound, not that it’s a bad sound, I’ve just grown fond of screaming high revving engines, whether they be V8, V10 or the old V12s, they sound like power to me.

  6. Can’t help but think people are slightly over reacting about the new sound, sure they’re different but its not enough to make you loose interest

  7. Do you know, guys, that the best engine would be the quieter one? Noise is energy wasted. So a perfect F1 engine would transform the chemical petrol energy into kinetic energy, without thermal and noise energy wastings.

    So maybe quieter engines are more efficient and more F1.

  8. Probably not going to attend the race again , I left after 26 laps was very disappointed. I really miss that v8 grantie thrust sound they produced then the new turbos.

  9. F1 is about who gets first past the finish line not about who has the louder engine. Quieter is better so I don’t have to wear earplugs when I go watching F1 at the track and I can talk with the people around me.

  10. I was so underwhelmed by sundays race, I passed out before finishing my 1st beer !!! That never happened, gad damn it. Been an avid armchair F1 fan for nye on 40 years, but now thinkin it’s time to find something more exciting to do on race day, maybe tip a cap of castrol R in the hedge trimmer….
    RIP F1, was nice knowin ya

  11. Some will like the new sound and some will hate it. In my case I hate it. The blood rush i used to get when the race would start from the grid line is gone. I am not blessed like so many of you where I can buy a ticket and go see the race live. So either i have to watch it on TV or mostly online on the internet. I was so excited on Sunday for the first race but then i could hardly hear the sound of the cars. It was more like Tesla cars running instead of F1 cars. I have been watching F1 since the 80s. Sure v12 were the best, but scaling down to v10 and v8 did not make a huge difference sound wise. But now, there is nothing except that whistling sound which i couldn’t even hear over the commentary. Speed wise i dont care if there is a difference or not, but there has to be some sort of screaming sound which relates f1 to f1, not hybrid green racing.
    Will i continue watching F1?…Yes, but will i enjoy it as much i did?…not even close.

  12. Formula 1 ignored the importance of the unique visceral sound experience to its fans. This is what happens when health and safety meets preventing pollution and political correctness. Hopefully F1 will restore normal service soon.

  13. Formula 1’s rule-makers, designers and broadcasters need to get together to deliver glorious visceral sounds as soon as possible otherwise F1 will lose its fans.

  14. antonyob (@)
    18th March 2014, 12:18

    We’ll get used to it but that’s no excuse to leave it, I’d get used to crappy coffee given time. My head kept saying to itself come on, change up, floor it. I think allowing revs to climb above 15000 rpm may help. Deeply disappointing and that was just on telly. Not looking forward to Spa or Silverstone when it’ll sound like the careera cup has come on again, sort it Bernie!

  15. You have to admire the technical brilliance of the new power unit and I’m sure it will benefit the cars of the future but why do we have to have that applied to F1?. The noise the older units produced could be actually felt at trackside, these new engines sound bland, there is more noise on your local motorway. Lets get the spectacle back , its the elite of motor sport and should have the roar to go with it.

  16. Up until 2013 there was nothing on the planet that sounded like an F1 race car and that is what made F1 racing unique. It was worth going to the race track and spending all that money just to experience the roar of F1 cars flying past you. F1 cars now sound quite average. Who wants to speed a lot of money for something average. Fans should boycott F1 this season so that the organizers will get the message that we are very unhappy and force them to go back to the V8 engines of 2013.

  17. Why is it people insist that F1 is rubbish unless ear defenders have to be worn? The 80`s were seen as a golden era with Mansell, Senna et al and the Williams FW11 and the dominating McLaren MP4/4 did not burst the ear drums. They haven`t always screamed at 18k you know!

  18. AussieFanGal
    26th March 2014, 1:00

    Bitterly disappointed. Took two friends who hadn’t seen live f1s and I was embarassed. The noise vibrating through you during practice, qualifying and the race is a huge part of the onsite experience. Had great experiences at Barcelona and Suzuka. I won’t go to the track to watch again. Was planning to fly to Singapore but not after Melbourne. Porsches and V8s were much more exciting.

  19. Bill Toomey
    25th May 2014, 16:28

    If I wanted to hear noise like the new cars make, again….I’ll go to a tractor race.

  20. I was thinking about a solution to the sound problem that might work. If we replace the turbos with Superchargers (cant remember which one works like a turbo). You could then use the ERS to power the Supercharger so it doesnt waste power from the engine. This takes the ‘mufler’ off and makes a louder sound. Please tell me if this would work and wheather it still reaches the FIAs goal of hybrid technology and fuel economy

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