Do F1’s new engines have the right sound?

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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. celler (@celler) said on 15th March 2014, 1:52

    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.

  2. Tobias (@devi) said on 15th March 2014, 2:56

    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 :(

  3. Matty No 2 (@mattynotwo) said on 15th March 2014, 3:01

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

  4. Win7Golf (@win7golf) said on 15th March 2014, 4:18

    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!

  5. Graham Mosdall said on 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

    • 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.

  6. Blair (@b-muz) said on 15th March 2014, 4:36

    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.

  7. Jeremy (@jeremy) said on 15th March 2014, 5:03

    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.

  8. Why does the sound matter?

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

  9. Eric (@) said on 15th March 2014, 7:24

    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.

  10. Chris (@mccosmic) said on 15th March 2014, 7:34

    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!

    • Michael (@mhonners) said on 15th March 2014, 11:23

      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

  11. paul meadows (@pgmeadows) said on 15th March 2014, 8:44

    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

  12. Gordon said on 15th March 2014, 11:50

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

  13. Minardi (@gitanes) said on 15th March 2014, 15:10

    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.

  14. medman (@medman) said on 15th March 2014, 16:35

    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?

  15. 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.

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