Potential to increase engine noise ‘extremely limited’

2014 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Formula One engine designers warned the scope to increase the amount of noise produced by the current units is “extremely limited”.

The quieter sound of the new engines has been one of the talking points of the season with some fans regretting the loss of the louder V8s and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone criticising the change.

The FIA has begun a consultation process to investigate what could be done to change the noise produced by the new V6 turbos. But Mercedes-Benz HPE engineering director Andy Cowell warned the configuration of the new units poses a major obstacle.

“The principal reason why the engine’s quieter is the turbine wheel and the muffling effect you get from that,” he said. “And perhaps one of the key technologies for recycling the waste eergy that would normal go down the tailpipe so it’s a key aspect of the technology we’ve got.”

“There are other things we can do, though, with the tailpipe, perhaps, to change the noise,” he added.

Renault Sport F1 deputy managing director Rob White said there was little opportunity to increase the volume produced by the current designs:

“The noise of the current engine is a consequence of the overall layout, the architecture and so forth.

“I think in terms of the possible adjustments to change the noise it makes I think we’re at the beginning of a consultative process that will kick off in about an hour’s time. Andy’s alluded to tailpipe changes, that’s something that could be a way to go.

“I think the scope to fundamentally and profoundly alter the noise of the engine is extremely limited by the type of technology that we have deployed. And therefore I think we need to be realistic about the scope of any action that we might take.

“But of course we’re sensitive to the subject and we’ll certainly participate in any of the studies that might lead to actions being taken.”

Cowell said increasing the current rev limit of 15,000rpm would not have an effect. “The fundamental reason is the fuel flow rate formula, so you get 100kg per hour once you’re at 10,500 rpm.”

“If you rev an engine faster you generate more friction and friction is the enemy of an engine and the enemy for a race car because you have to reject it to the radiators and there’s an aerodynamic deficit from doing that.

“None of us want to be below 10,500 but none of us want to be at high revs because all you do is create heat.”

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43 comments on Potential to increase engine noise ‘extremely limited’

  1. Andrea (@awg-1922) said on 18th April 2014, 10:07

    Holy cow but who cares! Why is the sound-issue an issue in the first place? I’m pretty sure FIA has more important thing to discuss. And F1 fans who stop watching\following the sport because of a friggin’ sound… well, I find it difficult to call them “F1 fans”. Just watch the races, the battles, enjoy them!

  2. Roald (@roald) said on 18th April 2014, 10:19

    While I don’t really care about the engine sound, I’m certain there’ll be less people attending races in the future. It was part of the experience after all. Doesn’t really matter on tv, but certainly does live.

    • Gujerati said on 18th April 2014, 10:29

      I’m pretty sensitive to noise and the last time I attended a live race I didn’t enjoy it much because of this. I’m much more likely to go another now.

    • greg-c said on 18th April 2014, 15:40

      If its quieter then not only will I go but i will take my sons ,
      Thats 3 more folks going .

  3. Tiomkin said on 18th April 2014, 10:25

    Why does a piano sound like a piano? Why does a drum sound like a drum? Why does one engine sound different to another engine? Can’t we just keep one thing real in F1? Leave the sound alone, if you want to change noise how about scrapping x2 points? That would silence the vast majority.

  4. Adam Kibbey (@kibblesworth) said on 18th April 2014, 10:27

    Such a trivial matter; the engines are what they are. As long as there is wheel-to-wheel action on the track I couldn’t give a toss about what the noise levels are. I suspect I am not alone either, given the fan’s positive reaction to the Bahrain GP.

    • ianw said on 18th April 2014, 10:55

      Sane man! This is such a tiresome debate. I do worry about the people that seriously complain about the noise, can you only enjoy things at a deafening volume? Of course not. Also when you’re actually at the race you can now hear the commentary!

    • ruffneckc said on 18th April 2014, 15:22

      I agree as well. The engine sound, is the engine sound and that’s it. They could use high quality mics to amplify the sound for TV but whatever. The racing and the technology is what’ excites me.

  5. Jonathan Sarginson said on 18th April 2014, 10:27

    I’m getting really tired of all this immature talk of Engine Noise…we’re all trying to move on now to more efficiency with the new Power Units…don’t forget; Noise is Wasted Energy!…

    • Mads (@mads) said on 18th April 2014, 10:41

      F1 is wasted energy. The sport is there to entertain the viewers.
      If a lot of people aren’t entertained by it when they go to the race to watch it live, and race attendance therefore drops, then it will become a very real problem for the race organizers and track owners.

      • Tiomkin said on 18th April 2014, 11:32

        I think you’ll find it’s not the noise that’s the problem. It’s stuffing F1 behind paywalls that will kill it.

        • Mads (@mads) said on 18th April 2014, 13:53

          You can’t know that.

          • Tiomkin said on 18th April 2014, 17:35

            Why can’t I know that? How are people ever going to discover F1 if they never see it? Will they pay £100s on subs to watch something to see if it is for them? Watching news reports of highlights will not create fans. I occasionally look up how the local football team is doing but I never go to a match as it’s just numbers in a table. F1 will go the same way.

    • Quant said on 18th April 2014, 18:37

      Agreed. This is what winds me up about this “debate”. The complete insanity of adopting regulations that are supposed to be moving towards greater efficiency and then discussing ways to waste energy so that we can turn the volume up.

      One day F1 will be an all-electric formula; some people will be horrified by that notion, but it’s going to happen, so might as well get used to the volume reduction now, it’s only going down in the future.

  6. David Not Coulthard (@davidnotcoulthard) said on 18th April 2014, 10:32

    Here’s the solution you’ve been looking for.


  7. SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 18th April 2014, 10:37

    I wish this topic would go away now. F1 have done the right thing in making quieter engines. Noise is a form of pollution too. Every time I hear someone from the sport say they’re going to look into adding noise it makes me cringe, they’re basically saying they are looking into adding extra pollution to what they do when there is no need. Yay!

    Don’t worry F1, you’re doing the right thing. The rest of the motorsport world will catch up and do the same in future anyway. The noisy fans will have to get used to it.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 18th April 2014, 10:46

      What if the noise is part of the experience?
      Do you also listen to your music at home on mute, to avoid unnecessary noise pollution?

      • SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 18th April 2014, 10:59

        They are different though.

        Racing is the product and engine noise is a by-product of that, racing can exist without it, it’s not even close to being essential. With music it is the product, if you mute then you have no music, it is totally essential. If you were to apply that same analogy to F1 the cars would be racing but you wouldn’t be able to see them.

        The rest of motorsport will catch up with F1 when it comes to engine noise. It will happen. It is the future and we’ll still have great racing. Holding on for louder engines is like Ferrari holding on to the idea that engines should be at the front of the car. Those days have passed. Bring on the future.

    • spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 18th April 2014, 11:49

      @sircoolbeans noise is pollution for you? Great, I think you’ll like Formula E then

      • SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 18th April 2014, 12:10

        Of course noise is pollution, that isn’t just for me. It’s called Noise Pollution. ;-)

        Formula E is a great idea. It’s not going to last, it’ll need to adapt, but I’m glad it’s happening.

  8. DavidS (@davids) said on 18th April 2014, 10:39

    Don’t restrict engine RPM, allow twin turbos and dual exhausts.
    All will help increase the sound levels, and make the engines sound much more highly strung.

  9. Malcolm said on 18th April 2014, 10:43

    Well I wa at Goodwood recently and they had a load of old turbo cars and they sounded loud to me so why can’t these.

  10. Baron (@baron) said on 18th April 2014, 10:56

    It *may* be an irrelevance, but the noise limit at most British tracks for all types of motorspsort, with the exception of F1 and some Historic formulae, is 105 dB measured at .5 metres from the ground, 1 metre from the car’s exhaust at a 45 degree rearward angle @ 3/4 of max r.p.m.

    F1 is at 132 dB measured a good deal further away than that.

    The F1 noise “issue” needs context.

  11. Bobby (@f1bobby) said on 18th April 2014, 11:04

    Can’t believe this is still rumbling on. The engines sound fine, they are what they are; V10s aren’t V12s aren’t V8s aren’t V6s. I think this engine noise ‘debate’ is mostly an invention of the media.

  12. Hans Herrmann (@twentyseven) said on 18th April 2014, 11:07

    Reading this I can’t decide what I’d prefer F1 to be:

    1. A ultra high tech sport which adapts with finese to trends in the automotive world
    2. An extravaganza of roaring fuel guzzlers created by engineering’s greatest minds

    Oh wait I’ve just made up my mind :)

    • George (@george) said on 18th April 2014, 14:44

      I’m as much of a fan of roaring V8s and singing V12s as anyone, but I have to think that F1 has to move with the times. Once those great engines were the height of technology, but now they’re outdated so we have to move on. Hopefully whatever fuel source we finally replace petroleum with will provide a nice noise to go with it.

  13. Mick said on 18th April 2014, 11:21

    Why don’t they just vent the waste gate pipe to atmosphere, rather than plumb back through them main exhaust.
    Should be plenty plenty loud that way.

  14. Can’t the acoustics of the tracks be used as a solution? I remember that turn 2,3,4,5 section at Estoril made it possible so that nearly all the cars were wrapped around you for the first few laps. That was the loudest I have ever heard F1. I remember attending my first non-Estoril event at Imola and being totally disappointed in the sound even though the cars were using much higher revving engines by then. That and being seated up high and away from the track.

  15. spoutnik (@spoutnik) said on 18th April 2014, 11:57

    People who have attended to a race this year seem to say that on-track noise is pretty ok (even Bernie said so).
    Most of the critics were concerning F1 on television. It’s really easy to raise a bit the broadcasted sound, and this case can be closed.

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