F1 TV spectacle will be ‘truly amazing… but I hope we don’t lose the magic’ – Lowdon

2014 F1 season

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Marussia team president Graeme Lowdon believes Formula One’s new regulations will make for a more entertaining television spectacle in 2014.

With less downforce and more torque, the new generation of cars are proving trickier to drive. But Lowdon raised doubts over whether the new V6 turbo engines will provide the same aural impact as the V8 they have replaced.

“I think on television the spectacle is set to be absolutely amazing – really, truly amazing,” said Lowdon during testing at Jerez last week.

“I hope that’s the case because the TV audience is obviously very large and very important to everyone involved.”

“What I hope is that we haven’t – I hope we don’t lose the magic that happens in the garage when you take the lucky few people into that environment,” he added. “And where that’s really important.”

“We take decision-makers of large international companies who are funding this sport into that environment and you can see on their case that they’re visibly moved when a Formula One car fires up.

“For people who are passionate about the sport the sound and the smells and everything are kind of, make a lot of sense. But one of the really powerful things about Formula One is that for a lot of people experiencing that kind of environment for the first time it’s another world, they cannot believe… it’s almost like a violent energy inside these cars, they’re so powerful.

“And I think it’s important to have that texture in Formula One because it helps demonstrate that Formula One really is different and so, you know, we have to make sure that we maintain that somehow.”

Lowdon said the new power units made noticeable less impact: “It’s certainly quieter because you can make a ‘phone call during a test at Jerez – I’ve never done that before. They’re certainly different.”

“The small amount of running I’ve seen on the track already suggests that on the TV it’s going to be really quite spectacular,” he added.

“But as ever with regulation making it’s a balancing act between making sure that something’s appealing for the TV audience and by far the greatest number of fans watch F1 on television but it’s really important for the promoters to have the unique atmosphere of a grand prix and we’ve said all along that has to be protected.

“It really is important. But then even beyond that there’s an even smaller audience which is so important to this sport who are the decision makers who help fund sponsorship into the commercial rights holder and the teams and we have to maintain that magic.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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35 comments on “F1 TV spectacle will be ‘truly amazing… but I hope we don’t lose the magic’ – Lowdon”

  1. I have a question for the young fans. I first saw a F1 race live un 1984, portugués gp. I remember clearly what was the first car i saw. It es thierry boutsen in the arrows bmw turbo, when he was on a flyier at the end of the main straight. I was ihn shock, and i just couldnt believe how it was posible to be so fast in a car.
    I went last year to watch the gp at Barcelona, And i must admite i still liked it, but no shock at all.
    Con somebody tell me whats the feeling they get when they watch an f1 for the first time nowadays?
    I wa 18 un 1984, and now you can figure it out.

    1. First time I saw an F1 race was in 2004. I finally managed to get to Sepang after years of not being able to go for various reason…and it was a shock to my system that Ive yet to experience again. The fact was that I couldnt stop shaking for the first hour because I was so excited to be finally watching these cars live.

      I took advice from a true petrol head to forego the ear plugs, what excellent advice. I have not used ear plugs at races since then. The sound was just amazing, it went straight through to your bones!! I was sat on the back straight at Sepang…the sound of Juan Montoya’s V10 Williams BMW whizzing by at 19,000 RPM was heavenly. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

      Although Im still get excited when I attend, abviously it isnt as intense as first time, because I am more or less used to it. More than anything, the difference in sound and vibration between the V10 and V8 was pretty obvious, I wonder what the V6 will be like.

      F1 is F1. Whatever happens, as stupid as things get, I will still watch it because I love it. Any true F1 fan who attends a race for the first time is more than likely to be “shocked”…..postively or negatively…haha

    2. Interchangable
      5th February 2014, 19:50

      The first time saw an F1 car was at Goodwood in 2003 I was only 5 years old but I can still remember the sound of the V10 engine 11 years on man that scream, every time it came round it your ears off. I then saw F1 cars again at Goodwood in 2007 where it rained and again in 2008 at the Silverstone tests there. However, I didn’t fully ever go to a gp until 2011 at Silverstone, I think the first car that saw was the McLaren of Jeneson button, the sound of the cars and the atmosphere at the place was electric, that was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. I since been to one more GP at Silverstone in 2012 and the saw the young drive test there last year, I hope to be able to go the test at Silverstone this year.

  2. The reality is that the sound and the spectacle aren’t going to be the same.
    The roar of the V10 and then the V8’s was most impressive when they were revving up to >18,000 rpm, which is not going to be the case with the V6’s. I’m not sure if there is a technical reason regarding the KERS/ERS systems, a necessity for the turbos, or if it’s a fuel saving reason, but I don’t really understand why they have lowered the rev limit so much. If the V6’s were revving at 16-17,000 I think a big part of this new problem would be eradicated.
    The most worrying part of this is what is Ecclestone going to make of this; he came out with some very sensible comments the other day about losing the drama of F1, which are echoed above by Lowdon. But he is also prone to coming up with some of the most ridiculous ideas imaginable to ‘improve the F1 show’, which fills me with dread at what he may suggest to do about the sound in F1.

    1. get ready for speakers installed on sidepods linked to a mic at the engine.

      1. I hate to say it, but somehow I wouldn’t be surprised. To me, it’s a less ridiculous concept than double points awarded for the final race.

  3. I agree. It’s obvious tha f1 should be about racing teams talented drivers and inane machines but the spectacle is guaranteed for this season so we at least got that going for us.

  4. I wish people would stop banging on about the noise. The V8s sounded rubbish compared to the V10s, they are not the be all and end all of F1 noise (for that, you have to go to the BRM V16 in my book). The V8s were loud sure but they sounded gutless in the onboard shots. The new engines sound incredible, but at the end of the day the sound matters little compared to what is happening on track.

    1. I share your emotions on this @geemac. The V8s never sounded really special to me either, certainly not what a V12 or even the V10s had. And these engines give some very distinct noises combining a throaty roar and a futuristic whistle and a lot in between, which is quite nice.

      If the action is watchable and the tension of who finishes (and where) is real, then this is a big win for the sport.

    2. V8’s sounded thin in real life, a very loud hollow sound. High rpm is painful but with 10 cylinders there was enough thickness to the sound. The v12 engines of the early 90’s went to 12500 rpm and when last used in 1995 by Ferrari were they much higher? (I might be a few revs out on 12500) Historic F1 cars were never as loud as the v8 when heard both on same day but they sounded better. What about engine noise on the 88 McLaren did this ruin the spectacle? I am not worried about the sounds F1 has been with us since the 50’s with 4 cylinders to 16 cylinders. Its just a different era, 19000 plus rpm engines started in the late 90’s F1 was around long before this.

      1. “What about engine noise on the 88 McLaren did this ruin the spectacle.”

        Of course it didn’t, and that’s the point everyone seems to be missing. The 80’s are often referred to as the golden era of F1, non one ever says anything about the noise of the cars. The sounded great, throaty and aggressive, just like the 2014 cars do.

        1. David not Coulthard (@)
          4th February 2014, 14:27

          Precisely my view, @geemac (especially when looking at the hate most YouTube comments seem to show to the V6s – and they love Senna’s era!), though I guess the revs weren’t limited back then……

          1. and hey, if you are on business and can make a phone call, even better, right?

          2. Boost was limited to 2.5 bar in 1988. The Honda engine in the Mclaren produced 675bhp at 12500 rpm in qualifying. 2014 revs are 15000rpm max bhp estimated 750-800 bhp. I am struggling to see the issue with some people? They probably would have moaned about the 1st mid engined race cars, 1st semi auto boxes (I would love manuals back though), 1st time accelerator was not on the left, 1st carbon tubs, 1st wings etc….

      2. I myself was a fan of screaming V8s, but I find the new engines (bar Renault) to sound awesome, you can hear there is a lot more happening inside))

    3. @geemac agreed ! The V10s were just magical waves of sound. The V8s, in comparision, were a rubbish replacement. And in person, they sounded soooooooo boring.

      I remember 2 years ago, when I went to the Red Bull roadshow, with the RB7, I was surprised at how much different the engine sounded compared to the V10s and even the unrestricted V8 Cosworth on the Williams.

      So far, I’ve liked the V6 Turbo sound quite a lot !

      1. The 20,000 rpm V8 Cosworth is the only exception to my “the V8’s sound rubbish” rant…it slipped my mind for a moment ;)

    4. David not Coulthard (@)
      4th February 2014, 14:25

      Yeah, the V8s were, in my view, a dumbed down, made-in-rural-China version of the V10s in terms of everything apart from reliability.

    5. I don’t think people really have a problem with the actual sound of the engines. The problem is in the drastically lower decibel levels. They don’t sound like F1 cars anymore.

    6. Having only been following F1 these last few years, I have seen off the V8’s and welcomed the V6’s; all the while never having heard v10 & 12’s firsthand. I must say I always enjoyed the V8’s roar, although I never really raved about, like the way some people do when talking about 80’s engines.

      The V6’s I hear coming from this season excite me. They seem to possess a larger ‘soundbank’: some whines, some whistles, some roars and some pops, it makes the sound less predictable and thought provoking I suppose

  5. Yes, on TV the sliding around and being more tricky will give more interesting viewing. And the sounds are muted out to protect our ears anyway. But clearly its not quite the same when you are at a track and have handed FOM half a kingdom to do so.

    1. Maybe the FOM should look for a different place to put the microphones in the car, currently they have one on each sidepod, that’s why it sounds rather muffled.

  6. Frow what I’ve heard, the V6 sound waaaaaaaay better than the V8. Of course, it’s quite hard to compare loudness on YouTube so we’ll see.

    1. I heard a YouTube clip of the Ferrari during testing, and even when they aren’t pushing the engines to their limits, it still sounds better than the V8s to me. There is that “whir” or “whoosh” of the turbo which is very evident, but I think it sounds muscular.

  7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    4th February 2014, 13:01

    I really like the V6. The whirring sound of the turbo is just plain badass.
    Sure, it’s not as iconic as the V8 or V10, but it’s not worse either. It’s just… different.

    But honestly, good racing easily supersedes the sound. And if 2014 produces sublime racing, then bring it on!
    I’m giddy with excitement!

    Also, if anyone hasn’t seen it yet, this is the best quality (picture and sound) video of the new cars in action that I’ve been able to find.

  8. I agree with you guys about the V6. It doesn’t sound bad, just different. As long as there’s cars going round the track and it’s not the winter break anymore I’m happy :P.
    I personally thought that the V8’s sounded best in late 2011 when the blown diffusers were in full effect. One of my favourite pole laps to watch is Hamilton’s Korean pole in 2011: partly because it was the end of Red Bulls run but also because the V8 sounds badass on downshifting. Kinda wondering if anyone else agrees? Normally people hate the EBD sound.
    This is my first comment on this site. Is it ok for my to link a video of the pole lap so people can see it?

  9. I’m not a fan of the new engine note, though I do like the turbo noises.

    I guess one advantage is that I wont have to worry about wearing ear protectors in the stands at the next race, because they’re clearly no-where near as loud as the V8s.

  10. I think the F1 car as a stand alone showpiece is harder to sell now with a V6…..the V8 and V10s were easy to take to a city square and do some smoky burnouts and donuts and get a crowd excited….not going to be the same with the new cars. However the quality of sound with the V6 is an improvement over the V8s, there is much more going on, and if you can truly be able to distinguish between engine sounds while watching on TV, that will be a major plus. We will have to wait and see if the loss of downforce creates a better spectacle once on track.

  11. The safety/medical car has had the best sounding engine on track for years anyway, I remember a few years ago there was a helicopter shot before the race at one of the european tracks (all I remember is lots of trees, might have been Hockenheim), and the sound it was making blew my mind. That was the pre-SLS car.

  12. I think people have to complain about everything, it’s like a need or something.

  13. Not ‘truely’ amazing, more ‘spectacular’.

    I consider myself not to be a fan of rules which are created just to put more money in people’s pocket books who don’t work for it. Not very sporting.

    (Side Note) The Ferrari FXX and Honda HSV sound better than what I have heard so far, so sound really isn’t something F1 can claim to be on top of.

  14. I was at Jerez….. The cars sound rubbish

  15. You could make a phone call at Jerez because most of the cars weren’t running, silly.

  16. I’m disappointed with the direction F1 is headed, all in the guise of cost cutting. But in reality, the new engines and regulations are costing teams more, not less. And all we fans get for this are reduced speeds and tires intentionally gimped so that talented drivers are reduced to the worlds most highly paid babysitters, nursing the crap tires around the track. It’s pretty pathetic watching races only to hear race after race engineers telling their drivers to slow their pace, the tires are dying…..after two laps. Ridiculous. Now we get flatulent sounding engines that no longer scream around the track, they wimper. I get less and less excited to tune in for a new season each year. I spend more time watching other racing series, such as lemans, dtm, tudor, indycar, etc. etc. and less watching F1. Sad but true. Bring back the innovation, stop handcuffing the engineers and aerodynamicists, and let the drivers do what they do best, push the cars lap after lap at qualifying pace when necessary instead of worrying about exploding tires.

    1. Agree 100% but you are banging your head against the proverbial

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