F1 should not act in haste over engine noise


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When F1’s 22 drivers revved their V6 turbo engines for the first start of the season in Melbourne three days ago, not everyone was impressed with what they heard.

Among them was Bernie Ecclestone, who wasted no time in telling anyone with a microphone that these engines, which he’s hated all along, are wrong for Formula One.

It’s no surprise Ecclestone should find himself underwhelmed by the first flying start with the new engine formula, because he wasn’t there to hear it. Twenty-odd V6 turbo engines will sound a little gutless to you if you’re in a different continent.

Australian Grand Prix promoter Ron Walker, who can usually be relied upon to toe the Ecclestone party line, also chimed in. Walker’s widely-reported comments to The Age about the race being “not what be paid for” need to be seen in that context, as well as the fact that the Australian Grand Prix’s contract is up for renewal next year.

With Ecclestone already talking about making changes to the engines to alter the acoustics within the next few races, a bit of perspective on the new sound is needed.

How concerned are F1 fans about the noise made by the new engines? An F1 Fanatic poll of 700 readers conducted during the weekend showed a mix of views with the balance of opinion towards the positive:

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The majority of fans appear not to be unduly concerned by the noise but a significant minority (30%) aren’t happy with what they’re hearing. This tells us there’s more right than wrong about the sound of the new engines, and though there is scope for improvement F1 should ensure any alteration is a change for the better, and prioritise that over acting hastily.

Leaving aside the question of whether anything can be done immediately, as the specifications of this year’s engines were homologated last month, there are huge potential downsides to making sudden, ill-considered changes to the engine.

Tweaking the exhausts to increase the noise, for example, could seriously alter the performance and economy of the designs, with obvious consequences for each team’s competitiveness. And having only just digested an enormous rise in engine development costs, F1 badly needs stability in its regulations to allow the cost of engines to fall and relieve the pressure on its smallest teams.

There’s no doubting the new engines are quieter than the old ones. The FIA says the noise level has fallen from 145 decibels to 134, which at close quarters is still above the threshold of pain.

However as Ecclestone banished all but the wealthiest of fans from F1 paddocks three decades ago, few get that close. And if the blast of engine noise seemed underwhelming at Melbourne, a temporary venue where spectators can get fairly close to the action, it’s going to be even less at vast expanses like Bahrain and Shanghai.

But sheer volume alone isn’t everything, a point made by many readers in their responses to the poll above. Though quieter, each of the new engines offer distinctively different sounds, which the bland V8s didn’t. They also allow fans at the track to hear other sounds – the screech of tyres locking and, usefully, the commentary on the public address system.

We also need to see the change in engine noise in its wider context. Formula One is not the only racing series embracing smaller-capacity turbo engines to stay in step with the needs of road car manufacturers. And noise pollution regulations are an increasing problem for some circuits, something quieter racing cars could help to address.

As Ecclestone’s naked hostility to the new engine technology even extends to trashing his own sport in the press at the first race weekend of the new season, you have to wonder how hard his broadcasting company are trying to make the engines sound good as they can on television.

But by urging a rush to change the engines F1 risks making hasty, expensive and potentially controversial alterations which could cause more problems than they fix. Knee-jerk reactions like this usually cause the sport’s biggest changes for the worst.

F1 should take time to see how the public’s attitude to the engines develops, see if it is reflected in ticket sales and viewing figures, and make considered changes based on gathered data.

In the meantime its top priority should be to correct past knee-jerk mistakes – those which F1 fans have unequivocal views about:

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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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196 comments on “F1 should not act in haste over engine noise”

  1. I think an easy fix would be to up the trackside volume on the FOM feed.

    I genuinely had to turn my TV up so loud to properly hear the noise, but then I had Croft barking over it every 2 seconds.

    1. Totally agree. The engines don’t sound bad… they sound different. The problem with the broadcast was the sound balance (on BBC at least) between the commentary and track side sounds all but made the cars sound silent. It was better on headphones on iPlayer, but the problem is easily remedied.

      1. The BBC have listened to the fans and have adjusted the sound balance starting this weekend. Just watching qualifying now and its much better, thanks BBC

      2. Totally agree….better with Head Phones on.

    2. I think the same, particularly during qualifying when cars are more often alone and almost soundless. This is a particularly good point which I had considered before.

      As Ecclestone’s naked hostility to the new engine technology even extends to trashing his own sport in the press at the first race weekend of the new season, you have to wonder how hard his broadcasting company are trying to make the engines sound good as they can on television.

      I certainly wouldn’t put it past him.

      1. *which I had not considered before

        1. Yes, I’m starting to wonder if Bernie is so far gone that he’d trash the sport just to get something HE likes. He completely ignores that 95% of fans absolutely hate double points, yet feels compelled to change the whole sport and spend tens of millions to change the sound because 30% truly don’t like it?
          Bernie either thinks we are all stupid or he doesn’t care if we can see through him. Perhaps a bit of both?

    3. This is absolutely what I thought. Just turn the trackside volume up and the commentators down. Job done.

      1. Hi everyone! I’ve been checking F1 Fanatic for a while now and decided to sign up in order to be able to use this forum. This is by far the place where comments are the most serious and relevant. Sorry if my english seems a little scholastic, I’m french and promise to try my best.

        I actually agree with you about ajusting the trackside volume up and comments down, for people like us wwho are watching it on TV. But I also think that their main worry is about the track attractiveness. I’ve been to some races in real life (Monaco, thank you Proximity) and never experiences such a beautiful mechanic noise. You can fool the TV audience, but people that are actually paying the equivalent of a rent won’t be so easy to federate.

        1. This is 100% correct. Having been in the Paddock at Jerez this year and heard the engines first hand they sound very unimpressive compared to the V8’s and V10’s. On the other hand I thought how nice they sounded at the weekend on TV, quite raspy and rich.

          The problem is for the fans at the circuit things just don’t make the earth move as in the past!

      2. Totally agree. Turn commentary down…noise is just relative to other noise and silence!

    4. @ecwdanselby Absolutely. I’ve been saying precisely this all along!

    5. Sorry, the sound of the new engines has no excitement or passion. I remember stepping from car at Silverstone to hear F1 cars live for the first time and also moto GP bikes at Donnington, both made me grin and chuckle and want to get anywhere where I could soak this up more. F1 is supposed to be a spectacle, not the everyday reality of limits, reduction, restriction and polite green motoring.
      New engines are a BIG mistake, It’s no good saying this is the future of F1 if it sounds boring.

      1. OK, that is your subjective opinion, and completely valid. I actually like the new sounds better as they differentiate and have more nuances.

        But one thing I don’t understand is this: All that noise that you can FEEL for 200 meters in every direction literally shaking your body, the ground, the air, EVERYTHING…that creates a sphere of 33.5 MILLION cubic meters. Think of all that energy wasted that could be making the car go faster.

        These new cars a couple of seconds slower, per lap, right now but that is due to the lack of downforce more than anything. I love the new top speeds and the faster acceleration. And I’m betting they’ll be faster per lap by next year, at least on some tracks.

        I like racing because it’s fast, not because it’s loud. And yes, the Audi’s at Le Mans are AWESOME when they go buy so quietly compared to the cars they are passing. I was at Petite Le Mans when they last raced the Peugeot’s and it was awe inspiring.

        1. Mr win or lose
          19th March 2014, 19:25

          All that noise that you can FEEL for 200 meters in every direction literally shaking your body, the ground, the air, EVERYTHING…that creates a sphere of 33.5 MILLION cubic meters. Think of all that energy wasted that could be making the car go faster.

          It doesn’t take a genius to understand that more efficient engines should produce less noise, so this was a predictable outcome. In fact, a reduction from 145 dB to 134 dB means the cars are over ten times more quiet, right? That should be a noticeable difference, but I don’t think the new engines are too silent, rather the old ones were too noisy.

          1. No it´s a logarithm, 10 dB (A) +/- means about double/half noise. With 135 dB (A) it´s still pretty loud, protuding the threshold of pain.

        2. You know, I liked F1 because it was loud, cool, fast and let the driver’s race to the limit. FIA’s over regulation and desperation have killed the magic with tyre mgmt and all the cr-p introduced this year to mention some. There are more people like me in this respect. To add, I think Le Mans diesel racing is incredibly dull.

          Unfortunately, there is not a quick fix to this mess. It starts with FIA understanding why fans loves F1 and start to act accordingly. However, with today’s mgmt, it will not happen. It is FIA and not Bernie we should focus – seems like most people have not understood this.

          1. We don’t agree on the sound, but I can understand your view. I feel the same about the degrading tires, double points, etc. So I’m really not trying to be a jerk, I just don’t care about the noise as much.

    6. Yes!

      Although I will still miss the roar of the engines as the red lights come on!

    7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      19th March 2014, 18:12

      I think they should hire sound engineers to “equalize” the sound to make it more appealing to TV viewers. I don’t want them to just make it LOUDER because that DOES NOT necessarily mean BETTER.

      They need to hire serious sound engineers who improve the sound just as they improve the picture and remove rain or make it lighter.

      1. I’ve been to Melbourne last weekend and I gotta say, the event had less people, less sponsors and less track side events than previous years… For the sponsors, it could be the insecurity as to whether F1 will remain in Melbourne but.. As a hardcore fan, I would attend next year for sure, but I’ve got a couple of friends that attended F1 last weekend for the first time and they were not impressed by the sound… I agree that the turbo sound amazing but when compared to the “Ultimate Speed Compatison” thing they do where they used a RB7, wow I could immediately see the excitement in their faces.. I know that sound does not make the car go faster. However, being able to hear the cars from the other side of the track, downshifting etc was really exciting as you could feel a race was going on at full heat! Now you see a few car go past and then a minute and a half of silence… I could not even notice the cars where coming until they were around 100m from me!

        The sound of the engine was certainly part of F1 that made people interested in attending the race track even for those who has no idea of racing…

    8. I was there. It was terrible! End of story. I didn’t pay a small fortune to see 5 sec a lap slower cars “wiz” around the tract. If I wanted that I would have stayed home and watched go carts!

    9. Agreed ecw. It’s as simple as that.

    10. Or just playback last year noise in TV, actually Bernie is pushing his next big part of selling F1 !
      heres is your ticket, would you like extra loud with that sir ? Think about it, he can sell real noise headphones on track, better yet choose your noise tribune, the seats can various degrees and as many speakers as the fan wish to listen, also floor shakers and later a hold a button device and sprinkle water/oil, tire explosions, 3 sec boost, all at customer expense at will.
      Wait is Maybe in this year videogame !

    11. I was at the Melbourne race.The engines dont sound bad,THEY SOUND PATHETIC and this was my last race unless the sound gets better.
      Prepare for empty stands if this is not rectified.Melbourne must be mad to renew its contract with this rubbish.I expect many other cities to pull out as well.
      F1 has self destructed!

    12. Bring Back The Awesome V10 s

      We Don’t Want your boring environmental agendas We Want Thunder We want POOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWEEEEERRRRRRRR !!!

      We Want Real Engines , No Puny 1.6 L Hatchback motors , No Fake Or simulated Noises ,


  2. I just don’t understand all this backlash at the sound. It’s like the sound is suddenly the be-all and end-all of the sport. Last year everyone was complaining that F1 was too predictable, not that they loved it because of the V8 engine noise.

    The first race was absolutely brilliant and these new F1 cars offer plenty of positives. A dip in engine volume is a worthy sacrifice.

    1. The main improvement this year was not to be talking about tyre wear. There were so many other things happening that the tyre wear was a fairly small factor. It’s good to see F1 being on the cutting edge of a technology, and not just adapting the specifications in an attempt to artificially hamper the cars.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        19th March 2014, 19:36

        +1 – it’s hilarious how tyres have been displaced by sound. Tyres affected the quality of the races. Sound affects the perceived entertainment and excitement. If in doubt, watch F1 muted and then with sound. It’s night and day…

    2. It’s not a sacrifice – it’s an improvement. My proof is that Bernie disagrees with me…

      1. I would say so as well, but for different more sound reasons:D (no pun intended)

        I seemed to have missed the bit were it was explained why louder is better.. Honestly, not once I’ve heard it. I am dying to know way these people think that louder noise is better, why, why is it better?

    3. Often you don’t know what you got until you’re missing it.

      Sound of F1 cars has been one of the headturning things. That loud screaming sound from a ridiculously high revving engine. Don’t even try to to make it sound like no one cared about the sound before. It’s been a profound base of what makes an F1 car for a long long time. These v6 engines sound more bland than many road cars.

      1. These v6 engines sound more bland than many road cars.

        Oh? Which ones?

        1. A Prius, for example.
          Joking aside, I think the engines sounds really cool. What I don’t like is the fact that crowd noise is capable of drowning out engine noise on the broadcast.
          I also didn’t know F1 tires squealed so much.

        2. @mike

          Judging by the video from the main stand in Melbourne:
          Carburated Countach, F40, F50, E46 M3 (CSL), E30 M3, GEN II Viper, anything with a 427 Ford V8… Personal opinion of course, but still… The new F1 engines, while they don’t sound ‘bad’, aren’t really doing anything for me in the goosebumps department.

    4. I think people are misunderstand this a little:

      Many do believe the engines sound great! The trouble is, we can’t HEAR them.

      I resorted to plugging in my PC speakers (which include a bass unit) in the hope I could hear a deeper growl, and a little more volume.

      Instead, all I got was Crofty’s loud reactions to everything, even louder.

      It really is a fundamental issue, this. It shouldn’t be completely ignored, and we shouldn’t just be told ‘oh get used to it’ (I’m looking at you, Claire Williams and Toto).

      I think a very simple adjustment in volume (on the FOM feed) would calm a lot of this whole debate down.

      The bottom line is (for me, at least) – this shouldn’t be ignored. It’s an issue when this many people have raised the point, and it’s an issue when many other categories are louder (and therefore giving off the impression of power) than the top tier.

    5. @tommyb89 +1 from me.

      I’m astounded that Ecclestone is trying to undermine the sport and technical progress by wanting engines to be louder again – because of wasted energy! The man’s a throwback. F1 is doing the right thing by going down the technologically progressive route. The LMP1 cars are also quiet and I don’t hear anyone complaining about those.

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        20th March 2014, 8:43

        @mortyvicar – The diesel electric Audi R18 e-tron quattro is quiet, nearly silent, the petrol hybrid Toyota TS030 REALLY ISN’T!

        1. @william-brierty they’re very quiet compared to the Corvettes and Astons (and Spykers in years gone past). Not as whispery as the Audis true. It’ll be interesting to hear the new 4-cylinder hybrid Porsche.

          1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
            22nd March 2014, 12:10

            @mortyvicar – From my extensive research last year, which essentially consisted of going to Silverstone a lot, I deduced that a Vantage GTE or particularly the rather NASCARish C6-R GTE was actually louder than an F1 car. The TS030 is not quiet, it’s just quiet compared to those things.

    6. The sound is different and less impressive but it’s not bad. Sure the V8s roaring were an event in itself but it’s gone and I can cope with that.

      Ask me if I’d like to get the V8 sound back I’ll tell you “yes I do” in a minute but if doesn’t come, I won’t spend my days moaning about the sound.

    7. There was nobody complaining about the sound of F1, because it hasn’t been an issue before. Whenever the FIA changes things, usually for idiotic reasons, they take something away, that nobody imagined could be taken away.
      6 or 7 years ago nobody could imagine that literally 90% of F1 cars would look downright ugly because of rule changes. In the times of V8, V10 and V12 engines nobody would have thought that at some point F1 might be getting ‘too’ quiet. Or even too slow!

      It’s exactly what Toto Wolff said about the points. They didn’t “think” it would produce such a backlash. They don’t really think at all. They just decide stuff, regardless of what the people who actually watch F1 and throw money at their sponsors think.

      @keithcollantine really got to the point in the headline. They act in ***** over pretty much everything. At the end there are half-***** regulations with ridicolous rule-changes that get overthrown a couple years later because apparently nobody really put serious thought into it… (No tyre change during the race? One-shot qualy?)

      What we end up with is a series that is riddled with corporate decisions to include all sorts of unrefined tech, that makes the cars too heavy. Which is exactly the opposite of what most of the car industry at the moment tries to achieve. Rules impossible for newcomers to understand quickly and bring nothing to the excitement of the sport.

    8. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      20th March 2014, 8:40

      @tommyb89 – Certainly, the sound of the V6s is a lot better than I expected, and I really do like the sound, especially of the soulful wail of the Ferrari engine of the straights. In my opinion, following the ban on exhaust blown diffusers at the end of 2011 we had two seasons of F1 sounding the best it has ever sounded, and yes, I am including the V10 era when I say that, which I personally thought was at times slightly tinny and didn’t think was a patch on the quality of sound the V8s managed, ranging from deep and clearly defined downshifts through to an utterly glorious and blood-curdling scream that vibrated every seat in the grandstand.

      However the problem with the V6s is not the sound, but the noise, or rather lack of it. Not being a fan of loud noises (I am the one that asks the DJ to “turn it down a bit” when he asks if there are “any requests”) the noise was what worried me the most before I attended my first race back in ’85, but it subsequently became the reason I went to races. Twelve, ten or eight cylinders compelled me to keep going to races, and the intoxicating vibration from both the grandstands and the garages, for me, transcended the experience of spectating F1 from a merely visual hobby to a physical experience. I hope six cylinders manage to keep me hooked…

  3. In before Bernie clips microphones to the back of every car to boost sound.

    Or the Bub Rubb exhaust whistlers…

  4. I have to wonder whether the TV coverage has adjusted their sound optimally for the new engines yet, both in terms of the levels and the frequency of the sound? Sure these engines are about half the sound levels of the old ones but 134db is still pretty loud so that should come through loud and strong on the TV. I think the lower pitch of the sound may be both reducing the perceived level of noise further as well and also the pick up on the mics may not be adjusted to the new frequencies. Additionally is there an issue of the source of the sound moving to the rear of the car with the exhaust away from any onboard mics? I’m sure somebody with the relevant audio knowledge can comment.

    1. Good point. When I tuned in I thought exactly that if FOM used last years setups, then the cars could sound pitiful. In order to cope with the old engines, the track side mics will have been setup in a way that doesn’t clip (distort) even with the extreme volumes and pitches of the old cars. According the the FIA’s numbers, the new cars are 92.4% of the volume of the old ones. If they were genuinely at 92.4% of the volume of the old cars, surely there would be fewer complaints? I’d love to see other readings than the FIA’s press releases to verify if this is the case.

      Frequency wise, it probably depends on the microphones unique settings. In theory any compression or noise cancelling on the old cars would have been mostly geared at eliminating parts of the high end of the old engine scream. This could potentially have a negative effect on the V6’s, but again that could have been counteracted by bringing the levels up.

      But I think there’s something else at play too. Like in other TV sports, the goal of the broadcast is to translate the the experience for our screens, but not to depict something that isn’t happening. Making cars sound loud when they are not would be as bizarre as including fake cheering noise from a quiet crowd.

      1. Wasn’t that 92.4% of the decibel figure? In real terms that would make it less than half as loud as the old engines. That’s pretty much backed up in reality from what I’ve heard from those at the track.

      2. They are not 92.4% volume of last year as the decibel scale it a longitudinal scale. It is not a straight line but a curve. Every 3-4 decibels is twice as loud as the ones preceeding it from my understanding as an ex marshal. From what I know for certain, our track was limited to 105db, and 103db was fairly pleasant, 107db was pretty uncomfortable (standing at 45º and exactly 50cm from the exhaust exit) a very noticable difference.

        That said, im in the camp that likes the new sound. And being a trained sound engineer also am 100% confident that the poor tv sound is totally down to the broadcast engineer and mic placement. 136db is very, very loud still. Louder than a full symphony orchestra.

        1. Logarithmic scale sorry.

        2. As far as I know every point on the scale is 10 times the value of the previous one. So 101db = 10*100db. I might be wrong, though…
          The good thing about this noise issue is that I can hear better what’s being said between the drivers and the engineers.

          1. I’m fairly unfamiliar with the workings of the decibel scale, but I’m pretty much certain that is wrong. These new engines are not 10^11 (100 billion I think) times quieter than before.

          2. Yeah, I was totally wrong. Sorry about that.
            Every 10 increments on the db scale is 10 times the previous recording. So 10 db->10, 20 db=100, 30 db->1000 and so on. However that is sound intensity. For perceived sound volume, greg c was right, 10 db means twice as loud.

        3. 3-4 db increase is not twice as loud, most people with average hearing will only just notice a difference of 3 db,
          10 db increase is around the level that folks “perceive” twice as loud,

    2. As a point of reference, about a decade ago I was interviewing the live sound guys for a Marilyn Manson tour, and they were complaining that the band was incredibly loud onstage – as high as 130db.

      134db is very loud.

  5. I think AUSGP was the first time I heard on tv the cheer of the spectators while the cars are running at full speed and it gives another dimension to the race.

  6. Seriously? Double points, DRS, fall apart tires, fuel limitations. These are the concern’s of the fanatic. I drive a 1975 Falcon with a 5 liter V8, which has the quickness of cheap Kia with a 1.8 liter engine. It’s called evolution. Engines are becoming more powerful. So if they want to keep around the 1 1/2 hour race and limited speeds for safety then you need to drop the engine capacity. BTW the old XB 302 Falcon sounds fantastic.

    1. Wrong. If you look at the next generation of supercars, most of them are going to be Hypercars with V8 engines. Only a very select few are still using V12s or V10s.

      1. @mashiat I don’t think you’re looking at the right hypercars. The McLaren P1 and I assume the Ferrari The Ferrari are all using hybrid engines with energy recovery systems. You know, the ones that are in F1 cars now?

        1. That’s is the point I’m making. Correct me if I’m wrong but most cars are going in the direction of F1 and not the opposite. And also correct me if I’m wrong but does the McLaren P1 have DRS? And the Ferrari KERS? I rest my case.

          1. Aren’t you all making the same point?

          2. @electrolite
            I have no idea what @mashiat is commenting on. The first word being”Wrong” and then he goes on to point out engines are evolving(I think). Unless he is saying that a 39 yr old V8 can still hold it’s own to a modern small capacity engine. Granted an old V8 can has more torque than new small engines which means that hill climbing is quicker, but on the flat newer small engines are quicker. Interestingly my wife wants to race me in her newer Corolla.

  7. Sound is important because… erm. Well I cant think of any reasons right now, so please just take my word on it.

    1. It’s like trying to explain to a total novice why car enthusiasts (mostly) like rear wheel drive vs front wheel drive.

      Though they aren’t IMHO the new engines just sound weak. Usually in cars, loud = powerful and quiet = weak.

  8. I am against quieter new engines but at least for this year nothing should be changed.
    Small teams do not need extra costs to implement new exhaust system. Moreover, I am pretty sure that in 2-5 races we will get used to this sound.
    I definetely like the range of sound. But now I doubt that it is worth visiting F1 race this year. It will be much cheaper to attend some other races and have the same quality of sound.

  9. I really like the sound of the new engines. Sure they don’t sound as good as the old turbos and even the V10’s but I think they are an improvement over the high pitched whining you got with the V8’s over the last few years. Keith raised the point in the article but I think the fact that each of the three engines has a distinctive sound is really great, a vast improvement over the homogeneous sounds all the engines produced before. I also enjoyed being able to hear the crowd as well; the way they roared when Ricciardo crossed the line on pole was fantastic to hear.

  10. I don’t like the sound of the cars, but Formula One has much bigger problems than the noise of the engines.

      1. I do like the sound of some of the cars, the Williams on-boards with it boosting its little heart out sounds cool, some of the passing by sounds , meh, pftttttt,
        but 100% agree with slr that there are much bigger problems

    1. I’d argue that that’s not necessarily the case.

      You have to think about first impressions for this season.

      You turn on the race/qualy, and the first thing you do is wonder where the noise has gone.

      That’s a big issue.

  11. I have to say as a TV viewer, I love the new sound. Before, engine noise was a constant scream overwhich the commentator talked; and that was the sound of F1. Now you have a throatier noise in which you can hear the turbo/ERS working, and you can also hear tyre screech, and the crowd reaction, and even sometimes the trackside commentator. It helps to make it more like a real-world event and takes something away from the layman impression that it’s “just watching a load of cars going round”. Given the prices for attending, I’d wager that the people who go to GP are the more core fans who would come regardless. Meanwhile for the millions who watch it on TV, the new noise (IMO) is certainly an improvement which can only increase the “passing-trade” which FOM seems to be wanting so much.

    1. Totally agree.

      Also, it must be pointed out that some motor racing circuits are under threat from their neighbours and local governments because of the “excessive sound”. Brands Hatch and Spa are the ones I can remember immediately.

  12. Ecclestone’s “naked hostility” to these engines and the noise is almost as open as your own naked hostility against him and his double points. I realise this blog does not have to be impartial but your stubbornness towards that rule and snide negativity towards Ecclestone is really starting to grind.

    Sometimes this blog desperately struggles for balance.

    1. @joshgeake If it happens that my point of view doesn’t agree with his that’s the way it is. It’s certainly something I’ve noticed recently but I’m not going to change it just because some people are going to leap to the unreasonable and inaccurate assumption that I’ve got something against Bernie Ecclestone.

      Nothing in the above comes remotely close to being ‘snide’ to any but the most thin-skinned. Which is definitely not something you could accuse Ecclestone of being.

      1. stick to your guns and give us YOUR view, we can all chip in with comments.
        PS for me…the engine noise sucks, my lawnmower sounds more like a proper F1 car !!

    2. Balance? Did you not see the results of the poll? There was certainly no balance in that. Why would any fan of sport not show stubbornness towards such a rule?

      And I very rarely hear people speak in defence of Bernie. The most they can normally manage is point out that a long time ago he did some good things for the sport.

    3. @joshgeaker, yes @keithcollantine has time and again failed to balance the view of the 96.5% of people who are against the the double points with the overwhelming 1.5% of people who quite correctly feel that double points for the last race will attract millions of new viewers who will watch every race and lobby their local TV station to provide more F1 programming. More balance please Keith.

    4. I don’t think @Keithcollantine needs to struggle for balance, but he usually is pretty good at just finding it; in this case I would say that Ecclestone is the one being unbalanced, hence a balanced article might easily be critical of his claims, especially when contrasted with his actions, or reputation.

    5. @joshgeake False perception of “balance” is the core problem of modern journalism. Everyone tries to present both sides as if they were equal, while for the most part they aren’t. Here we have a reasonable opinion that all races should be worth the same, and a crazy opinion that some races should only be worth half. Presenting the two as equal creates an illusion of balance, but it’s detached from reality.

      It’s the same with many other topics and I’ll jump straight to a controversial one: climate change. We have a scientific consensus that it does happen and that it’s largely man-made. There is an overwhelming amount of peer reviewed studies substantiating global warming. The scientific research for the other side is almost nonexistent, yet media always manage to find some corporate shill who will say otherwise, just to present “fair and balanced” view of the problem. If “balance” goes against reason, I choose reason.

      1. Exactly, and could lead to a worrying precedent where political parties like the BNP are looked at seriously rather derogatorily.

        1. + 1,000,000

    6. Keith is entitled to his opinion as is everyone. He usually puts a ‘for’ and ‘against’ in all articles, then voices his feelings. I can’t see what more the guy can do to put out a balanced view. To hear you complain you would think Keith was running a crusade against Bernie. I suggest to look at old articles on this site, then feel free to apologize.

    7. I think you’re forgetting this is in fact a ‘blog’.

    8. Even the team bosses were surprised about how universally panned the double-points rule has been. I don’t think it’s fair to blame Keith for representing the opinion of the majority of the fanbase.

    9. Keith your article is the best I have found so far about the sound issue! The poor quality of the TV broadcast, that´s what I thought myself. Every spectator of the Jerez test event who posted a video on youtube did a better job sound-wise than the official TV squad of F1 in Melbourne-strange, isn´t it? Could it be that Ecclestone ORDERED that to get the reason to start a new sound controversy?? Ecclestone not present at the venue, nevertheless whining? Embarassing, but no surprise. His stubborn-dictatorwise behaviour and his divide et impera-attitude just irks me.
      Personally, I like the deep humming of a V6 turbo more than the high-pitched scream of n/a engines, I won´t miss them. If the new turbo engine would sound like their 80´s predecessors we will look into a bright future.

  13. Sound is the money shot. It’s not the most important thing but it is disappointing. The unintended consequence of the new regulations which on the whole seem positive. F1 is a TV sport and if TV demands more noise it will get more noise. I for one would welcome more screaming less burbling.

    1. I think overtaking, battles, edge of seats “CMON” and chequered flags are more money shots, sound is just a byproduct is it not ? . I feel that the days of all consuming noise levels are a welcome memory, I just got back from a QOTSA gig at around 120 db and i would have enjoyed it more had it not hurt, Surely some clever sound tech will fix the TV sound up so its gnarling and throaty and whistlely and screechy and cheery, I feel with the screaming engines of past (last year) that thats all there was, screaming, I for one am happy to have more for less.

  14. The lower decibels is impossible to avoid with a turbocharged engine.

    Naturally aspirated will always make more noise for a few reasons. The exhaust flow goes straight out the exhaust pipes. The energy of the exhaust is basically heat, light and sonic energy.

    The new cars, however, require the turbo fan to be forced by the exhaust energy, which in turn will dampen sound, transfer heat and absorb sonic energy. The energy of the exhaust is also powering the ERS, so there is energy transfer there as well. The sound has to be lower, and thats the laws of physics at work.

    Get used to it. I like hearing the spool, the waste gate, the tyres squealing upon lock up.

  15. Great article Keith, but I fear Formula 1’s fondness for knee-jerking will prevail.

    I haven’t heard the engines in person yet, but one advantage for me personally is that I could take my daughters to a race one day. I remember when all our family went to the 1994 race in Spa, me and my brother had a great weekend, but my 11-year-old sister was miserable most of the time, mostly because of the noise levels (Ok, the weather could have been better, too :-).

  16. Brilliant article mate!

  17. I like the new sound a lot, especially since I’m watching on TV most of the time anyway – you can hear so much more ambient sound, which is great. I’d hate to see a kneejerk reaction from the FIA, as the law of unintended consequences would no doubt apply here as it seems to do with all their other rule changes.

    I adored the sound of the V10s and V8s at the races – I still remember arriving at Silverstone during Friday morning practice the first time I went to a GP weekend, and feeling compelled to run from the car park to the circuit as soon as I heard that insane scream – but it certainly wasn’t a comfortable level of noise, and it could sound irritating on the TV.

    1. Yes, fond memories of hearing yowling V10s from halfway across the town of Monza and knowing exactly which direction to head. But I enjoyed the screeches and cheers on TV too, and the distinctive Ferrari engine note.

      What did Bernie think of the engine noise when they were all turbos before – in 1985 & 86?
      Has he just got to that age where he needs to turn his TV up really loud?

  18. petebaldwin (@)
    19th March 2014, 13:00

    I agree with most of the other comments. The sound of F1 is important but it’s not something that affects the quality of races or the championship.

    Double points, DRS, car-park tracks, racing in Bahrain/Russia, unfair distribution of prize money, putting money ahead of fans, Bernie in charge, unfair FIA elections, moving races from historic tracks to new ones in rich countries where F1 isn’t popular, a grid half full of drivers who bought their seat, races hidden behind a paywall etc etc.

    All of these problems are far bigger than the sound that F1 cars make. The only problem is that all of these issues make Bernie richer whereas the sound issue doesn’t. Simple really.

    Honestly cannot wait for the day he’s out of F1. It’ll be a huge day for the sport!

  19. Predictable article conclusion. Bernie should indeed focus on areas that really matter.
    As for the sound itself, on tv that was not good, and live, well, I’ll hear it at Spa.
    So I don’t have a complete opinion right now but if it could be a bit louder it wouldn’t harm.

  20. As someone who actually attended the race on Sunday I must admit while the actual sound emitted from the cars is of great quality the volume is far too quiet. Nobody wants to hear tyres screetching or crowds cheering to the point where they become the show this is not a Football game its Formula 1. The v8 supercars and Porsche Carrera cup support races were substantially louder on the day. One wonders if the apparent decibel drop to 134 db is measured 5 cm from the exhaust!
    Unfortunately it will be difficult to change volume of the cars from here on in so it seems like we are stuck with it!!!
    If I had my way id have left the v10 configuration with a reduced capacity of approx. 1.5-2 litres and then allowed the turbo and ers system, that way everyone ( 90’s v10 fans, turbo fans, treehuggers) are all happy!

  21. I think we’ll get used to the sound of the V6’s, but the lack of volume is an issue as it is an essential part of the experience when you go to see a live race.

  22. In this raw footage from Sky the engine sounds amazing in onboard shots https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym-mfiJK78A

  23. No matter what changes happen, there will always be critics.

  24. “Though quieter, each of the new engines offer distinctively different sounds, which the bland V8s didn’t.” I disagree, having been to a Grand Prix (Spa) I could tell you the difference between the three, granted it isn’t as distinct, but it was still there.

    I don’t mind the new sounds, we’re fans of formula 1, not engines and we should learn to get on with life and the changes. I agree it could be louder as that was some of the appeal, but at the same time noise is energy loss, so the teams probably don’t mind it being quieter.

    1. I went to Silverstone twice and could never tell the difference in the engines. You could perhaps tell which cars were pushing more than others, but the engines sounded identical to me…

  25. To me it isn’t so much the sound itself as what the sound is signaling, a muffled sound and a castrated sport.

    – Revs kept at 15.000 rpm where we know that the bleeding edge would be closer to 21.000
    – Then not even that since fuel conservation dictates everybody to short shift it well below the 15k mark
    – And if it wasn’t for fuel conservation, the tires dictates absolutely no racing at the limit anyway.

    The sport is broken, sorry to say.

    1. So just how much power do you want these cars to produce? Because there needs to be a restriction somewhere, so where would you draw the line?

      1. the restriction is fuel consumption, and the weight you add to the car in order to make the consumption work.

        a lot of people have this notion that security and morality needs to be regulated. Fortunately this is not the case. The power that the cars produce and their cornering prowess are dictated by the performance of the tires, and what the tires can withstand.

        This isn’t competition, it’s an advertisement for all the sponsors and a philosophy called austerity.

      2. Maybe around 1000 hp, as you can buy production cars with that amount it ought to be safe for the drivers of f1 as well.

        But its really mute since neither the fuel restrictions nor the tires will let drivers race and take their engines to the limit anyway.

        So start there, with a realistic fuel limit/flow and tires that are actually build for racing.

        1. Maybe around 1000 hp, as you can buy production cars with that amount it ought to be safe for the drivers of f1 as well.

          I don’t see the logic there at all. To be honest I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more power, but that reasoning doesn’t make sense to me.

        2. Oh but your are good with 15.000 RPM 1.6 liter? as arbitrary as anything.

          It’s hard to say a fixed number, takes much more thinking than that, my thinking with 1000 is, ahem, physiologic, believe it or not, getting back to F1 being the pinnacle the not-so-interested needs a wow factor which “1000 hp” is. Also its where the v10 finally landed before they were discontinued, the awe factor was just so much bigger back then IMO.

        3. Yeah there are road cars with a 1000hp, which weigh a good two tons. Even the P1 weighs around 1300kg or something like that. I’m not against more power, but to bring that you have to bring other technology from road cars, traction control, stability control, movable aero parts. Which honestly, would be for the best. You won’t see modern F1 cars drift like rally cars anyway. make them modern then. give them the technology available in road cars. All of it. And then see what happens.

    2. Oh Please!

      If I have to believe the “fans”, the sport has been “broken” for as long as it exists. With all due respect, but the moaning I hear today is of the same caliber that maintains, loudly, over a pint in the pub together with the moaner’s equally “expert” buds, that everything will be fine if we take all the electronics out and go back to stick shift. That line of thought had a beard even before it was born.

      From my comfortable seat on the couch I saw a race that was a lot more exciting than I anticipated. Hell yeah, I like the V8 or V10, or V12 sound a lot, but the V6s sounded quite fine, and I’m in the camp that likes the plethora of non-engine sounds that emerged.

      I also saw cars moving around a lot more, off-line being a lot more tolerant than before, and a slight but noticeable reduction in the dirty-air zone.

      I, for one, was quite entertained by F1 delivering high drama, action, amazing technology, controversy, and all-over astonishing achievements by every single team member once again – all of them reasons why I love the sport.

      1. You saw what you wanted to see, for two-three years we have heard almost every driver on the grid complain that they cant race because of tires, I guess you are wiser.

        Now on top of that they cant race because of fuel restrictions.

        I’m Danish, I ought to be all over the place over excitement over Magnussen… What did he do… Pass Hamilton on 5 pistons in the start and was not allowed to race Riciardo at lap 50 since he had to safe fuel… thats its, and this is supposed to be a great race. Great cruise as it is…

        I think the sound issue will leave a mark, combined with eco racing where the most economic driver wins and artificial overtaking this sport can’t be sold as the pinnacle anymore, now watch the magic seep out. This sport needs a LOT of money coming in, without any spectacle thats going to be very difficult to maintain.

        1. You know plenty of drivers have had to hold back due to fuel in the past, including last year?

          1. And this is supposed to make it better how?

          2. It’s supposed to highlight that you seem to be longing for a classic period of F1 which isn’t actually representative of how F1 has generally been.

        2. Eco racing… spot on….conserve this, conserve that; same in all forms of motor sports to some extent though…just gone too far.

  26. If there is 134 decibels and it doesn’t sound loud enough on TV, then FOM is not handling the microphones right. That is loud enough to make your ears bleed and if they really want to fix the issue for TV, then they could easily do so through mic location and/or cleaning up the signal.

    This is blatantly political and Bernie is doing this to get his way. He can’t retire soon enough for me. He’s way into senility and gets away with it because rich people are “eccentric” while the rest of us would be labeled crazy and ignored.

    At the track itself, people will get used to it. I understand that some people will not like it as much and may not go to races if the sound was their main criteria for attending live events. I personally get a headache even when I wear earplugs all day at the races. So I am MORE likely to go now and I actually like hearing the distinctive notes of the different engines and all the new tech kicking in.
    And it was a great revelation to hear the crowd cheering for RIC as he came down the stretch which I’ve never been able to enjoy on TV before. The sound was impressive with the V8’s by it’s sheer power and magnitude. But it became numbing after 2 hours on the TV while trying to actually hear the announcers and the radio messages from the crew. I thoroughly enjoy the new engines and the different sounds I can hear now.

    If Bernie wants to put on more of a show, the tech is easily available off the shelf for him to stick a mic up the tailpipe of every car and stream that sound over the internet. You can tune in and watch the race on TV while streaming that V6 engine sounds from your favorite driver straight to your stereo and make your ears bleed just like you were at the race…if that’s what you’re into. Just apologize to the neighbors in advance.

    1. That is loud enough to make your ears bleed

      @daved I didn’t know there was a bloodbath at Melbourne this weekend… Lol, people were not even wearing ear protection even near the track… I guess it would have rattled some of their ear wax

      1. @onebhk LOL Have you ever heard those bloody Jags revving up at Le Mans GT races? It sounds like a cat being tortured in the depths of hell with 150db megaphone to announce it’s “fun”. Now THAT will make your ears bleed. The Vettes truly made the ground shake like rolling thunder. You could feel it in your bones and it was impressive…and then I saw them getting passed by those nearly silent Audi’s. Yes, they were LMP1’s vs GT’s, but it was so very eye opening to realize how little that sound had to do with performance.

  27. Funny really how suddenly a lot of people are conserned with the lower level of noise. Compare this video of an the LMP2 car from Audi and the enthusiasm of the maker of the video mentioning how amazing it is that its so quiet.

    1. Memory fades quickly. I remember when Audi introduced diesel turbos’ there were a few complaints about the (lack of) noise, but their incredible performance has put paid to critics. Isn’t it an LMP1, though?

      1. Yeah, Audi’s never made an LMP2 car, not least because those are more often specialist manufacturers rather than road car companies.

        1. indeed guys, I was in a hurry typing that, off course its an LMP1 car!

  28. With quieter engines, perhaps a race at Brands Hatch could be on the cards? How great would that be?

    1. @rsp123 That is potentially another positive to the new engines! Some race organisers won’t be as concerned about noise pollution hopefully, we could find ourselves with a few more night races on the cards too!

    2. i like the sound of the new cars but the volume is so low on tv(indycar is louder and they also use v6 but without ers and stuff)normally when i watch the start on tv when it gets to the 4th light and the engines revved my hairs would stand up and for the first time in my 6 years watching f1 they didnt stand up at melbourne this year. sound is of the main aspects of motor racing.

      fom are quite frankly becoming a joke with there poor tv production i dont know why they remove most of the sound for tv and onboards and things like endless start replays and switching to the wrong action. for example there is a video on youtube of a guy driving the 2004 ferrari using a go pro camera(or similar) and you could hear all the noises like how it growls on downshift and fom onboard of the 2004 ferrari you couldnt hear these sounds)

      1. Quite agree about the FOM TV production – they have no competition, no incentive to make it better. Lazy, repetitive, unimaginative. It would have been good 20 years ago; today it is dull and formulaic, and entirely focussed on getting ads in shot. We don’t even get much sense of which country the race is being held in.

        I suppose there has always been a business element to the marketing of F1. That’s fine. It has to be financially viable. But in the last 20 years F1 has turned from a sport into a real circus – a travelling theme park attraction – in which the sport is about as real as wrestling, and the entire focus of the thing is financial: how hard can fans and sponsors be squeezed?

    3. Ooooh hadn’t considered that, and it’s just down the road! Nice thought!

  29. The results of the polls are interesting.

    The fact that almost half of people think the engines are at least good says quite a lot. I do like the differences in the sounds. I also like the fact you can now hear the crowds, tyre lock-ups and other things in the background. As oppose to the same noise on repeat for approximately 1.5hrs, I feel it adds a bit more character to the cars and the drivers. I did have the pleasure of hearing the V8 engines in person on two occasions at Silverstone. One of those days was wet (2008) and the other was dry (2009), and yes, the engines did sound fantastic, on both days, and they were deafeningly loud. But should I hear these new V6T engines in person, I feel like I would prefer the new ones. I like change, and I’ve come to accept the new engines already.

    Yes they’re considerably quieter, but for all the positives they bring, so be it. I prefer them.

    The first race wasn’t an instant classic, no, but I’m still incredibly excited for this new era of Formula One. Give it time.

    Double points on the other hand, no, don’t want them.

  30. “However as Ecclestone banished all but the wealthiest of fans from F1 paddocks three decades ago, few get that close.”

    This just isn’t true, for a 80 euro general admin, I’ve been close enough to have ear pain both in Monza and Cataluna….just sayin

  31. Interesting but I think you’d get a very different response if it was poll of people who had attended the GP rather than a majority who were watching it on TV. The lack of noise is going to be genuine concern to organisers/promoters as it seriously lacks the sense of power and occasion the V8’s had, and I heard plenty of people complaining at Albert Park. Instead, especially early in the race when the cars are all bunched up there are long periods of complete silence in the stands, while cars are on the other side of the track, where you can hear the birds tweet. Had Silverstone been the first race – ie lots more F1 Fanatic readers in attendance – I believe the result of the poll would have been rather different.

    1. @wombat1m, Interesting, your description of it being quiet when the cars were on the other side of the circuit, it reminds me of my 1st. F1 (strictly speaking F Tasman) in the 1960’s, you could hear the trackside broadcast telling you what was happening and then the you would hear the exhaust increasing in volume as the cars came into sight reaching a crescendo as they roared past. I liked it then, I like what I hear now.

      1. An interesting perspective, but not being rude I wasn’t even born then (although I did grow up in the 70’s fairly near the Knockhill circuit in Scotland and remember being able to hear the sound from several miles away on race weekends). I also feel the cars didn’t were really reaching a crescendo as they droned past. Maybe if you have enough historical perspective it works, but the difference between recent years and now is just enormous.

    2. @wombat1m I think that’s a fair point, but other than allowing people to self-select whether they’d been to a race or not (which would inevitably be open to abuse) that’s tricky to do, and getting a decent sample size wouldn’t be easy either. But these are people who will vote with their feet – if they were sufficiently unhappy with what they heard, the consequences will become clear in ticket sales.

      There’s been a mix of responses from people who were at the race in the comments here over the last few days, many of which you can find here:

      Do F1′s new engines have the right sound?

  32. I quite liked the new sound to be honest. Yes its quieter than what were used to be I don’t believe that quieter immediately makes it worse, Just different.

    you have to wonder how hard his broadcasting company are trying to make the engines sound good as they can on television.

    I think any ‘problems’ with how the sound came across on TV was more down to Sky/BBC than it was FOM.

    I say that because I’ve seen footage from the FOM satellite feeds & the sound levels/quality on those was a lot better than what came across on the main Sky/BBC broadcasts. Sky in-particular seemed to have a very low audio-mix on there main program, Especially when been viewed through there Red Button app.

    1. Here’s an example from the highlights channel of the audio levels been sent out from FOM:

  33. The only race (if it is on future years F1 calendar) that should earn double points is Nurburgring’s Nordschleife…word.
    About the sound issue, V8’s were loud but horrid. V6’s are not so loud but it’s a really nice sound, you hear the turbine, the squeel of the tyres, the ERS systems, AND you can distinguish three different types of sound/engine…I love the 80’s turbo sound so…

  34. Bernie has always made more noise about everything than any iteration of F1 power plant sounds. That’s what he does, he creates problems where there aren’t any and then provides a supposed cure to keep himself in that F1 supremo position. As stated, he has been against the change to these more productive, smaller capacity, less cylinders motors with massive torque, from the start. He has now found his supposed justification and is trumpeting it loudly as always.

    Any changes to these new motors to produce more decibels, or whatever, would be as artificial as, well, double points.

    Mr. F1 supremo should be out there celebrating stridently the new found low end power that makes drivers really have to reach into their bag of skill to control their twitchy torqued up powerful beasts of cars in this new era of F1. He should be extolling the virtues of tire squeals and that these motors still sound great while also providing a higher level of safety for the fans eardrums.

    I think the motors sound great in their own way. They sound unmistakably like a race car being driven in anger. Bernie can spin it any way he wants. The way he chooses to do so says more about him than the way these cars sound.

  35. I just can’t accept this notion that all the billions of Euros, all the engineering talent, all of the massive sponsor following, all of the thousands of people who pay half a month’s salary just to watch, all of the huge companies investing in the technology, all of the infrastructure which has been put into place, and all of the rest of what goes into making F1 what it is, all of that is founded purely on a desire from people to hear loud noises. And that without loud noises, no single aspect of the sport would be enough to redeem it and keep it in business. Because that’s basically what Ecclestone is saying; that without the loud noises, all of those things above would basically disappear.

  36. What about upping the rev limit? If the v6 is allowed to achieve the high revs of the former engines, wouldn’t that get more of the sound back?

    1. The rev limit is 15,000 rpm at the moment and not one team is coming close to it. The reason is that turbo engines peak at lower rpm, generally speaking. Had the 10,500 fuel-flow rule not been imposed, we’d have heard these engines motor-boating around at 8,000 rpm, rather than the 11-12,000 that we have.

  37. Keith, in fairness, how many of those in your poll were at the race? A bit strange to dismiss Eccelstone’s views due to his absence but then attempt to draw conclusions from a poll that is hardly scientific. Of course, if you know something about those polled that I don’t, my apologies. And it is certainly noted that you called for a long-term analysis. Engine sound is of course subjective, but for those who’ve heard a direct comparison, the difference is striking, and not in a good way.

    1. Like the sounds of old F1 and new F1 the tastes of Cheddar and Gruyere are different but they are both cheese and which is better is a matter of personal preference, for the Swiss growing up with Gruyere many are likely to prefer it over their 1st taste of Cheddar, for the English it is likely to be the opposite.

      1. They are both yummy. But, while cheddar makes a lousy grilled cheese sandwich, Gruyere is spectacular. Some things are not good for other things.

        1. @dmw I am bound to disagree with you on the vitally important topic of toasted cheese sarnies – a good Cheddar with a splash of Lea & Perrins or scrape of mustard makes the very best ones. De gustibus non est disputandum, etc.

        2. @dmw, well that just proves my point, I am afraid I am with @dirgegirl on this one, much as I like Gruyere in a sandwich when it comes to grilled cheese Gruyere is to mild (quiet?) Cheddar has more “bight” (louder?) for me. It seems that 1 persons croq monsieur is another persons welsh rarebit.

    2. But as 95% plus of the overall audience watch it on TV anyway, how it sounds at the track and how many of the voters were actually at the track is slightly irrelevant isn’t it?

  38. The sound sucks and F1 is headed toward being irrelevant. The end.

    1. F1 is headed toward being irrelevant

      Not according to the engine manufacturers, Who lets not forget were the ones who pushed for the new engine regulations.

      Thats the point which many fans are missing, The FIA consulted with the engine manufactures (You know the guys who actually spend the money on designing & building them) & this was the sort of formula the engine guys said they wanted.

      Indycar held similar meetings with the engine manufacturers to discuss the engine formula most interested them & guess what, Indycar also ended up with V6 Turbo’s.

      Fans can complain all they want about the new formula, But if its the engine manufacturers most want then what else do you propose?
      Staying with what we had or going back to V10 or V12’s, Engines that the manufacturers have no interest in producing & this a formula which will likely have turned engine manufacturers away from F1.

      We already have Honda back next year thanks to the new formula, There’s that Pure company who have an engine design which just needs funding, Cosworth are developing a V6 turbo, Zytek have expressed interest in joining f1 & BMW recently expressed interest in a return (With DTM looking to goto a similar engine formula).

      1. Bring back the H16 I say.

        1. Bring back the H16 I say.

          That particular engine configuration didn’t exactly prove all that successful back when it was used.
          Overweight, Underpowered & thirsty which required larger fuel tanks & therefore a heavier car with other design compromises.

          Ferrari moved away from the V12 in 1996 for similar reasons, Contrary to popular belief the FIA never actually banned Ferrari from using a V12, Ferrari simply opted to move away from it because the V12 brought them too many problems.

          1. And unfortunately silent a lot of the time it wasn’t supposed to be.

          2. The H16 that is.

      2. Well, may I stress that car makers open their wallet because of F1 being what it was. If less magic and for sure less people at the grandstands, I would suspect they will spend less.
        The problem is that FIA have ruined much of the wow factor or that magic. Sound is one thing – eco drive via fuel-limits and fuel-flow limitations, less power and speed and silly looks are other examples.
        Development and change is normally good but if you miss the fundamentals of the sport, you create lots of damage. FIA has taken F1 to that point and (finally) it has come to light. There is no quick fix to this unfortunately. My prediction is that F1 will slide into the grey mass of other TV-entertainments.
        To me…it is sad times.

  39. I heard on the radio this morning (NPR) a little quip about how people are mad about the engine noise. They played a clip of a V8 from last year, which sounded glorious, and of a new motor, which sounded like a Dustbuster. The announcer explained that the new engines sound bad because they are hybrids. Now, for you non-yanks, first, for this to get on the air on NPR is amazing. They usually focus on “hard-news” and then on urban farming, and book readings, etc. And if you know the politics with them, the message clearly is, “bros are mad because hybrid, so let us now sample their earth-hating tears” I did not immediately stop my car and make an angry call to complain about the biased, nonfactual reporting. (Forgive me F1Fanatics.) But they would have just played my call as an example of an earth-hating car-bro who needs to let go and love a hybrid.

    As far as the noise. Let’s separate two things–volume and quality. I don’t mind at all that the volume is down to a mere 134 decibels. The last race I went to, my ears rang for a week. I had earplugs, but the sound was coming through my chest and out of the ground. So it seemed. I’d like to take my kid to a race without thinking she will have permanent hearing loss even with proper defenders. As for quality, I think the new motors have a bit to be desired. The turbo v-8s of CART back in the 90s sounded fantastic. Old skool turbos from Group B, Group C, etc., made some gloriously manly popping hissing roaring sounds. Plus flames! The new F1 turbos have the sound quality of a well-mannered road car. Where are the flames, the jet-like whine, the evil crackling and popping off-throttle? Seriously, it sounds like the 2.0T in my old Jetta. It’s not hard core.

    What can be done? I suspect nothing. One thing they don’t need is more decibels. It’s loud enough now, thanks. Can we make the turbo sound fiercer? I hope so. part of the problem is that the revs are too low and the displacement too small, which are not easy fixes.

  40. If they want louder sound, put 2 turbines and let them inject 200 liters per hour + let them have 200 kg of fuel for race)))
    Turbine itself muffles the sound, so there’s not very much you can do.

  41. As long as the powers that be don’t make knee jerk decisions it should be all right. I think watching from tv it wasn’t AS bad as I expected, where the problem is for people that have gone to multiple grand prix over they may feel underwhelmed. But surely F1 had to change to these regulation, surely it was the only way for the future of the series.

  42. Do the V6 turbos in Indy cars have two exhaust outlets or two turbos? Somehow Indy cars are much meaner sounding than F1 cars are now, even though they’re quite similar in the engine department.

    1. Its down to the engine manufacturer.
      Last year the Chevrolet was twin-turbo while the Honda was a single. This year Honda have moved to a twin-turbo setup.

      As I understand it the reason they didn’t allow twin-turbo’s in F1 was because they wanted to move to the single exhaust exit in order to eliminate all the various exhaust blowing & other designs that were used to get more downforce from the diffusers the past few years.

      1. Honda’s single-turbo Indy motor sounds bad-a**. Damn.

      2. Also Indycar runs 2.2ltr engines without all the energy recovery systems & with a lower rev-limit (12,000rpm) producing between 650-700bhp.

        F1’s running 1.6ltr with the energy recovery & a 15,000rpm rev-limit.
        On its own the engine produces around 600-650bhp but the ERS bumps that upto 750-800bhp.

  43. Michael Brown (@)
    19th March 2014, 18:17

    For me, the issue is that the FOM feed is too quiet. When watching the cars onboard without commentary, they sound incredible when the volume is turned all the way up.

    1. @lite992 As I point out above I don’t believe the issue is down to FOM, I think its more down to the individual broadcasters as on the raw FOM feeds which I’ve seen the volume levels are fine.


  44. No large concert or stadium sporting match these days takes place without the strategic placing of “atmosphere” mics. The technique is as old as the hills and is essential to convey the live sounds not only to a TV or radio audience, but to the spectators present themselves. 134 db is at the threshold of pain, and if you were exposed to it for any significant length of time, permanent hearing damage will result. ASk me how I know. The V8 noise level was unsustainable and was, to me, a huge irritation after 15 mins.

    I believe the poster who suggested Bernie was being slightly unenthusiastic about replacing the lost vibe with sufficient trackside mics had it right.

    This can be fairly easily fixed for both types of spectators without messing with the motors, IF the track has halfway decent PA faculties (and lets face it, many of the stadiums are newish) and IF FOM can be persuaded to put in the extra kit necessary.

  45. I think it was great to hear the crowd at Oz. The issue is, when we visit the oil-money tracks there aren’t really any crowds there and hence this will be a problem for Bernie et al. and they know it.

    I miss the thrill of the previous engines but its time for change. F1 shouldn’t really be half-***** whichever way it goes, and at the end of the day the V8’s were just dumbed-down V10/12s. So in summary, I like the new engines but please FOM, adapt and turn up the microphones.

  46. They do sound pretty lame on the tv, but they always have. I’ll report back from Monaco (my 2014 treat).

  47. Increase.The.Rev.Limit. F1 engines are like no other engines on the planet. They do not thunder like NASCAR, rumble like big American V8’s, growl like an angry bear, or purr like a contented lion. Instead, they scream. They shriek, they wail, and they howl like a soul in hell and there is nothing else on four wheels that sounds like them. Make F1 engines scream once again and while it may not make everyone happy (because lets face it, nothing will satisfy some people) it will return F1 to its rightful place at the top of the Motorsport game.

    But don’t do it this year, wait until 2015-2016 to have the regs change. I know it will be a year or two of less pleasant sound, but we can all survive that, wait until Honda gets into the game and then make the change, but let everyone know that it is coming before the end of this season. That will give the engine manufacturers time to adjust and do more research and development. It will also lower R&D costs by spreading them out. Will it make the engines less reliable? No idea, Possibly, but with the regs about engine replacement penalties iin place, it gives the manufacturers something to think about when they want to crack the 20,000 rpm wall again with a 1.6 L turbo. Maybe F1 will stop sounding like IndyCar after a couple of years.

    1. Increase.The.Rev.Limit.

      Teams aren’t even going anywhere near the current rev-limit so raising it won’t change anything.

  48. Comments like these Bernie has made always make me mad at him and wanting him to leave Formula 1 for good. The thing is, I don’t think Formula 1 will survive without Bernie.

    Damn you old man!

  49. Bernie’s increasingly ludicrous other pronouncements (rain sprinklers), stupid ideas (double points races), races randomly appearing and disappearing from schedules, inability to conduct business in an ethical and professional manner, betray someone whose judgement and opinion on almost any matter is quickly becoming less and less valid. The sooner the sport is rid of his opinions the better.

  50. What F1 should do is ask Indy how they mic their in-car cameras. This Honda turbo V6 sounds righteous. Every bit as good as a 2013-spec F1 V8, in my opinion. And a 2014-spec F1 turbo V6 should sound reasonably similar. I think it’s got a lot to do with where mics are placed. Or perhaps the ERS-K and H are ruining the sounds?


    1. I think it’s the twin turbo/dual exhaust they use vs the single turbo/exhaust used in F1. Also, in F1 the turbo runs the MGU-H, which further reduces the energy of the exhaust gases (after all, noise is energy too).

    2. Audio on that video isn’t representative of what they sound like from the live in-car system. That video was done using a go-pro camera.
      This is the live race broadcast setup-

      In terms of Mic placement, The Mic’s are placed in the same place in both F1 & Indycar, In the sidepods just behind the radiators.
      Only difference is that F1 runs stereo Mic’s (1 either side) while Indycar just runs the 1 on the right side next to the in-car transmission box.

      The reason the Indycar’s sound different is that an Indycar is 2.2ltrs & has twin exhaust exits (Been a twin turbo). F1’s only 1.6ltrs & has a single exhaust exit out the back of the engine cover.

      From the direct in-car channels the F1 cars don’t really sound a great deal different to there indycar counterparts-

      I think a part of the problem with the in-car shots on the f1 world feed is that everything is mixed to 5.1 & some of the volume from the in-car shots seem to be getting lost as a result.
      Don’t think it helped that many broadcasters lowered the audio-mix further in order to get the commentary levels where they wanted them.

      1. Something else is perhaps that the Indycar engines are maxing out there rev-range. Indycar’s are limited to 12,000rpm, The engines are designed with that limit in mind & the drivers max out that limit.

        In F1 the Rev-limit is 15,000rpm yet at Melbourne nobody went anywhere near that so there been run well below the maximum potential of the engine.
        Thats perhaps dulling the sound a bit.

  51. @keithcollantine it is not often I will agree with you, but this article is 100% spot on and very well written too. Another few races and everyone will be used to the new noise (and noses). As long as the racing is good and competitive I am happy. Nice one!

  52. I was there as I go to Melbourne’s F1 every year. It was more than disappointing. F1 has lost it’s uniqueness to satisfy a small group of **** and vinegar in the form of ‘greenies’. I couldn’t even hear the cars until they were essentially on top of us (even without ear protection). I find it very hard to believe that the FIA claim the cars are 134 decibels. They sound very soft and while they are loud right next to you, this is for less than half a second.

    I can tolerate almost and physical change to the look of the cars in the regulations, but to lose the sound of F1, the one defining factor for going to see them in the flesh for that visceral sensation is a terrible decision from the FIA in my opinion. I have watched Friday and Saturday sessions on TV now that I am home and can tell the trackside feed ‘bass’ and ‘mid’ tones have been fiddled with over reality. I guess to make them sound more meaty instead of vapid leaf blowers. Even the Turbos of Yesteryear sound more like battle tanks over the new 1.6lr V6 engines.

  53. I have to wonder how many of those who voted in the poll were actually at the circuit. Television simply doesn’t illustrate how underwhelming the sound is. And my opinion is hardly an isolated one – it’s all I heard from spectators at Albert Park. Hearing conversations whilst Formula 1 cars circulate surely says it all…

    I find it hard to believe, but sure the new engines may only be 9 decibels quieter – however the tone simply doesn’t carry. You can’t hear the cars coming, and several of the support categories were louder. I echo the sentiment that the V6 turbos sound ‘good’, but their lack of noise leads me to feel they’re not Formula 1.

    You have to remember that people on this website are fanatical about the sport and will always accept its shortcomings, but I feel this is an issue that cuts to the core of what attracts people to F1 in the first place. The first-time, casual & potential fans of the sport won’t feel the same sensory experience they once did. I actually know this from experience too, having taken a mate who’d never seen Formula 1 to Albert Park on the weekend. He was excited beforehand, underwhelmed during, then almost resentful when he heard last year’s Red Bull circulate during a demonstration.

    I hate whinging about this stuff, but for a sport that’s always struggled to harness new fans this really could widen the divide.

    I agree a band-aid solution shouldn’t be found in haste, but I very much expect the pressure to act will increase as the championship returns to Europe.

  54. I think I share the same opinion as many people here: I really like the sound, but I feel there just isn’t enough of it.

    But I’m not going to make any sweeping statements or cast proper judgement until I’ve heard them trackside, where you get a true impression because you never get that through the TV and as stated in the article: “you have to wonder how hard Ecclestone’s broadcasting company are trying to make the engines sound good as they can on television”. Also, like many people, I’ll get used to the sound and level of noise eventually, which should help.

    As mentioned, F1 really has more pressing issues it needs to correct. They’re looking to improve the noses for next season which is a start!

    P.S. There is one thing I will miss about the V8s, which is hearing cars from the other side of the track or just from afar. I loved that.

  55. Great article.

    Honestly, I think the people who are complaining the loudest (ironically) are the same people who are declaring the championship over with Mercedes winning and take to Twitter etc. every time something changes. It’s been one race, but there are more emotional reactions now than after Silverstone last year, which was dangerous. I guess that tells you what this loud minority wants.

  56. I’ve mentioned here a couple of times my distaste for the new sounds of F1. That said, the current engine formula is here to stay for a while, and I won’t stop watching because of it. I’m no engineer, but I think that the fuel restrictions may have a lot to do with the weak exhaust noises we’re expected to get used to. If the FIA would allow the teams enough fuel (and fuel flow) to actually use all of those 15000 revs that the engines were designed for, there would probably be a bit more noise, less complaining about it, and maybe even some better actual racing.

  57. The only reason that I care about the noise (or lack thereof) is down to the reduced spectacle of watching the cars live at the track. The noise of the cars from my TV will never approach anything that is provided by sitting in close proximity to these engines at a circuit. In fact I actually prefer the onboard sound of these V6s to the previous V8s.
    My first live F1 experience was Patrick Friesacher’s Minardi coming out of the pits in 2005 in Monaco. I was standing at Tabac and it was absolutely astonishing. The shear noise as they pass in front of you at the harbour and behind you at St Devote is something I will never forget. That was the last year of the V10s and I was so glad to have experienced that. I went back the next year and the new v8s while certainly loud were a pale comparison. I have been to a few grands prix since then but to be honest the noise of the V8s if anything becomes a little annoying due to the fact that they all sounded so similar! So to be honest I wont miss the V8s all that much but I think my main issue is the fact that with this change to quiet v6s we are moving ever further and further away from the good old days of the screaming v10s and v12s and my need to go and see these cars live is basically gone. This is what I’m going to miss!

  58. They should’ve just had all the turbos run external wastegates. However, that probably wouldn’t have worked with all of the energy recovery systems.

    If you compare the engine notes of the 2014 cars, they sound very similar to the cars of the 80s. Biggest difference comes with external wastegates which had the added benefit of lots of backfire and more ferocious sounding turbo spool – easily as exciting to hear as the NA cars of the last 2 decades.

    Overall a design fix would be stupid with the season already underway. Maybe they get get something together for 2015. In the meantime the broadcasters need to crank up the volume on the TV feeds because the cars were virtually silent over the weekend.

  59. I would hazard a guess that most people supporting the new sound were not track side in Melbourne. And, many reporters were more or less OK with it, most likely because they were able to get really close to the cars. When the cars hit the European leg (with dedicated, vast, open racetracks), I’m sure everyone will be in for a big surprise – and not in a good way.

    I’m a mega F1 fan and never miss a race and attend my local race in Melbourne. A big part of the appeal was THAT sound. The scream of the F1 V10 and V8 was intoxicating and something to look forward to each year. These V6’s don’t sound like F1. Even the local V8 Supercars and Porsche Cup Races sounded better! A lot of us just waited around for the V10 RBR demo car and FA-18 fighter Jet to get our fix!

    Sadly, a change for the worse in this case. You could not even hear the cars when they were on the other side of the racetrack, but only when they were passing you!

  60. I think the new engine sound is to quiet, and I support any effort to fix the problem of quiet engine noise.

  61. I loved the V10s, liked the V8s a lot and I now like the current formula. I would still dearly love to attend a Grand Prix someday! Formula One just seems to fascinate me no matter what!

  62. i think that the worst thing about the F1 in this year is the double points.i can understand the new engine,it s for the economy on fuel, and i think its really impressive to see the same times(cuz i thin that it will be) that we have last year.But the worst of all is the double points in the last race. theres no reason.i think theres many ways to keep the evolution til the end of the year.but even when its one team ahead of with big gap, i think that its because deserve to this team to be here.And if one race count double its really crazy.cuz all the races is the sameand noone deserve more poits than the others.

  63. antonyob (@)
    20th March 2014, 9:32

    Having done a full scientific study, ie. listened to some YouTube clips on my iPad, I think the real issue is the sound is now a bit one dimensional, the normally aspirated cars have a burble, and some croaking and some screaming all mixed together and it’s fantastic.

    The current ones just don’t sound like thoroughbreds, they sound like a ford mustang…on economy mode.

  64. Among them was Bernie Ecclestone, who wasted no time in telling anyone with a microphone that these engines, which he’s hated all along, are wrong for Formula One.

    It’s no surprise Ecclestone should find himself underwhelmed by the first flying start with the new engine formula, because he wasn’t there to hear it.

    That’s obviously not true. Ecclestone never wanted the new engines and since 99% of people watch F1 over the tv it makes much sense. I agree with him, anyone should because there isn’t any logic to spend more money for the same output but I like the engines I’m glad they are here and in the end I don’t care about the sound.

  65. I have loved F1 for many years and 4 years ago I went to my first race. The noise was SO IMPRESSIVE! I went to the parts of the track that were surrounded by walls just to maximise the reverberations. There is just nothing else like it. It is the first and most significant you notice when seeing an F1 car go by for the first time and the thing you talk about first to anyone and everyone who will listen. Watching the live home video comparisons of last year and this is depressing. I get the change to the new engines and I get that this naturally means less noise..but it’s the main thing about being there.

  66. I like the new engine sounds (liked the old ones too). I like hearing the tire squeal now though, and the turbo just sounds cool.

  67. Most of the people that like the new v6 engines have never been to a live F1 race. Hearing the v10 or V8 engines screaming for the first time is what got me hooked.
    I’ve been going to the Montreal F1 for years now and this year will be the first race in about 10 years that I’m not attending.
    I’m not against new technology and change but race car drivers driving slow to save gas because of fuel restrictions and engines that sound bland is not why I got into F1.

  68. As to the difference sound makes to the race experience I saw my first NASCAR race, the Daytona 500, a few weeks ago. The speed was amazing, 200mph+, but the thing that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and put smiles on our faces was the sound of the cars. It was visceral, even a back marker going by alone away from the pack made you feel the engine noise. And when the pack went by it was an earth shattering, mind blowing, nerve jangling experience. Before getting to the race I never even thought about the noise but even as we got out of our car, parked about a mile away, we heard the engines, practice session, and there were smiles all round from my party. But the noise made by the new F1’s would produce none of that experience and I think would therefore detract from the live experience.

  69. Well there is a whole lot more to sound (or noise if its 85 dBA or louder) and sound also consists of Sound pressure and power levels. If a car burns 1,66 kg of fuel per minute it must produce a certain amount of exhaust gasses and no turbo or ERS system can remove these gasses physically and the gas must exit the exhaust. It can get cooled down to reduce the volume, but even if we take a 125cc motorbike engine, the exhaust can be made to sound louder (and probably louder than the F1 cars in Australian GP) or softer … heck I’ve heard 50cc bikes sound louder! lol If the FIA talks about a reduction from 145 to 134 dB then I guess it must be sound pressure measured right at the exhaust outlet, because 135 dBA is an air raid siren and 150 dBA a fighter jet launch. Then I still wonder what happened to the sound levels heard at Jerez during testing.?

  70. Fascinating reading all the comments for and against. I thought the actual race was a big improvement on last years pussyfooting around protecting the tires.
    Call me a big child but as a casual fan I love things like drag racing, and turning up at goodwood hearing the f1 engines rev up from over the other side of the hill. But as an engineer…. Hybrids look like the HyperCar / f1 future for a while yet.

  71. Trying to listen to the cars during the first race made me realise just how muffled the actual sounds of the event are and how much the immediacy of the experience is smothered by the BBC’s non-stop commentary. A few seconds of silence from the presenters now and again would let us connect with the race, but it seems the BBC’s policy is “never stop talking, even for a moment”. A feed without commentary would be great, both on-line and on TV.

  72. Having been to Malaysian GP fortnight ago I must say that the sound of the new engine is not really loud. Watching it from the tower section you really can’t hear the sound of the car coming from turn 5 and 6 going through 7 and 8. The only time i can hear the sound of the car is when the coming from the back straight and going through the front straight finish line…then slowly the sound start to lose again when the car reach turn 1. Unlike the old v8 engine better yet the v10..umphh , where u hardly speak because of the sound but it doesn’t matter because that’s what make F1 is special compare to other motorsport. The sound of the NA engine.

  73. I’m a huge fan of turbocharged engines but these V6 just sound awful. This is a racing spectacle and I run toward technical development but nothing here is an improvement. The V-10s wailed, the V-8s had a fantastic roar and these were the best bits of F1. I used to wake at 4AM to get a fix and watch live. It was easy to seduce new fans with the aural delights of V-8s at high RPM. Now they are quite underwhelmed as am I.

    If we were going V6, we should certainly have 20,000 RPMs. I understand the decision, I simply disagree with it.
    These V6 motors belong in minivans. F1 will never be the same. The bar has been lowered too far.

    Sleeping in.

  74. Ben Ringrose
    25th May 2014, 9:18

    I was just thinking if they want to make the engines louder with the turbo, why not replace the turbo with a supercharger (i cant remember which one works like a turbo). And instead of using the engines power to power the super charger, maybe you could use the ERS. This also eliminates turbo lag (something the ERS was supposed to do) and implements the new hybrid technology, just in a different way. Is this possible?

  75. Not what be paid for?

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