Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014

Potential to increase engine noise ‘extremely limited’

2014 F1 season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        1. Whoopee for you! You can take my families place – that’ll be 5 less from us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

          1. You can’t know that.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

        1. They are different though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1. @davids
        Raising the RPM limit won’t help. The engines are only running to about 12-13k RPM, because running it higher would be pointless when they aren’t allowed to feed it more fuel.

      2. Read the article! It clearly explains the RPM issue.

        Why comment without fully reading the content? Infuriating.

        1. I guess I forgot to add the “don’t restrict fuel flow – only fuel carrying capacity”
          That issue has been debated to death, though.

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

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

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

      The F1 noise “issue” needs context.

      1. Sorry, Italics running riot….

      2. I think you’re confusing motorsport with track days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    16. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      18th April 2014, 12:42

      I was thinking about this yesterday, and this could be a potentially dangerous idea, but, what if they cut two slits on either side of the exhaust pipe, so that the vibrations would cause them to bang together. I’ve seen some people have it on their road cars exhaust pipes for this exact reason, to make one hell of a racket.

      It could sound terrible, but at least it would be louder! ahah

    17. Who cares. F1 is about racing at the end of the day. Sure the noise helps, but it isn’t essential. I’d rather have close racing than loud processions. If it’s one or the other, then my mind’s made up. Time to end this nonsensical argument once and for all

    18. As a musician AND a racing fan, I can understand this issue. One thing is to listen to your favorite record at stadium volume, full blasting the speakers, and something totally different is to listen to that same song being played live, when the bass shakes your beer and the low drum hit you in the chest. That is sound pressure level. Still you can listen and enjoy the song at full volume at home, but the magic is just not there. I guess that’s the reason why so many people still pay for tickets for music concerts in an era of downloaded music.
      What I am trying to say is that since the very beginning the experience of racing is linked to the sound of the engine. It’s the bass drum hitting you in the chest, it’s an important part of the experience. It doesn’t matter if the engines this year are more powerful that last year: as an spectator you remove the sound pressure level and what you have is a lame mp3 encoded for your ipod.
      I remember driving near Interlagos and bring able to hear the amazing roar of those engines, and the adrenaline pumping. Our hearing the sheer power of that rotor engine at Mans. Maybe the engineers are happy with the magic way to optimize energy with these new engines, but to me are just the low quality mp3 sounding through my laptop speakers, when what I want is the bass shaking the floor.

    19. Talk about wasted energy – why are all these engineers and boffins even having to talk about this?
      Just reduce the Bernie noise – maybe the German judge can help with that.

    20. So people and the media haven’t found a new non-issue whine about? That must mean F1 is doing good at the moment, probably.

      Either way, this whole episode, I think, shows why the fans were unsuccessful at getting the double points rule thrown out straight away. Most people, largely of the non fanatic type, but not exclusively so, are simpletons, easily distracted by trivialities, guided by sensationalist media and people with obvious political agendas.

    21. I have a solution. We add parts to restrict engine noise and add powerful speakers. Then, the teams are free to play whatever they want, V16s, V12s, V10s, V8s, Rolling Stones, whatever they want, as loud as they want.

    22. I’m tired of the constant bickering in F1. Scrap these stupid homologation rules. The best racing will come from engine development. This season is already a foregone conclusion hence. I won’t bother to watch. The Fia has now stuffed up we too.

    23. First time I ever head a f1 v10 scream by at 19k RPM it became clear to me that the noise was actually irrelevant, those things were far to noisy to be any fun, this was not about a noise for noise sake, but simply because it was the most efficient way.

      Likewise the lack of noise from the current engines should be irrelevant (it will take away some spectacle though, not sure thats good for f1, f1 has always been the reference sound for a truly angry racing car), what is not relevant however is that any petrol head can tell that these new packages are being short shifted all the way up and rarely run to their max and that is NOT the sound of pinnacle, need to drop that 100l/h rule and let the engines roll to the max.

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