YouTube user, krookzeh, has made a terrific video that shows the comparison of the 2013 Formula 1 cars and the 2014 models. The debate continues over the sound of the F1 cars and this is perhaps the best comparison I’ve seen to date. It’s the entire grid passing in anger and you can tangibly feel the difference.

[vsw id=”jS4Dh_EAfJI” source=”youtube” width=”600″ height=”400″ autoplay=”no”]

The Melbourne race organizers are not too keen on the sound and even suggest that F1 could be in breach of contract. Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott told local radio:

“Ron spoke to (Ecclestone) after the race and said the fans don’t like it in the venue.

“We pay for a product, we’ve got contracts in place, we are looking at those very, very seriously because we reckon there has probably been some breaches.”


An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • mg5904

    You know the new sound doesn’t bother me much, although I was never a big fan of the V8 scream – too shrill. I do like the cacophony of wines and whirrs under breaking and the tire now apparent tire squeal. I also very much like a new, technologically intriguing engine formula as I feel the V8s, while tried and true and (relatively cheap), were getting a bit long in the tooth. If the engine note is such an issue perhaps acoustic engineers could mess around with it a bit or an increase in rev limit could be introduced in the future.

    Speaking for myself only, I feel the benefits of the new formula outweigh the negatives.

    • Dogstar20

      The benefits of the new engine? What… fuel economy? This is racing, not drive your daughter to the park. F1 is going to loose a lot of fans because of the new engines and ridiculous car designs.

      • DG13

        I agree with DOGSTAR20. F1 is the pinnacle of racing, cutting edge and as fast and quick as you could go. I feel that they just downgraded the formula. I think that the Le mans series is better suited to make technology advancements on Fuel efficiency, and they are actually doing it. Also, last year teams, and myself as a fan, were worried about tire reliability. This year I’m afraid that we will not see good racing due to the reliability of engines.
        I guess it will not be a good race when teams are saying that the objective was to finish the race.

      • mg5904

        “The benefits of the new engine?” Technological challenge and interest to engineers. Renewed interest by fans. Research and improvement

        I also think a large part of the problem with the engine noise stems from its translation through digital media and to our TV or computer speakers. I would wager that the cars sound a lot better in real life and that much of the “substance” and dimension is lost to latency and substandard reproduction.

        I’m not convinced F1 will lose a lot of fans due to the new engines or the ridiculous nose design – which I agree, the noses are embarrassing, but they are scheduled to be altered to a more aesthetic design next year. Yes, these PUs are not shrill V8s re. volume and tone, but then again the V8s were hardly a match for the V10s or V12s, and fans still flocked to races and the TV. I think a lack of online digital content, sprinklers, and another runaway season, whether merited by Vettel or not, would reduce fan interest more than these new engines.

        Even at their current pace I would disagree the cars are at the “. . . take your daughter [or son?] to park.” speed. I believe the racing and reliability that we are seeing now will be very different by the middle of the season, and certainly by its end. In fact I would go as far to say that by the end of the 2014/early 2015 the cars will be neck and neck with 2013 lap times. Could/should these technical changes been phased in slowly over time? Yeah, that probably would have more sense than dropping this massive engineering challenge on the teams all at once, but that’s not how this worked out.

        1 data point is worse than useless, but I’m not sure age has all that much to do with whether the current formula appeals or not. I’e crested my 40s and am now staring down now towards 50, and I think it’s alright.

        • dude

          I’m sorry, you can argue about as much as road application and technology as you want, Le Mans is way ahead of F1 in this and has been experimenting with different fuel saving technologies for years, and they apply much more to road cars than F1. There is a place for those things, its Le Mans and Formula E, F1 should be about going as fast as possible.

    • It does raise a decent question, which we’ve been arguing for years, which is “what does F1 owe the road car industry, sustainability industry and the world at large?”. Dogstar raises the specter again in that racing is a proving ground so arguably this is the ground that manufacturers want to “prove” but I suspect it is the cultural winds of sustainability that are driving the changes as well as trying to lure automakers back into the sport with their millions to keep the whole carousel spinning. No matter what the motive behind the FIA and carmakers, the reality is you vote with your remote and it will be interesting to see what happens.

      • Rapierman

        Todd, maybe it’s the old generational gap, only we’re on the other end of it.

  • Just listen to the difference in the sound and look at the peoples reactions and you’ll get your answer.. I got the chills listening to the 2013 video which is still missing something from the V10’s but I was totally turned off by the 2014 video… F1 is going to lose many fans if nothing is done.. F1 is now a thing of the past and I predict that it will be out of business in 3 to 5 years if they don’t go back the other way.. V10’s with high Rev’s is F1.. it now looks and sounds like a bunch of old Massey Fergusson tractors as per one TV announcer… When I close my eyes and just listen,, I personally think it sounds like a bunch of 4 stroke dirt bikes driving by.. F1 is very sick..

    • Amen WPICKY77 you’ve hit the nail on the head! I have been very skeptical of the turbo engines sounding like crap & had my worst fears realized trackside in Melbourne on Saturday. They actually sounded quieter & worse than what I expected. I too was a fan of the golden years of V12’s in the 1990’s and was fortunate enough to see a number of Grands Prix with awesome sounding Ferrari’s, Senna’s V12 Honda, Yamaha even had a V12 with Jordan in 1992. I don’t care what greenies or techo heads say F1 is supposed to be loud! There was nothing else on earth that sounded like an F1 car until last weekend. You can hear flat drony sounding turbo engines at a car club event! For me F1 was murdered last weekend & for those that are with me jump on board with 2 forum posts of I have on “Turbo’s will sound dead boring” & “Have save F1 Bernie”

  • Johnny

    Being a keen follower of F1 for some 40 years I have witnessed many changes and I viewed this ‘new season’ with apprehension bordering on doubt as to what to expect and what have I got
    disappointment on both sound and vision, particularly sound
    I, maybe foolishly, saw F1 as the ultimate in team sport where the best car with the best driver, albeit sometimes too often, wins the day with the best part being seeing and hearing the action
    I believe the FIA have got all wrong with this new formula, i wonder if they really know just what they are trying to achieve I agree with DOGATAR20 and DG13

  • It seems to be such a slippery subject in that if F1 is wanting to appeal to a young crowd, then determining what the crowd wants is certainly something they would want to do. If the future of F1 is dependent on that younger crowd, then what is the younger crowd interested in? What do they value and how does F1 fit that mold?

    It is a big move when you change like this in order to appeal or address some financial or ideological goal. When a band changes, they can often times lose their core or legacy audience and the hope is they will appeal to a newer, younger crowd. Do you like the old U2 or the new U2? U2, like F1, is pinned to my youth with their Boy or October or War album just as Joh Player, Lotus 72 or the Ferrari 312B or even the Jordan 191.

    Like U2, they took a gamble and seemed to evolve and gain new fans while retaining some of the old fans. Can F1 do the same? If you lose the old fans and fail to gain new ones…that’s when it gets dangerous. NASCAR is doing a fair bit of that these days. With both stock car and USC series.

    • DG13

      If F1 has been trying to appeal to younger crowd, then they are doing it the wrong way. I will take your example of U2. Yes they have evolved, but still they are entertaining, and still have good music. Some people might like the older songs, some the newer, but still they can play the old ones and the new ones in the same concert and still be entertaining. The shows they make are huge, and every tour seems to be bigger and better, but still please all fans.
      I am afraid that what F1 has done is the opposite: they are lacking entertainment and it seems that they want to separate from what makes F1 the greatest motorsport. If F1 wants to appeal to younger crowds they need quality product, and part of it is the experience at the race track. Hearing the roaring of engines, creating goosebumps, makes people want to be in the driver seat is something that should not be lost on F1.

  • Formula Future

    Please president Di Montezemolo, pull Ferrari out of this farse.
    We want real flat out racing and you’re the knly one who can give birth to a new formula(obviously not involving FIA).

  • Rapierman

    Wait….you can actually monetize and sell a sound? I’ve heard of Harley Davidson trademarking their engine noise, but this???

  • eggo_man

    I’ve been following F1 since I was 17 in 2000. I’ll never forget the first time I went to a race. I could hear the sound of the cars running from miles away. When we got up close, I’m sure my eyes dilated and my jaw dropped. This year, I feel the same excitement thinking that awesome power is being produced by an engine smaller than the one in my 1.8L Toyota.

    Will I miss the ear numbing sounds of a full grid? Yes. Will I enjoy going to the race and hearing the tires lock up and the announcer at the track calling the race? Yes and yes.

    I’m more bothered by the regs dictating the exact engine formula rather that giving the teams a general efficiency requirement and allowing them to best figure it out.

  • Juha


  • Shocks&Awe

    This is what happens when people make money doing what they love. Money helps them achieve their goals and push them beyond — for a while. But then it becomes it’s own motivation, and the goals of the past — passion, speed, invention, glory — give way to the goal of making more money. That’s Capitalism — and if we’re to believe Marx and Engels, the inevitable conclusion is a revolution. Forza il Popolo!

  • mguizot

    formula 1 is more than just the sound and nose, i believe bernie knows more than that. he should appreciate the fans. not all the fans are consider the new sounds will be bad for the sport. but the fact V8 is no longer the latest technology. we have to see the spirit of the race, the power management is more complex than it should. we should learn this new things not just saying that sounds are bad, nose are ugly. that is to shallow. im a big fans of formula 1 and i read all the new technology update and review on the net.. it is super fun. why the “owner” of formula 1 say bad words about his house ? that is strange.. what you up to bernie ? i dont get it

  • Dansus

    The old sound is good for 5mins, then it just gets annoying. Cant say i miss it, if you want loud, watch WEC.

  • Dave

    I’ll gladly trade the sound (or what portion of it comes through the television broadcast) for a formula in which the cars are complex, powerful and unforgiving and the drivers make a much greater difference than in the past few years.

  • Alisha

    Guess I wont need to bring my earplugs to the track this season !! :(

  • Steph

    I can tell you from being at Melbourne this past weekend (and last year so I am aware of the sound difference!), I don’t feel the new engines take too much away from the race. I do think however, it is very dependent on where you are trackside.
    If you are on a long straight, you will be more likely to be let down by the lack of noise.
    Where we were was on the second-to-last corner, and I tell you- it is just as exciting to see & hear the cars down shifting and breaking into a corner, hearing the tires squeal as they corner and all the additional mechanical sounds.

    One other bonus, which I see is you can actually TALK to other race fans around you, sure you still have to raise your voice but it brings the social aspect back into the sport..
    I see more positives going forward for F1 than negatives.

    Also- I would imagine they could manufacture something to ampifly the sound of the engines to please the fans, it can’t be that hard to do!

  • _@Canuck_

    I think they could get the engines louder and more stereo sounding by having 2 exaust’s instead of 1,raising the rev limit and having 150kg of fuel to burn.

  • zzyzxx

    Almost everyone in the 2013 video is wearing ear protection, while no one is wearing then in the current video. The cars may have sounded great on TV, but at the trackside, you could only stand the volume for short periods before you were forced to muffle it with some sort of ear protection. I am looking forward to the USGP this year. I think that the trackside experience will be improved. Without Fanvision, the race was hard to follow last year, because the PA at COTA was inaudible over the engines with earplugs in. Without the need for ear protection, I might be able to talk to the people around me and hear the call of the race over the PA system.

    • Alisha

      Quite a few circuits that I have visited around the world broadcast the race commentary on FM radio, thus making it easy to follow the race (using ear defenders with built in FM receiver).
      Have been very dissapointed that COTA have not done the same over the last 2 years. Guess that they want to screw you into renting the ridiculously over priced Fanvision.

  • PM

    Ok so for arguments sake, lets assume that the new sound is not what we want. Now the question is, what should we do about it?

    Should we ditch the new engines in favor of the old? No.

    Should we raise the rev limit and allow more fuel to burn? Isn’t that defeating the point of the new engine?

    Should we impose mandatory exhaust pipes that control the sound produced? Isn’t that imposing artificial, entertainment based rules, like double points?

    Maybe a solution exists where everyone is happy, but i just don’t see it. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • It’s a great question. Certainly nothing this year but what might be some tweaks that could be made? I think it’s a good question to discuss.

  • After listening to both audio feeds on decent quality headphones, I have to say there’s an interesting complexity to the new engine sounds, despite the lack of that visceral, brain-piercing howl from V8s. I’m interested to hear more, especially since this was only the first race of the new formula, and the engineering and implementation can only get better from here. (Or maybe it’ll get worse and the engines will be quieter and more boring. Hard to say, but I’m an optimist, so…)

    I do wonder if there will be an appreciable audio difference between power unit manufacturers now. As a MotoGP fan, I like that I can listen to each bike and hear a different growl and exhaust note depending on the manufacturer and how the bike is set up. F1 never really “sang” like that in the V8 era. They made a wicked sound, but it was a fairly uniform wail across the grid. I think it’d be interesting to be able to hear the difference between the Renault, Merc, and Ferrari lumps as they roar down the straightaways. Not sure if that’s going to happen, since they all have the same specs for cylinders, angles, capacity, fuel output, and exhausts, but a girl can dream, right?

    Oh well, at least there’s still MotoGP to look forward to…

    • It’s a good point because I can hear those distinctions too. Your point is well made in that a few races might have us telling a Ferrari from a Merc by sound alone. ;)

    • jeff

      Nem0, what did you think of the onboards? That’s where, for me, I hear the greatest distinction. In one of the other aural threads, I opined the Mercedes had the most exhaust growl and mechanical gnashing, with a nice overlay of turbo whine. I characterize it as (lacking better verbiage) an angry sound I found most pleasant. Ferrari had a distinctly whistling-whine to their turbo/ERS systems, less observable engine noise to me, less “gubbin-filled”; 2nd place. The Renaults… YUCK! A flat, horse engine note, off-key and wimpy to me… The thrumming one gets from a moderately powerful 4 cylinder road car engine (think Mini Cooper S/ VW GTI); in comparison to the MB/Ferrari, unpleasant.

      It’s one case where I really feel the volume pumping; like you, the on track distinctions are harder now; unfortunate, as the actual tones are more disparate. I’m not a MotoGP guy, but for road bikes, I understand; A GSXR sounds different than an Augusta/Duc/Busa etc… F1 to me is like that, but the volume knob needs a twist.

      Yup, much of the spec is regulated (displacement, DI bank angle, single turbo, etc), but firing order, exhaust diameter/header primary&length, compression, boost pressure, and ERS (hybrid) methodology are all different; although more freedom would be appreciated by the techno and techno-wannabe (me) geeks, there’s enough at the moment for variation in performance/sound/economy; we’ll see how much leeway FIA gives the teams for 2015 engine development.

      Bike-Racing-Mechanical Enthusiast woman with technical literacy? May I have you speak with my girlfriend please? :D

  • offcamberm3

    I miss the sound of the revs. I don’t know why but I just love to hear an engine screaming at ridiculous revs. Always gets my adrenaline pumping. I do not like the sound of F1 in 2014.

    Having said that, I love the extra torque, and less rear down force, especially in slow to medium corners. As David Hobbs is saying, there is a lot more driver in the driver seat this year. Watching the drivers struggling to get the power down out of the slower corners is awesome. Watching them catch the car when the rear steps out is awesome. The speed and precision that these drivers display when they catch a slide borders on super human. The countersteer input has to be instant and perfect. Pardon my redundancy, but it is awesome entertainment!

    I wish I could have both; last year’s sounds and this year’s driving. But if you force me to choose one, I’ll take the driving. I’m not qualified to state what car racing should be, but I believe there is some consensus that a driver’s skill should be an important factor.

    But damn I miss that screaming hair raising noise. So does my hair.

  • Tom

    I have to say, I was underwhelmed by the noise. I like the sound just as much as the V8 scream, but the noise level is just too low for my taste. I really didn’t think it would be THAT quiet.

    Having said that, I’m still in favor of the turbo engine. From a technological point of view, having an engine without a turbo never made any sense. It was just as artificial a restriction as limiting fuel flow…probably worse. Also, it makes the engine less sensitive to changes in airflow, which ultimately helps racing.

    The pinnacle of motorsport mustn’t rely on technology that was outdated decades ago. So yeah, turbo all the way.

  • Amen WPICKY77 you’ve hit the nail on the head! I have been very skeptical of the turbo engines sounding like crap & had my worst fears realized trackside in Melbourne on Saturday. They actually sounded quieter & worse than what I expected. I too was a fan of the golden years of V12′s in the 1990′s and was fortunate enough to see a number of Grands Prix with awesome sounding Ferrari’s, Senna’s V12 Honda, Yamaha even had a V12 with Jordan in 1992. I don’t care what greenies or techo heads say F1 is supposed to be loud! There was nothing else on earth that sounded like an F1 car until last weekend. You can hear flat drony sounding turbo engines at a car club event! For me F1 was murdered last weekend & for those that are with me jump on board with 2 forum posts of I have on “Turbo’s will sound dead boring” & “Have save F1 Bernie”

  • Andreas

    I’ve said it before, but to me – sitting at home in front of the TV – the sound was different, but not worse. I heard noises and sounds that were previously drowned out by the consistent howling of the V8 engines, and saw that as a positive.

    For the crowd at the track, I wonder if the actual volume they perceived was much different. Of course, in the audio track of the video, the 2013 cars were much louder, relative to the other sounds. But all the people seen in the 2013 video had ear protectors on, while the camera didn’t. That makes quite a difference. I suspect if you were to measure the actual loudness inside the ear, you’d find it to be quite similar with ear protectors on and a 2013 car going by, compared to without them when a 2014 car goes by. The difference being that you can actually hear the track commentary and speak to the people next to you.

    • Well sitting trackside in Melbourne I can tell you there is a huge difference in volume. When people go to a Grand Prix they’re used to being wowed by the sound, that sadly no longer exists. You can listen to flat drony boring sounding turbo engines at any car club event, why do we want F1 to sound like that?

    • Andrew

      It’s 145 decibels vs 134, on a logarithmic scale, the V8s were A LOT louder.

  • PM

    Also is it just me, or does anyone else find it slightly disturbing that we have more of an uproar over the lack of noise than for double points?

  • Andrew

    I refuse to believe anyone with a soul who has witnessed the drama of the 145 decibel V8s in person would prefer these anaemic Dyson impersonators. I was going to take my old man to Silverstone but the hairs on the back of your neck sound is just not there.

    But it’s ok guys, it’s “relevant” just like other sports like soccer is “relevant” by using an environmentally friendly ball (not) or hockey is “relevant” by…. you get the point.

    • I agree with you Andrew. At the Melbourne event they had a speed comparison with a 2011 Red Bull, an Aussie V8 Supercar and a road car. There was absolutely no contest as to the rise from the crowd when the old F1 car went past as oppose to this year’s one. I guess we’ll have to see if Force India’s boss is right & that we’ll be seeing empty stands before too long

  • ladyH

    I try not to be stubborn about changes,I hope to be open minded and give change a fair chance. In this case F1 cars are supposed to be the most amazing advances in technology, with equipment you simply would never see elsewhere. The speed should be magical, the technology unbelievable. So, from that point, the fact that cars can still race on a lot less fuel and save so much energy, creating extra speed is a bit amazing, but not much, as these are ideas that have been put into practice before by racers and road manufacturers. The designs have been stifled and I see more exciting technology in a new dyson vacuum cleaner than allowed in F1 these days. Poor Adrian Newey must feel frustrated with the lack of opportunities in design freedom.
    Having said that, the noise is poor. I hate the whistles and believe I would get tired of this fairly quickly if I went to the track. The volume is something I’m not decided on, but I do know, if I went to a live concert and could hear the crowd better than the band, I would want my money back. I also know, when I go to military airshows I love the noise and would never enjoy this the same if there was no afterburner rumble. I would hate the cinema if I couldn’t breath loudly as the volume was turned down too much. From this point of view, I suspect I would miss the F1 engine very much. I know that in previous every time I walked to the track and heard the engines roar like hundreds of angry dinasaurs I got so excited and looked at the smiles of all my friends.
    The noise created anticipation when I couldn’t see the cars, and let’s be honest, at the track, you don’t get to see them all of the time. I’m not saying the sound is the be all and end all of F1, but I do know that the sound was unbelievable and I definitely wanted more. I’m not sure I would feel the same today.