There has been many things said regarding the noise of the Formula 1 engine. I was at Albert Park over the weekend and I could not believe the amount of people complaining about how they have been cheated out of their money and how the cars have become a joke of the motor sport world.

I have spoken to many long term Formula 1 fans since Sunday’s race and the backlash is over whelming. Many fans saying that the sport has now become too controlled for manufactures and not having the thought of the fans at heart.

“We are all up for being green as that is what the world is about these day’s, we all recycle and try and look after our planet but when it comes to sport no matter what it is, we want it loud, fast and hard” said one die-hard fan. “We don’t get to see our hero’s when they are driving but we get to hear them, when the engine noise is low they just seem like whimps tip toeing around the men”.

There have been many rule changes over the past decade and hard-core F1 fan can recognize the changes while some fans may not. However as humans we all react to noise, it can make us happy or sad, excited or calm. Loud means fast and quiet means slow it is a natural reaction we all have.

As Formula 1 fans we are consumers of the product. If it is not to the fans standard they won’t buy it. Fans will not go to races, will not buy merchandise, will not book in their time on a Sunday to watch the race, will not see the commercials on TV, will not down load the F1 App and so on.

In an earlier post by Negative Camber, McLaren race director Eric Boullier said that the series changed to the new power unit to make itself more appealing and compliant to where the industry is going.

But which way are the fans going??


Hi, I have been a Formula 1 fanatic since 1987 when my family took me to the Adelaide GP. I now enjoy close friendships with team members at Ferrari and within the Holden Racing Team (V8Supercars).
  • Please learn how to spell before you write. For those of us who read it’s as if you’re playing an instrument out of tune.

    • Michael in Seattle

      Civility. Decorum. Please. Thank you.

      • Tim C

        +1 on the civility and decorum.

        • Rapierman

          ….and another +1 on the decorum and civility. Back the attitude down a notch, Kerry. I might be a old Grammar/Speller Nazi, but I don’t always show it, and especially in the manner you’ve chosen. Thanks. ;-)

    • Yes, I agree smelling correctly is impotent.

      • jeff


        Does anyone else have problems w/ the auto correct, or is it just me? Knocking it is all in jest, but c’mon F1B, I’m bad enough w/ grammar/spelling/punctuation. :)

        • wchrisg

          WordPress or sites in general don’t run the autocorrect.
          It is your Operating system or your browser.

  • jeff

    Ouch. To be fair Kerry, the auto-correct spelling function on this site is suspect; I’d bet the contributors have a similar crappy program. Or, they may just be poor editors and/or not proofread, like me. :)

    To the topic; I think those who praise or moan are a vocal minority; like most polls or statistical analysis, those that want to be heard have an agenda, whether personal or revolutionary. Most participants, or in this case consumers, of a topic are passive. In addition, poll/statistical analysis results are easily skewed upon how a question’s asked or what cross section of the demo’s being sampled.

    The TV audience results of 2013 are a great example; outlets reported a decreasing global audience, setting fear mongers giddy about F1’s demise, whilst others trumped the US’ overall viewership gains. Both the UK and French television, 2 large audience groups for F1, switched to a pay-TV model, whilst the US coverage switched from an obscure network unsupported by many expanded cable packages to a major network’s subsidiary. Naturally, audience figures were going to fluctuate. Now, whether those who chose not to pay for broadcast rights supported F1 revenues in other ways, or those who became aware of F1 via NBC coverage continue their interest, I don’t know.

    I’d agree that it seems a majority prefer the older engines’ sound, and an even larger majority would prefer more volume than the current formula offers.

    F1’s reasons/excuses for introducing it, “Green” awareness and road relevancy, don’t resonate with me, but advancing the tech level and, shallowly, “improving the show” I welcome. The most advanced open-wheel racing series running port injected, naturally aspirated engines that’ve been stagnant development-wise for 5 years? Particularly when, LeMans for example, is experimenting w/ current and cutting-edge technologies for their cars? My 2 road cars have 1.) a direct injected engine w/ variable induction and cam timing 2.) a twin scroll turbo charger w/ variable geometry turbine. F1 needed changing, at least for those who like the technological wizardry of GP racing.

    As many have said before and with which I agree, the new Formula is too restrictive regarding componentry and layout but, playing Devil’s Advocate, I can understand how FIA was concerned about regulating development, parity, and cost overruns. Penny-wise/Pound-foolish, but when at the heel of investors, courting potential manufacturers’ entry, and balancing teams’ desires, it must be a daunting job.

    I’m not apologizing for FIA’s shortcomings, but am trying to sympathize w/ the thoughts behind decisions I dislike. It’s an organization that, like general television networks here in the US, is struggling to adapt to a new-media world in which the balance between catering to the “middle-America masses” (a term from HBO) or the niche savants is difficult to find. Some may leave the sport because it’s no longer as audibly visceral and too regulated. Some may find it better it’s more relatable to current generation road cars (in message if not reality).

    For me, I’m on board; the Aus GP, never the most exciting venue, was the most entertaining that I can remember. I’m so excited about the changes that I’ve begun posting on a website after years of being only a consumer.

  • IMO, F1 is going in the wrong direction… fans want loud, fast and pushing to the extreme limits.. F1 is in the entertainment business, it’s our Hollywood for us crazy racing fans.. If Hollywood movie’s were all censored up with no more smoking, swearing, nudity or graphic scenes, it would be considered boring day time TV and no one would go to the movies anymore.. We go to the movies for the raw effects, openness, liberty and to dream and envy!!! F1 has gone from being the pinnacle of motor racing (Movie) to daytime censored TV (F1 Now)
    F1 will not survive if it tries to please all of the tree huggers!!

    • dude

      I didn’t get that message that I can’t hug trees and like F1 at the sametime. I guess its one or the other.

    • Formula Future

      I totally agree with you. Unfortunately F1 has bacome a science experiment, that to be honest can be useful for normal cars application, but the sport is ruined. Who wants to see world champions racing for 20 laps and then cruising around for the remaining of the race?
      It’s like FIFA would limit the number of times a footbsll player can kick the ball in a match. Public reaction would produce thumbs down. FIA is too blind.

  • CT

    A couple of my feelings on the engine noise issue.
    I believe this idea that “everybody” feels the engines are going to ruin F1 is way overblown. I believe Sky did a poll and 74% liked the new PUs. The detractors are loud right now, while those who like the new PUs are not. Make it seems like “everyone” hates the new PUs.
    In my opinion, the idea that F1 will wither and die because the PUs are too quiet is an extremely shallow idea of what F1 is all about. Sure noisy PUs are cool, but so is the ability of a car to run relatively similar lap times (experts are predicting lap times will be close to prior pace by the end of the season), use at least ⅓ less fuel (same experts are predicting the teams may not even need 100 kgs of fuel per race by the end of the season), the ability of fans to actually hear something other than the engines and actually having these world class drivers having to drive. Prior to this season, fans were lamenting the “pay drivers” and the fact they were ruining the sport. No doubt they were. Well, with the new PUs and the need for real driver skill, these pay drivers are going to be driven out of the sport. Meanwhile large auto-makers, such as Honda next year, are likely to be drawn back to F1, because the new PUs are more road car relevant. This will bring money back to the sport and eliminate the need for drivers buying seats.

    F1 is about so much more than noise. Its about tip of the spear technology and innovation; this is what we are going to see this season and into the future. The noisy and according to Martin Brundle, gutless V8s (read his Oz GP recap on, were archaic. The lack of development potential and the uber-reliability made engines a non-issue. What was the point of having individual engine manufacturers? Every part of F1 needs to be a potential area of developmental gain. For the past few seasons, it was all aero, nothing else mattered and nothing else was developed. This is all changed this year; F1 is once again the foremost multi-faceted conglomeration of driving skill, mechanical performance and engineering. I love it, and “true” F1 fans are going to love it as well.

    • Krunksoft

      Thank you for that. So well said. If you guys want to know the technical reasons behind the sound here’s something a guy posted on another site that explains it all:

      “They are quieter due to several technical reasons.
      1. Wastegates, used on old F1 cars, would dump raw (ie loud) exhaust upstream of the turbo to control boost. The new engines are either not fitted with them or only used as a backup system. The MGU-H is used to manage turbine speed, so all exhaust gases now pass through the turbo.
      2. The new dual entry turbos are very efficient at extracting/converting available energy from the exhaust stream. Loud exhausts are loud due to the energetic shock waves being dumped into the atmosphere. Extract that energy with a turbo and you convert that high frequency noise to rotational and then electrical energy.
      In the case of a road car, the muffler converts the noise etc into heat.
      Personally I do like the sound of the turbos being spooled up by the MGU-H during downshifts. I also noticed the cars sound a lot better when the rev them to 15k, but sadly it looks like they don’t do that very often, if at all. Especially Renault. Probably to save fuel. Might be time to dump the mass flow limit and just have a 100kg race limit to encourage using full power/revs out of corners etc. Nothing like a bit of opposite lock!!”

  • Schmorbraten

    You could buy a hearing aid and crank it up to maximum volume. The rest of the trackside fans can finally enjoy F1 without incurring a hearing impairment.

  • lotusdriver

    The new engine formula will help entice manufactures to F1. Yeah, they don’t sound too grand, but the competition will be better in a couple of years. The sound of the cars sounds like the ” frogs farting in tall grass” which was the description of the turbo 80’s,but the competition was great! Remember BMW 1500 cc cars had 1100 hp in race trim and 1300Hp in qualifying…..

  • Agree with Adam 100%, spot on. What attracted me to F1 was NOT fuel mileage, quiet, & Green. If that’s your interests then maybe join the local Prius & Volt rally teams and enjoy the “new” technology. It’s much less expensive and you can get your rush from knowing the good deed you did for the environment while bench racing, and talking at a normal living room volume level. What makes the hair stand up on my arms and rush to the fence, it’s the NOISE of those screaming cars coming from a half mile away. It’s feeling it, smelling it and being entrenched in it, the whole experience. C’mon people, 70% is NOT just a few disheartened complainers or skewed survey results. Even it if was 50% that’s half your customer base, wake up.

    • jeff

      Hi Mike, regarding poll/survey, I believe the F1B’s pole should 70% disapproval. David Croft of SkyF1 should 75% approval. As mentioned in my response, I don’t think either’s an accurate cross section of the entire F1 fan base; rather, it just shows such results can be used for any agenda.

  • mini696

    I think the “noise” complaint is so overrated.
    I enjoy hearing the crowd, the squeeling tyres, the radio chatter etc.

  • julian

    I think the noise is just a sideshow. I want to see great cars, great drivers, great racing. Whether I have to wear earplugs to avoid hearing damage or not isn’t that important. On the TV it really doesn’t make much difference.
    I am more interested in how the drivers and engineers are having their skills challenged by these new cars, let’s talk about that

  • AnklaX

    The new tech may be great. it may be interesting to find the cars doing similar lap times with smaller engines and less fuel but these information is known to regular viewers. But F1 wants to reach out to so many people, that most people who will watch a race are unaware of the technical rules or even have any understanding or realization of the importance of the new tech. so when these people watch F1, they wont have the impressive sound that F1 had before to hold a new viewer curiously to the TV screen. That therapeutic loud sound did a lot for F1 so far. It will be difficult to attract new audience with the current formula.

  • Formula Future

    I followed F1 since 1982 and hardly missed a race.
    Now I stop, as said a real race is what I want to see and 2014 just sucks.
    Waiting for the return of real F1 or for the creation of a new formula.

  • F1mad

    Um there is nothing wrong with the spelling!! What are all you fools on about? If you didn’t see a problem with the cars last weekend well clearly you were not at the race and you were unfortunately watching it from your TV. I have never missed a race in Australia and last weekend it was an embaressment to the sport. You dont pay big dollars to wear a hearing aid you idiot. You go to a motor race for the loud engines and experience. Well done Adam Vella on yet another great article. Very well writen and as someone who was also at the race I completely agree with you. For the rest of you.. until you attend one of the races this year.. zip it.

  • adam vella

    Well said F1MAD! I have been going to the Aust GP since 1988 when I was 6 yrs old and was hooked ever since. The noise is what captivates somebody and the technicality keeps you interested. I look forward to hearing responses once it gets back to Europe. I think opinions are going to change based on people’s reaction from Melbourne. Or do Aussies have no idea?

  • Anna

    I was at the Melbourne Grand Prix and I can tell you the cars sounded like sewing machines coming down the main straight. Wait until the crowd at the next few races hear them in person and the complaints continue. The fans will vote with their ticket buying money and if nothing changes the sport is going to suffer as it is.

    V12 and V10 engine noise was what F1 was all about. Driving to the limit and beyond. This is not Formula 1.

  • F1mad

    Exactly!! Anyone who has been or goes to future races and can honestly still say they like the sound of the cars.. well they cannot be true F1 fans. Im with Adam and Anna all the way and this is coming from fans who have followed F1 for a VERY long time.

    • Tom

      Sorry, but that sounds mightily elitist to me. Who are you to tell me how serious an F1 fan I am? By the same token, I could argue that those who bicker about the sound cannot possibly be “true” F1 fans, because they care more about something incidental (sound) than about the core of F1 (racing). Could it be that Bernie is right and the show (which includes the sound) IS more important than the sport after all?

      Luckily, I don’t argue that way. If you follow F1, I’m not going to question your motives.

    • F1derbar

      Simply the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever read on this site. It seems as though you are a ‘fan’ of tinnitus, of RedBull, of Riccardo or all three. Sour grapes make no sound at all. NHRA is still super-loud and I understand they need some new fans.

      • F1derbar

        (my comment lacked civility and decorum; apologies to NHRA fans)

  • When Bernie speaks, everyone listens. He stated before the race he had concerns about the “sound” factor. That speaks volumes right there, and as it turns out he was absolutely correct. People can say the surveys are skewed all they want but let’s say that 70% is really 50% or 40%, that still IS a significant issue that cannot be brushed aside by saying it’s a few habitual complainers who won’t like it no matter what. I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone complain they were too loud or just don’t sound good. The common phrase “they are at full song” has turned into “they can’t carry a tune” scenario. Humans are equipped with sensory tools that can govern our thoughts & feelings…auditory sense is one of the key one’s. I can guarantee you taking away the sound from an NHRA race would result in more empty seats, NO question about it.

    ALL racing venues are struggling for market share because of instant access to about any sporting event without actually being there. Today there are a multitude of options that the population can select their entertainment from, we receive instant news, live feeds on our Smart phones, computers, etc. To brush sound off as an incidental is like saying the looks are incidental, or the drivers are incidental because of automated chassis adjustments…continue looking through your clouded vision, it’s crystal clear the sound factor IS a huge part of what F1 is and has been about.

    Not everyone is buying into the electric car, quiet is better for our wellbeing, etc. I agree, some “green” initiatives are good but let’s not force our beloved F1 into a “green” conservation poster child and tell us we’re better off going taking this path. There’s a place for the completely silent, sun & wind powered, recycled parts, flower scented vehicles but please don’t let it be F1.

    • jeff

      I find it odd Bernie’s making these comments currently; as we know, market-value’s a fabrication, ultimately based upon inklings of a financially-powerful few who financial movers trend an industry. In other words, it’s all about perception. As it’s reported he’s looking at selling his F1 interest, it’s surprising he’d devalue his investment this way.

      No matter which side of the debate, there’s no doubt F1’s new sound is a talking point w/ many; why fan the flames?

      As you point out, perhaps Bernie truly is indignant over the sound, an F1 “purist” or “romanticist” or whatever fan value descriptor one wishes. On the other hand, to me it’s clear little in F1, and little out of Bernie’s mouth regarding F1, is said or done w/o ulterior motive.

      I’ve long thought Bernie balked against the ’14 regulation changes due to lost CVC revenue, both in development costs and increased revenue-sharing demands. Now that the cars are on track, he’s worried about the low volume on the TV (Bernie CVC could care less who attends a race; it’s all about televised rights). So, if he’s expecting FIA will somehow make a change and add microphones to the cars, maybe he’s laying the found work. As we’ve mentioned in other posts, however, it’s likely impossible FIA can/will make fundamental changes that’ll significantly change the sound issue; so I’m honestly at a loss what Bernie’s goals are.

      I could be wrong about it motivations, and this could be 1.) Bernie the racer rallying against something he dislikes, 2.) Deflecting attention from his upcoming civil case, or 3.) a bout of mouth diarrhea (Danica and appliances is still surprising).

      What an interesting guy.

      • jeff

        Man, I need to watch my Apple/Safari auto correct. Grammar punctuation’s bad enough w/o making it worse.

        For clarity, 1st sentence should read :

        market-value’s a fabrication, ultimately based upon inklings of a financially-powerful few whose fiscal moves trend an industry

  • Rapierman

    I think the general consensus here is that Formula 1 is many things, and they’re all an integral part of the sport. To take any part of it away is to change it, and there aren’t many people who like change. All these things are what the mind of a fan expects it to be. There will be uproar, no question about it. Some people like to say, “if you change anything, then it isn’t cricket” (though I prefer that statement on an envelope: “Do not fold, spindle or mutilate”).

  • gsprings

    i guess i am one of those who care more about the racing on the track 1st,but i can understand the sound thing,but it seem to me like something that can be fixed with tweaks to the exhaust pipes on the cars,bigger exhaust pipes?

  • Danielgoodyear

    Noise is unwanted sound, you guys said it yourselves.Prepare yourself for one of the most exciting teamate battles of all time. This goes back to the old racing days we all enjoyed. Embrace it!!

  • Bill

    F1 will do what their 2014 revenues dictate.. It’s not about the sport or the fans. It’s always the money.. They lost me with these new 6 cyl. Engines that sound like diesel lawn mowers… The technology has overwhelmed the sport.. The thrill is gone! Motorcycle racing, has not yet waved the white flag to the greenies and warmers… I’ll watch and hope that F1 comes to its senses and we see some 12 cyl. 20k rpm machines that will bring this once great venue back from the brink to the ultimate racing we once witnessed…

  • Bill

    Perhaps a better understanding of what a lot of people are trying to explain…
    I went to an AC DC concert to hear Highway to Hell and Captain and Toenail came out and sang Muskrat Love..
    The sound is a big part of the thrill.. ! These almost racing machines we witnessed will kill the sport … I’m sure the seasoned drivers were saying WTF is that thing… !! Well, that’s what I said anyway…

  • Amen Bill, preach it brother! Good analogy…it’s like going to a rock concert with all the hype & excitement, the band comes on, fans are cheering, then the electricity goes out, and no amps.

  • Tom

    BTW, does anyone remember these days:

    I think change is always a challenge for people as we simply don’t like it.

  • lenny

    Lets just say that next years Aussie GP is going to be flop in terms of ticket sales.

  • 2014 is now a joke, I will return for a look in 2015