Skip to content

Bernie Ecclestone on the case for more noise from new F1 cars

Mar 18, 2014, 4:35 PM EDT


After Australian Grand Prix organizers issued complaints about the quieter sound of the new V6-powered Formula One cars, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is hunting for ways to put the noise back into the World Championship.

Tom Cary of the UK’s Telegraph newspaper quotes the 83-year-old Ecclestone as saying that “we can’t wait all season” to find a solution to making the greener machines sound “more like racing cars.”

Ecclestone disclosed that he has been talking with FIA president Jean Todt on the matter and that he has received complaints from promoters.

“I don’t know whether it’s possible [to make modifications,] but we should investigate,” he added. “I think, let’s get the first few races out of the way and then maybe look to do something.

“We can’t wait all season. It could be too late by then.”

Yesterday, Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott went on a national radio network to discuss how, from his perspective, the quieter cars took away from the atmosphere last weekend in Melbourne.

Additionally, he mentioned that said cars may have also incurred a breach of contract between the race organizers and Formula One management.

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

The Telegraph story adds new quotes from AGPC Chairman Ron Walker, who says that the loudest noise at Albert Park didn’t come from the F1 cars but from the V10-powered two-seater from former Minardi owner Paul Stoddart.

“If you sat in the grandstand, you could hardly hear [the F1 cars] coming down the straight,” Walker claimed.

The throaty growl of the V6 motors, which are at the forefront of the technical revolution that has swept into F1 this season, has been met with mixed response from followers.

Force India team owner Vijay Mallya was caught proclaiming “the noise of Formula One has gone” on the world feed broadcast, but three-time World Champion and Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda has said that it wouldn’t make financial sense to alter the engines for the sake of more noise.

  1. indycarseries500 - Mar 18, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Well you could take the Turbos off, they will sound like crap and be slow but they’ll be loud.

    The cars sound fine not unpleasant whatsoever, the only reason a good number of people hate it is because it’s different and not ear bleed infusing loud. Give it six months and it’ll be the most glorious sound in the world, the same thing happened in 2006 with the V8s.

  2. testover6370 - Mar 18, 2014 at 7:49 PM

    I too dislike the sound of the new F1 engines, but people are making this out to mean that they cannot enjoy F1 at all now. The noise was exciting, but it wasn’t really the point of F1. If you lose interest just because of the sound, you’re missing the point.

  3. worknman24hours - Mar 18, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    Indy and Test above are right on the money.

    Also,the point was also made that the tv producers need to be really careful where they put the mics on track and in the pits.

    I’m sure the in car inside the cars isn’t silent either.

    I’m looking for great big megaphone exhaust ends to be placed on the cars.

    Formula One can find them all day long at Pep Boys.

    They just go on with one screw.

    They’re right next to the big,fuzzy dice and the plastic hub caps.

  4. worknman24hours - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    O.K., all jokes aside, if you want the motors louder, you need to spin them faster-say run that limiter up to 19,500 rpm.

    Take the turbo assist motor out of the cars.

    The engines are loafing now with all the help the electric engines give them down low.

    This would require the FIA to probably run 150 sized metered fuel units instead of 100.

    The motors would then likely sound like weedwackers on crack.

    What a mess this would make of the season though-just to make the cars louder.

    Realistically, we are now at a point where the audio engineers will need to step in and help make the cars louder by artificial means if the sport really wants things louder.

    Frankly, I think trashing a great Formula that is really looking like it’s going to work itself out in the next three races and be really great is kind of sad.

    Panic -is the word that comes to mind.

    Plus, think of the massive investment in the cars the teams have made.

    Let’s just wait and see what happens in the next few races.

    I mean look, you can always put air powered screamers on the front of the cars if you want the crowds to hear the cars coming.

    They could be team specific but I’ll tell you now, nobody in the pits or in the cars would like them one bit.

    Finally, you can sneak up on a guy and pass him without the entire world knowing you are coming.

    Let’s have a little patience.

  5. keeper1st - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:15 AM

    Racing is about competition — not how loud the engines are! The new cars sound fine. They are quieter, but that means that we can hear the tires squeal when they lock up, which is something we couldn’t hear before, so that’s interesting.

  6. Jeff - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:55 AM

    Yeah, I’m not really concerned about sound. I’m more concerned that these new F1 cars are an abomination to aesthetics and my eyes. These new F1 cars are easily the ugliest open-wheel race cars I’ve seen in my lifetime.

    • crunge4461 - Mar 19, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      The silver lining of the car designs though is that this is the first time in probably 20 years where every single car has a visibly unique design. I understand that there are always little difference, but now any person can look and see wildly different interpretations in front of their eyes. I think that is good. The Mercedes, Red Bull, and Williams I feel are good looking cars, and the Mercedes is a great looking machine, I think the Mercedes is one of the best looking Gp cars in a while.

    • indycarseries500 - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      I think they look much better than they did from 2010-2013.

  7. mcseforsale - Mar 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    NBC needs to place the mics in the braking zones and in the heavy shift zones…that will allow us to hear the turbo hardware working (i.e. blow-off valves, unspent fuel popping, etc). Having been to a GP in 2001 in Canada with the V10s, I’ll assure those who’ve never heard it that it is oppressive and dangerous. I was able to listen to about 2 laps without earplugs. Without, it felt like the pressure of the noise would actually cause physical damage. I’d like to hear from some who actually witnessed the 80s turbo cars on how loud they were. I bet these sound a little quieter, but much the same.

    • crunge4461 - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:05 PM

      I never attended in the 1980s when they were running turbos, but I watched all of those races on TV. Remember during the 1980s turbo era, there were turbos and NA cars running together, which frankly for a period of about 4 years made for amazing competition with two NA champions and two turbo champs. Even in the final year of the turbo era (I think 1987) after the teams had really gotten turbo reliability down and were much faster, there were still smaller teams like Tyrell that were running NA V-8s and they were slower and considered an unofficial second tier championship by drivers, teams, and Murray Walker! This is the first time that there has been a complete uniformity in terms of turbos throughout the grid. The V-8 era was the beginning of the uniformity era and having been watching F1 for many years it is this, not the sound, that bothers me. I have zero problem with the sound of the turbos, the problem that I have is that the powertrain is completely dictated to the teams by the authority. I would like to see F1 enact a stringent spending cap, something tight and tough, and allow the teams and engine produces do whatever they like in terms of aero and engine. I think too much is being mandated today, let there be wider interpretations and then sounds and styles will naturally vary.

  8. worknman24hours - Mar 21, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    The source of the noise in all of racing is engine compression times cylinders and engine revs and a high level of fuel being forced into the engines under those conditions.

    Fuel flow matters here as far as noise goes..

    Once you start lowering the max fuel allowed to be forced into the engines at one time, lowering the engine revs AND altering the load placed on the engine at low revs, you’ll get the less noise we see today.

    It’s a fundamental aspect of the technology we are using on Formula One today.

    Many of us all remember the astonishing demonically beautiful noise that the 12 cylinders and crazy 10 cylinders gave the sport.

    The crazy turbo era also had an enormous sound level because of the totally unlimited aspect of the fuel allowed to be forced down the throats of the engines at one time.

    As far as fuel flow goes, the turbo era HAD to be the king of all fuel flow eras.

    The irony here is that the sound was modified because that sound came modified by the turbo vanes spinning in the many tens of thousands as they forced the fuel into the engines.

    Those old turbos also made the exhaust note more of a staccato steady sound as those motors got fuel rammed down them at an alarming rate unlike a normally aspirated engine.

    The sound that the 12 cylinders gave us was arrived at because we got to clearly hear every cylinder grab for all the fuel those magnificient engines used-right back through those marvelous intake throats and that sound departed from astonishingly beautiful built exhaust systems that had zero things in the way of either stopping or modifying the exhaust sound that was roaring out of them

    Now, we have a series of things in the intake and the exhaust that not only modify and lessen the sound coming from the cylinders to the intake but also do the same to the sound coming from the exhaust too.

    Unlike the unlimited golden age of exploding turbo engines where fuel was blasted into the engine in a blatantly inefficient way with as much fuel as could be jammed down them, these new engines use fuel in an exacting and computer controlled way.

    Not only that, in the lower revs ranges the engine is assisted and the turbo as well is helped by the electric hybrid systems that help those engines use even less fuel to accelerate.

    That’s a major part of why there is so much less noise.

    The load on the engine is down, the fuel used to accelerate is down and the sound coming from the engine is muted by all the things in the intake and exhausts systems.

    This will not change with the current technology and it should not be either.

    If the sport wants more sound presence then the sport needs to begin to formulate an assisted sound system to make the cars more recognizable by the fans at track side and the fans watching on tv.

    This is a new problem but not a unsolvable one.

    The intakes could simply be legislated to be open (instead of designed to be ram air systems) at the front of the cars just behind the drivers heads so the sound coming out of them is much louder.

    The exhausts could be legislated to exit at the top back of the cars with a slight megaphone on each exhaust end that acts as a sound resonator.

    Each team could present a modification to each of their cars with the aim of increasing the decibel level and sound quality for the consideration and enjoyment of the fans.

    Just don’t get all uppity and angry if those mods also help the performance of the cars in some way.

    But let’s wait before we go jumping into the assisted sound era of Formula One.

    The darn season just started for Christ sakes.

    If passive sound assist does come to pass and a no ram air mod era comes to pass, then each team will need to be forced to abandon any intake design that includes the speed of the car ramming air down the intakes.

    We can petition the teams to do the sound assisted thing and present options for each of their cars but the primary thing right now is that there are races for each team to win.

    Nothing can be allowed to stand in the way of that.

  9. spa67 - Mar 22, 2014 at 10:36 PM


    anyone ever consider that noise is wasted energy?

    These cars, with their greater torque requiring more “touch” with the right foot, will create more chances for the driver errors that make top-flight motorsport interesting. I want F1 to be about the fastest and most difficult cars to drive in the world. Given the choice I’d rip off the wings, double the HP and do what ever is necessary to keep the drivers as safe as they are today. I’ll take this as a first step in the right direction.

  10. worknman24hours - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:33 AM

    Noise communicates what the drivers are doing in their race cars to the fans.

    That changes and the fans are simply watching cars on the interstate and they can do that for free-with more noise with more character per car passing by.

    The season has just started so I expect the character of the reporting of the noise to change greatly.

    And there is so much more going on then just noise too.

    Should be a fun season to watch Formula One.

  11. worknman24hours - Mar 24, 2014 at 12:38 AM

    If you want chills to run down your spine, watch the video where Honda commissioned a crew to put speakers around a track and replay the sound of Ayrton Senna driving his Honda powered McLaren race car around that track.

    It was tough for me to listen to because I was a great fan of the man but it was a great tribute to Ayrton too.

    No Formula One driver has ever had such a tribute done for him.

    Soon 20 years gone-Salute, Ayrton.

  12. manik56 - Mar 25, 2014 at 7:03 PM

    Breach of contract? That will take some creative lawyering. Usually the tracks are forced to quiet the cars. This one is complaining about not enough noise. That promoter should be embarrassed those words came out of his mouth.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!