Former Formula 1 driver and 2001 championship runner-up David Coulthard has become the latest personality in the sport to criticize the new sound of the V6 engines, which were introduced for the 2014 season.
Having downsized from V8s in 2013, the new hybrid ‘power unit’ is intended to aid the sport’s environmental credentials, but the big gripe that many fans and figures within Formula 1 have had is that they lack the screeching sound of the old engines.
In his “DC Insights” blog for banking group UBS, Coulthard expressed his concerns about the new formula.
“My ear drums will probably not thank me for saying this but I agree with Bernie Ecclestone, I think the new generation of cars could do with being a bit noisier,” he said. “Even from my soundproofed commentary booth, I could tell it lacked a little va-va-voom in the volume department.
“Formula 1 doesn’t strictly need that high-pitched banshee scream produced by the old V10s, and to a lesser extent the V8s, but ear-splitting noise is part and parcel of the sport.
“Just as you expect your whole body to shake when a fighter jet passes overhead, so you expect your senses to be assaulted by a Formula 1 car. Try standing in the tunnel in Monaco when a V10 engine screams past and you will understand what I mean. It is a visceral experience.”
The Scotsman went on to explain how the sound is something that the engineers can alter on the power units, and encouraged them to do so in the near future in order to stop the backlash that is currently being felt in Formula 1.
“It is not beyond the wit of Formula 1 engineers to amplify the noise a bit,” Coulthard said. “Musical instruments make enough of a racket with wind blowing through them relatively slowly. A Formula 1 car expels its exhaust gases at over 1000mph. It might add a bit of weight to the overall package but I think it would be well worth it to recover a vital element of the F1 experience.
“Don’t take my word for it, though. Listen to the reaction from the fans. That is one thing that is coming through extremely loud and clear. We cannot afford to ignore our fans.”
As a veteran of 247 grands prix, Coulthard is one of the most experienced drivers in the history of the sport. However, given that we are just one race in to the new engine era, it is perhaps with caution that such comments should be made.