F1 engine technology could hinder efforts to improve sound

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As the concerns about the new sound of Formula 1 continue to dominate the headlines, some of those involved with the development of the new turbocharged V6 engines have said that there is only so much that they can do to improve their volume.

A number of leading figures in the sport have raised worries about its image now that the definitive screeching sound of the V8 engines has been lost. Although the 2014 power units are certainly quieter than their predecessors, they are by no means silent, and we are also now able to hear cars locking up under braking.

Bernie Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo met for talks in Bahrain, and agreed that steps should be taken to improve the engine sound. However, speaking in the FIA technical press conference today in China, Renault’s Rob White and Ferrari’s Pat Fry said that this may not be such a cut and dry solution.

“The noise of the current engine is a consequence of the overall layout, the architecture and so forth,” White explained. “I think the scope to fundamentally and profoundly alter the noise of the engines is extremely limited by the type of technology that we have deployed.

“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.”

Fry revealed that the technical heads of each team were meeting in China to discuss what steps – if any – can be taken.

“You’ve got the turbo there to try and take all the energy that we can out, so it’s always going to be quieter,” he said. “There’s a round of meetings starting today, in fact, that will discuss and try and work out how to improve the situation.”

The great engine debate appears to be a rather subjective matter. As Formula 1 takes the hybrid route, a change in the sound is inevitable. It is hard to find a balance that will please all parties.

Just as the V8s were criticized when they replaced V10s back in 2006, it might just be a case of us all getting used to the new sound.