Merc to test ‘megaphone’ to improve ‘noise’

If you were nonplussed by the new sound of Formula 1 cars, then this weekend could be a step in the right direction. Mercedes will test a new exhaust apparatus in this week’s post-Spanish Grand Prix test.

The new device, according to AUTOSPORT, will act as a sort of megaphone to amplify the sound of the exhaust note. Yes, the article and comments are predictably using the word “noise”. The undertow of the F1 pundits and press is not lost on me. I’ve mentioned this before but in the past, most F1 pundits and fans referred to the “sound” of F1 cars and the backlash from this year’s V6 Turbo hybrid has been due to the lack of a familiar or desirable sound such as the days of yore with V12’s, V10’s or even V8’s.

Very quietly and calculatingly, press reports, team bosses and proponents of the new power unit format dropped the word “sound” in favor of the word “noise”. Let’s look at some synonyms in order to understand why this bothers me so much:


noise, din, racket, uproar, pandemonium, hullabaloo, hubbub, clamor, babel


refers to something heard. Sound,  however, is more general in application, being used for anything within earshot: the sound of running water. Noise,  caused by irregular vibrations, is more properly applied to a loud, discordant, or unpleasant sound: the noise of shouting.

Yes, I am making a mountain out of a molehill but this does bug me quite a bit for the very reason that the “sound” of an F1 car is a large part of its appeal to many F1 fans and most of those fans would not use the word “noise” while telling their friends about how incredible the sound of the amazing V12, V10 or V8 is. When asked about their first experience at an F1 race, fans would say they had no idea how massive the sound of these machines are.

When the new format lacked all of that visceral experience, the exhaust and engine note of the cars has been reduced to just “noise”. Some unwanted, discordant side effect of the series. I find the use of terms has become important in this day and age and it is important to know what words mean and why they are chosen.

The test:

The test will be conducted by Mercedes and monitored by the FIA as a possible solution for changes to be implemented later this year. The system has been used in dyno testing and the results are said to be very positive…and that, actually, does sound like a lot of noise.

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