More ‘noise’ about F1 engines in 2016

Share This Post

I’m most likely the wrong person to comment on this topic but reading Sky Sport F1’s article today about the FIA’s desire to increase engine “noise” for 2016 has me less than excited.

I know that Formula 1 fans haven’t been happy about the lack of sound pressure levels from the cars since 2014 and you can count me as one of them but at some level, while I would like F1 cars to sound like F1 cars should, I am more concerned over the manufactures still driving hard for a power unit that is two to three times as expensive and the regulations that have frozen development locking in a lack of any chance to reach parity among rivals.

‘For 2016, all cars must have a separate exhaust wastegate tailpipe through which all and only wastegate exhaust gases must pass,” a statement read.

‘This measure has been undertaken to increase the noise of the cars and will not have any significant effect on power or emissions.’

I refuse to cover the engine story by using the term “noise” because quite honestly it isn’t the “noise” of the F1 car that has us upset, it’s the missing sound of an F1 car. I’ve parsed this word numerous times before but a cursory search showed me that in the past, the cars had a sound, only recently when fans complained about the new power units did we see the pervasive use of the term “noise” to instill a sense of negativity around the historic sound of a F1 car and how the new regulations are much more pleasing.

I applaud the FIA, don’t get me wrong here, but I feel like we’re making small, almost patronizing moves, toward a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Now, the FIA are full of very sharp people and I do not want to marginalize these efforts because any changes to the exhaust of the current power unit design could have an impact to performance as teams have harvested every last psi of output from their turbos to harvest energy. That’s the super cool part of these amazingly high-tech engines.

Is it possible that the changes could shake things up a bit on the grid for 2016? We’ll have to wait and see what the reactions from Mercedes is to get a feel for how they think this change will impact them.

Hat Tip: Sky Sports F1’s Mr. Galloway


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


The loudest power unit currently in F1 is the Honda. I don’t think that many people would argue that it is what they want F1 to sound like.


I agree the Honda Power Unit does sound the best but it is fairly useless currently.

Will Irwin

I don’t know about loudest but from standing trackside at Singapore I thought the Honda lump sounded awful. All the other engines, even though not loud, at least had some resonance to the engine note but the Honda just sounded flatulent, especially on the over-run or off throttle. No idea if this is related to their power deficit or general lack of reliability.

I had the impression that it was worse on the Friday practice sessions than on Saturday-Sunday so maybe they changed something.


I think the Honda sounds better when they can use the ERS fully. This doesn’t seem to be allowed on Fridays, and only on qualifying laps on Saturdays, for the race it is used until it breaks. Hopefully the unit will be developed over the winter to allow the ERS to be used fully.

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

So I have a question, is this another one of those things where it is reported that “XYZ shall pass” and then when the teams vote on it, it never happens, or is this 100% certain to happen? I guess I’m confused on how some things (like this) can be passed, but when it comes to engine development all the sudden the teams get a say. Also, I get your point about making noise for the sake of noise, and not because the cars are more powerful, but these engines are incrementally gaining in power year over year, so I… Read more »

Dave Domenicano

I was at the Canadian Grandprix this year in Montréal and was in total shock when I heard the cars for the first time in person. I was shocked because you can hear the tyres squeeling louder than those hybrid power units. Now, their solution seems to be a little bit on the artificial side but I’m sure it will sound better than squeeling tyres!

E Ram

As a fan i’m slightly offended, we are not stupid people and understand they are just creating more sound.It doesn’t make for better racing nor does it reduce costs. Waste of time and money. The FIA shouldn’t try and treat people that watch F1 as newbies. Ooh more sound i bet it goes faster.

Paul KieferJr

One person’s “noise” is another person’s “symphony” (or something like that).

Mike S

I still can’t understand the point. Everyone will loath this comment, but I rather have a ‘spec’ V8 or V10 power unit and allow teams to develop peripheral and ancillary systems to boost efficiency and power over time. These hybrid engines are amazing tech, but 4 years ago I thought the main thing was bringing the cost of F1 down? These new engines have actually pushed teams & sponsors out of the sport…so where is the damn ‘road relevance’ in a sport that collapses in on itself due to unsustainable costs? If we are STUCK with V6 power, then some… Read more »

Bacon Wrapped Sushi

I’m with you man, I was at COTA in 2013. The cars sounded like they would explode at any moment. Especially the Marussia’s! I read that racing > sound comments. I get that, but sound is important and part of the equation. If sound does NOT matter, watch Formula E. I couldn’t even make it through the “thrilling” conclusion in London. What a bore. Not everyone wants to hear whiny gearboxes for 60 minutes. Next thing I’m gonna hear is speed doesn’t matter. I give series like LMP1 in WEC a pass because it is so fast and loose on… Read more »


Even though many are hybrid, LMP1 doesn’t treat the cars or the racing like it’s a museum performance to pristine automotive excellence. They are race cars, and they get raced come hell or high water. The mixed classes cause a lot of passing and competitiveness across and within the fields. There is much to be said for WEC.

I’m going to WEC Fuji on Sunday. And not to a single F1 event this year.


I am to to ruffle some more feathers: I do not think it will be loud enough.
In Canada, when a current spec car comes by on the straight at 11,000rpm, it does sound quite loud. However, when they go through the corners, you can’t hear them. This is the problem with turbo hybrid electric cars. If you want a race car to be exciting, it has to be REALLY loud all the time, which is exactly how the V8s were when I was at Spa in 2013……..


Ok here’s my comment… this is the type of bullsh*t that is killing my sport. The current engine specs were always going to reduce the engine noise as the greater the decibels the greater the amount of wasted energy…. The FIA went down the track of energy conservation…. Personally I don’t have a beef with the noise of the current cars, all I want to see is great open wheel racing. At present we are seeing this mid pack, but sadly not at the front of the grid due to the restrictions on engine development (in an effort to reduce… Read more »


In isolation, these cars are loud enough. The Mercedes and Ferrari units sound quite pleasant. However they do sound quiet when compared to the support races.
The sound of the front running cars today reminds me of that produced by the last turbo in 1988. They were not that much different from the 3.5 litre V8’s that were running that year. It wasn’t until the turbines were banned in 1989 and the V10’s and V12’s came in that the volume increased dramatically along with ever increasing revs.


“However they do sound quiet when compared to the support races.”

Indeed they do. I have video from 2014 Montreal, and we were conducting a discussion which is very clearly audible over the sound of the Formula cars passing by at 30 feet off track and at the end of a long straight.

That would not have been possible even 5 years ago.

And yes, the CTCC touring card (Minis, Hondas, etc) sounded much more visceral than anything in the F1 field.

Peter Aletras

So what’s next…..extra squealy tyres. Why does everything have to be ‘fixed’. The cars sound like they sound as a result of the ENGINEERING that makes them go. Let it go people!


Pardon me if I’m wrong, but many of the “what’s the big deal, get over it” comments come from people who have not actually attended a recent (2014/2015) F1 event and get all of their inputs from a SkySports or NBCSN live feed with overlaid commentary. Yes, motorsport is about automotive engineering and F1 is the pinnacle, but it’s also about passion, and the “efficient” sound of Formula H(ybrid) is that of a put-put motorboat. They are the least passionate cars of any in a full weekend of F1 racing events, and I say that from on-track listening experience. Even… Read more »

Peter Aletras

I have been to pretty much all forms of motor racing, from speedway, to V8 Supercars, WRC, top fuel drag racing and F1 in Adelaide and Melbourne (2015). Each experience was vastly different but what it came down to was the racing.
A single top fuel dragster making a run makes a LOT of noise, but no matter how good it sounds, it’s nowhere near as good as having two RACING. It’s all about the racing. Indoor cycling races are exciting, the Tour De France is exciting……no noise…..but still exciting.

The Sarcastic SOB

I don’t care what anyone says, when the best-sounding car on the track is the bleedin’ *safety car, there’s something wrong!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x