The sound of the 2014 F1 power units has been a subject of discussion since the Australian GP, and a negative reaction from many fans has hardly comes as a surprise.
The sound does not come across well on TV, or to those watching the cars blast down a straight. However it is much better appreciated live by those spectating in corners, and hearing the drivers go down and up the gears.
The always controversial Melbourne F1 boss Ron Walker was quick to join the debate, complaining that he didn’t get the show that he’d signed up for.
Intriguingly seven years ago the FIA was made aware that engine noise could be an issue once the sport switched to turbo power.
In June 2007 the FIA produced a document called “Formula One 2011: Power-Train Regulation Framework,” subtitled “A Briefing Note for the Formula One Manufacturers’ Advisory Committee Meeting, June 2007.”
Commissioned by Max Mosley and prepared by FIA advisors Tony Purnell and Peter Wright, it provided the guidelines that ultimately led to the new regulations, albeit three years later than was originally anticipated.
Although there would be many other documents, much (but not all) of the above report eventually translated into the 2014 rules pushed through by Mosley’s successor Jean Todt.
Purnell and Wright were well aware that the fans had to be taken into account, writing: “The main constraint will be to avoid damage to the emotional attraction of Formula One for its fan base. In particular the technical awe of Formula One and its sheer speed must be retained.”
Regarding the sound made by what was then intended a 2.2-litre V6, they wrote: “The noise of high rpm is to be replaced, by what we don’t know, but it will be quieter. The view is that the risk of this new noise being unappealing is a risk worth taking. Quieter cars are 100% in line with environment demands. The unique and sophisticated power-trains are certain to make a dramatic, if very different noise of their own.”
It will be fascinating to see if the FIA formally investigates the possibility of ramping up the sound for 2015, possibly by mandating a new exhaust design.