#F1 Features: Australian Grand Prix 2014 – The Sound of Silence

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor  Jennie Mowbray

“Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not”

                            ~Shakespeare The Tempest~

Noise would prove to be the main point of interest on the first day of practice at Albert Park – would the power-trains be as subdued as many fans feared and were the tyres going to screech as they slid around with the lack of downforce?

The second concern of the day would be the weather. Friday turned out to be a fine autumnal day as the sun shone and a light breeze blew; keeping the threatened rain clouds away.

Melbourne is well known for having four seasons in a single day but today there were only two. And whilst it’s true that there was no rain, there were many unfortunate men who were obliged to sit in the covered stands to appease their wives.

It was like a winter’s day, warm in the sunshine probably too warm to sit in all day and yet in the shade there was a wind that rapidly chilled to a level which was rarely experienced even in the northern territories of Australia where coats are seldom, if ever, needed.

Flyover - Tornado

Flyover – Tornado

The most clamourous machine that we heard all day was the FA-18 jet that spent 15 minutes soaring overhead entertaining the crowd. As it screamed low over the track no-one could communicate with anyone else except with sign language. I probably should have been using my ear protection but I never even thought of it!

Second in the deafening stakes was the Red Bull RB7.

This was involved in a race called the Ultimate Speed Challenge which aimed to get three vehicles – Mercedes 6.3 L AMG, a V8 Super-car and the RB7 completing a single lap from a standing start by going over the finish line simultaneously after embarking with a carefully calculated gap between them.

Yesterday the RB7 had managed to go 3 seconds faster than it had been expected to – while the other two cars went a second slower. The starting times for each car were further adjusted today in an attempt to get the concurrent finish.

Mick Doohan in the Mercedes AMG made an error on turn 15 which resulted in the V8 just beating him to the line. However David Coulthard in the RB7 passed both cars easily at the beginning of the main straight. He will have an even bigger time margin before his start tomorrow!

Trailing the RB7 by some decibels and taking the final place on the ‘noise’ podium were the V8 supercars. They were aided by the fact that they came around Turn 3 in en masse, all struggling desperately to gain the advantage over their opponents.

Australian V8 Supercars 2014

Australian V8 Supercars 2014

They managed to get up to three cars spread across the track but despite this, passing was very limited because the drivers who took the best line going into one corner and gaining a slight advantage would lose it at the very next corner. In a strange twist – the leading driver into Turn 3 on the first lap would go on to win the race.

Fourth but not last came the new fangled Formula One V6 turbos.

Sitting by Turn 3 there was no need for any ear protection. In fact, said ear protection would have taken away the challenge of trying to determine – by sound alone – which power-unit was hurtling down the short straight between turns 2 and 3 before the car came into view.  The cars fortunately still looked spectacular and went very fast.

What made even more noise than the engines was the sound of the tyres locking up coming into Turn 3.  Perez was the first to have an incident – spinning out of control but managing to extricate himself from the gravel. JEV had two such instances, both times managing to travel across the gravel, avoiding contact with the wall, and back out onto the track.

Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari

Kimi was trying to make my heart stop by screeching his brakes for seven laps in a row whilst trying to slow down for Turn 3. He made me fear that he was going to end up in the gravel right in front of me and I had no wish to see him out of his car at close quarters.  I would much prefer his car to remain firmly on the track.

There was only one car which caused the crunching sound of carbon fibre meeting an immovable object. Grosjean, seemingly throwing caution to the wind after his minimal completion of laps, hit the wall at Turn 13. This was not as unlucky as it might seem as he had had numerous contacts with the grass verge and frequent locking up of his tyres prior to this final indignity.

Last of all in the noise stakes were the Mazda 3’s. I had not noticed the start of the race and the first thing I heard was the squealing of their tyres in front of me. I looked up stunned as there no sound of any engine audible. Car after car went  past in silence (apart from their tyres). I don’t think I’m a fan of electric car racing – I’d much rather hear engines than tyres!

Fortunately for those concerned about the mechanical grip of the new Formula One cars there was no tyre sound emitted from the tyres while cornering except when the car was about to go into the gravel. This at least had the advantage of giving us some warning that something exciting was about to happen in front of us!

15 responses to “#F1 Features: Australian Grand Prix 2014 – The Sound of Silence

  1. I used to live, for 15 years, besides a belgian airforce airport. And i love f16. When we where younger we’d go up close to the landing strip to the secret places only us local kids knew. And if the pilots saw us they gave us a free show. To this day the only thing that gives the same feeling as going to an f1 race. Amazing noise and obeying physical laws to the max.

    • The FA-18 is not a Tornado. It’s a Hornet.

      And in fighter configuration it carries 10 (radar) +2 (IR) missiles, and it also has a gun. Serious trouble when a flight of these manouver.

      Toni Vilander, expert commentator for Finnish broadcaster MTV3, who has driven for Ferrari for 10 years in different series, claimed that last years formulas had a noise level of 150 decibel and this year’s have a level of 100 decibel. The problem with the statement is that the decibel scale is logarithmic. That means that 103 decibels is double of the sound of 100 decibels. Calculate what 150 decibels would be in sound effect!

  2. @ Jenny

    ” there was no tyre sound emitted from the tyres while cornering ”

    Did you hear the tyres squealing on acceleration tho ?

    It was clearly audible on the TV.

    Traction is definitely a major problem with all that torque.

    Should be fun if it rains …… 😉

    • Where we were sitting the tyre noise was all caused by breaking or sliding. We were on Turn 3 and I also walked around and stood by Turns 4 & 5. Lots of cars were fishtailing out of Turn 3 but there wasn’t any squealing with it.

  3. It’s rather amusing reading about how fans are complaining about the lack of noise from this years F1 engines. It’s really only since the mid-90’s to 2000 that the engines became painful to listen to without ear protection. The first turbo era engines weren’t ear-shattering as most didn’t rev above 11,000 -12,000 RPM and the sound was more a buzz than a high-pitched scream and before that most of the atmo’s could rarely get much above 11,000 RPM. And unless you were standing right next to them weren’t painful to hear. In those days I never used earplugs – now I always do.

    • Some good points about the revs cav. I remember standing on the Brabham straight at Brands Hatch during 1986 tyre tests. The Lotus Renault was a powerful car and you could feel that inside but when the Honda ran it shook the ground with its bass rumble. Awesome.

      Fast forward to 1989 onwards and you had Ferrari, then Honda and finally Lamborghini V12’s . They could sing 🙂

  4. like going to a concert and the opening acts being louder and more impressive than the headliners! what a joke. I don’t care about actual RPMs but I do care about the sheer intensity you got from the V10 and V8s and how you felt it in your bones. Also on TV those turbos sound like a dentist drill. Not the best sound in the world for me.

    • Not sure but I guess your TV mustn’t have particularly good speakers or your settings may need adjusting, I listened to practice 1 through headphones and the Merc car in particular sounded freakin awesome. The second practice I watched through the telly speakers and although you lost a fraction of the depth of noise they sounded cool. The Renault engines haven’t been run at full capacity yet, not even by RedBull and when Ferrari turned it up a bit they too sounded like they meant business. Granted it a new TV (my 1st HD too, have never seen cars in such great detail before) but I would suggest having a go at twerling your personal settings in the sound menu if your TV allows you to make such adjustments. I was no fan of the V8’s or V10’s due to the scream, even my wife thought they sounded more interesting than what she described as, ‘the angry swarm of wasps you have forced upon me for the last 10years or so’, so for her to say that as someone who really dosn’t give 2 hoots about F1 unless Lewis or Jenson are going to win, it speaks volumes.

      • tannoy system 10 dmt speakers and JBL active sub with a bryston 4b st amp and NAD preamp. I’m a professional music engineer. I know sound.

        • I wasn’t trying to insult and sorry if it cam over that way. I was just making a suggestion based on what I had experienced. I really like the sound and hearing the tyres and also the raw of the crowd too.
          Again no offence intended, it’s a shame you aren’t that keen on the engine sound, I hope you still enjoy the racing though.

        • @ av2290

          The reason the turbos sound like a dentist drill is because a dentist drill spins at least as fast ( if not faster ) than the turbos.

          So it’s no surprise really that they sound similar ….

          Mind if I ask something ?

          I just looked at the spec on your tannoy speakers, and as their range starts at 35 Hz – why are you also running a sub ?

          Unless it’s lower ?

          Very nice system BTW.

          But as an engineer, I thought you might have went for an active system ?

          • those are my retired speakers. I use active genelec 1038b and Yamaha ns10 at the studio. the tannoys have a response down to 35 but the real life output at that frequency is low. for home I like to hype it up a bit with the sub for listening pleasure and not necessarily accuracy.

  5. For those wondering what a first generation turbo car sounded like – watch this. The car is a Ferrari 126C2 – with a 1.5L V6. 11,000 RPM and 600HP

    No where near as loud as cars of the last 15 years.

    • The photos were brilliant weren’t they!! They were taken by Carl who sent in lots of the other photos (?all) that have been put on the site in the news articles. They were just perfect for my write-up! We had met up at the track earlier in the day and my only request was a good photo of Kimi – that one was perfect as I spent the whole of P1 watching him lock up his brakes just like that….

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