It’s probably a good thing in F1 that controversy is never far from boiling over and becoming bigger than the actual racing we want to watch. With only 19 races this year – probably 18 should the EU and the USA continue on its path of isolating Russia – there’s only so much technical and strategic analysis we can conjure up from 305 kilometres of racing.
F1 started 2014 with one very large monkey on its back – a positive giant Mandrill even – and that was the fact that after 8 years of screaming 18,000rpm V8’s we were returning to a turbo era with smaller engines. NOISE! This had been the concern for everyone. Would the experience of F1 through our sense of hearing be diminished?
Of course, the F1 ringmaster has been upping the anti for years stating he was against changing the V8’s and has banged the drum over rallying the troops to revolt against a diminished noise experience for quite some time.
Razlan Razali, promoter of the Malaysian race and billionaire son of the former prime minister – has made contradictory comments on the topic of the reduced noise. Earlier in the week he suggested more families may attend the race due to them being less concerned about damage to their children’s ears.
Today he is quoted as suggesting it may affect the race atmosphere, however, he demonstrated that the design of the grandstand roof had considered noise amplification when constructed and this should mitigate the reduction in sound levels.
The big news is – that for the first time in 2014, Mr. Ecclestone bothered to turn up and listen in person to the new breed of F1 cars, and he commented on more than one occasion that “it’s better than I thought”. When pressed whether it should be even louder, Bernie shrugged and suggested, “a little bit”. Though he did reveal that he’d been informed by engineers increasing the volume via exhaust tuning would not work.
So there we have it. The engines are officially “loud”, but could be a little louder to be optimum.
Having listened to the popular media which includes the BBC for the past 2 weeks, it has been a source of dismay the oxygen they have given to this topic. An ageing and retiring Ron Walker spits his dummy out and makes ridiculous claims about suing F1 and all we hear about this new fantastic technical formula is noise, noise, noise… or lack of.
It was clear to TJ13 within a day of the Melbourne race, that the TV experience was significantly misrepresentative of that felt by fans attending and hearing the cars for the first time in Melbourne. A casual glance at twitter also reveals this to be the case – that there is a disconnect between the trackside experience and for those watching on TV.
Even Ecclestone admitted, “we need to sort out the TV – get it turned up a little”, so the conspiracy theories suggesting Ecclestone had deliberately instructed FOM TV to reduce the trackside sound in the final mix, may have been rather premature. However, the lack of foresight of FOM TV to anticipate this problem and devise new sound recording solutions requires the introduction of ‘Madame Guillotine’.
Last year, a number of the broadcasters persistently moaned and complained about tyres to the point of exasperation, however even the likes of David Croft and Martin Brundle who are not known to see the glass half full, are making it clear the new V6 sound is definitely adding to the experience of attending an F1 circuit.
Brundle described the Mercedes as “soulfull”, and today at the final hairpin, the number of times we could hear the tyre squeal as the drivers overcooked their approach – was fantastic.
TJ13 has been running a poll, and we say a huge thank you to all who participated. It has featured the biggest number of votes yet. So far 607 votes have revealed the following.
The sound of the new F1 engines isVotes cast so far….607 Very Good 16% Good 35% Average 18% Bad 17% Very Bad 11% No Opinion 3%
It is definitely the case that a majority of you will have never heard one of the new F1 cars in the flesh, however, those making a positive vote represent 50% of the total.
Those voting negatively, represent a smaller but still sizeable 28% of the total.
We even have Ecclestone intimating he’ll cease his “ya boo, told you so” antics and hopefully kick some FOM TV butt at the same time.
I did notice that during the night time hours when more TJ13 readers from the America’s would be voting, the negative opinions were much stronger. Let’s hope the Canadian, US and other broadcasters of that region sort out their issues and bring you a more representative engine sound soon, because F1 needs the fans of the America’s. TJ13 also recognises you are around 30% of our readership.
Sebastian Vettel appears to have once again misjudged the general mood of the F1 fans when he rather crassly described the new F1 engine sound as “shit”, adding, “and where do batteries belong? – in a mobile phone”.
TJ13 recommends Seb checks out what the latest supercar manufacturers are producing and maybe as quadruple F1 champion he should get with the times.
So – one Mandrill slain, and in a few races hopefully the shallow and sensationalist British media, predominantly the written press, will realise they are wrong and refuse to give the ‘reduced noise’ minority lobby any oxygen of publicity.
All we need is the fuel sensor flow rate matter to be put to bed, and we can focus more on watching the drivers battle with their torque wrenched beasts and appreciate the skill of the engineers as they seek to tune them from without and within. Most importantly, it appears as though the racing this year may be very interesting indeed.