The Ram's Eye - A Driver's Blog: March 2014



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Tuesday, 25 March 2014

2014 Spec Formula 1 Cars




By now, I imagine all F1 fans have probably watched the first Grand Prix of the season. I finally had a chance to watch it last weekend and I must say, I was quite disappointed with the noise. The major changes to cars have been decreasing engine size, rpm limit and cylinder count, a return to turbocharging, limiting fuel use, body changes to promote safety and increase passing opportunities and increase available power boost from the electric motor, both in duration and magnitude. If you want to learn more about the changes, click here to go to the summary on the Formula 1 official website or watch the video below prepared by the Red Bull.




The changes to the engine itself are the ones that most affect the noise. Firstly, a drop from a V8 to a V6 means fewer cylinder fires per engine revolution and, therefore, per unit of time (second, minute, etc.). This is coupled with a drop in maximum rpm from the typical 18,000 - 19,000 to 15,000. This means fewer fires per revolution and fewer revolutions per minute which results in a very different engine note. Then add a turbocharger which muffles exhaust noise even more, and you have got an F1 car that barely sounds different from a loud, high-rpm turbocharger street car. I personally like two types of engine noises - high rpm, high cylinder count engines and big displacement rumbling engines. The new F1 cars don't fall into either of these categories and while they don't sound bad, they don't sound nearly as glorious as the last spec V8's did and comparing them to the V10's would just be a sin. I think this is the first time in my life time where road-going Ferraris sound better than F1 Ferraris, let alone Grand-Am (Tudor) racing Ferraris. 

I personally would rather see motor sports thrive due to than be killed by efficiency standards and I am all for conserving resources so I am not at all opposed to rule changes that reduce fuel use. I think I would have preferred cutting the race by, say, 10 laps, though, and proposing other engine efficiency requirements that don't require such a dramatic downsize to keep the noise which I think is a huge part of the experience. What do you think? Does the change in engine noise make any difference? What do you think could have been done to save fuel without downsizing the engines? Sound off in the comments below!