However, the arrival of the hybrid engine has coincided with some thrilling racing, and intriguing storylines. Lewis vs Nico, the resurgence of Ferrari, driver moves, McLaren-Honda’s unanticipated struggles, and more. The timely race action and off-track drama have worked to overshadow the fact that the cars themselves might not be quite as awe-inspiring as they once were.
But despite the on-track action and headlines, there remains a stubborn and sizable contingent of fans who won’t entirely move past the sound issue (includes yours truly). And for that matter, F1 management have never suggested that there is no basis for complaint. Bernie Ecclestone in particular was characteristically vocal on the matter, saying at one point in 2014 that he was “horrified” by the lack of F1 sound.
The managerial and regulatory bodies involved have begun to pivot accordingly.
For 2016 the World Motor Sport Council approved regulations that require two F1 exhaust pipes instead of one. This regulation change is aimed at increasing F1 exhaust volume (we’ve heard anywhere from 8% - 25%), and creating a qualitative sound improvement as well.
Based upon the F1 2016 pre-season footage below, the change is subtle but perceptible. The cars sound throatier, and the exhaust blown diffuser more audible.
At minimum, the new regulations are a step in the right direction and a clear acknowledgement that sound is fundamental to F1. We’ll never again experience the wail of the old V8’s and V10’s, but incremental improvements in F1 exhaust volume and quality will only help to secure and build the fanbase.