Formula 1 cars are the fastest cars on the planet around a racetrack. They are also known for being incredibly loud, so loud in fact that they have been banned from racing on some circuits due to laws against noise pollution. But there is a simple reason why F1 cars are so loud.
F1 cars are so loud because they do not have sound mufflers on their exhaust pipes, and they run with very powerful engines. A sound muffler would cause a loss in performance, and F1 cars need to extract every bit of performance from the car, so they are naturally very loud.
The V6 turbo hybrid engines are certainly a lot quieter than the previous generations of F1 car, much to the disappointment of many fans and drivers. However, the engines are still much louder than your average V6 engine road car. Below we take a look at just why F1 cars are so loud in more detail.
How Loud Are F1 Cars?
F1 cars are very loud, putting out sound levels of around 130 decibels. This is louder than the average thunder clap, but it’s not as loud as the F1 engines of the past. The V8 F1 engines for example put out sound of around 145 decibels, which is much louder than current F1 cars.
Despite a significant drop in the level of sound that Formula 1 cars produce, they are still incredibly loud. The sound levels of the 2021 cars were tested while they were going around the circuit at full speed, and the cars were still close to 130 decibels.
To put that into comparison, the human hearing pain threshold is 130 decibels, which is the peak sound levels of a modern Formula 1 car. If unprotected, your ears could sustain permanent damage from spending a lot of time right next to an F1 car. Loud thunder can be around 120 decibels, while fireworks can go up to 150 decibels. A gunshot is around 150-170 decibels.
Which Formula 1 Car Was The Loudest?
Modern Formula 1 cars are nothing compared to the sounds we have experienced in the past between the screaming V10 and V12 engines. Many fans are extremely disappointed with the level of sound that is produced from a modern Formula 1 car.
While the V10 engines were incredibly loud, the V12 engines were much louder, measuring at well over 150 decibels. These cars were so loud that many circuits were not allowed to host Formula 1 races due to noise limitations that were implemented in the surrounding areas.
The V10 era was not far behind as the cars measured close to 140 decibels at their peak. At this point the Belgian Grand Prix was at risk of losing its Formula 1 contract due to excessive noise in the area. However, with the reduction in engine noise this didn’t have to happen.
What Makes An F1 Car So Loud?
Formula 1 cars, despite having smaller engines than some road cars, are still much louder than those you’re likely to hear on the street.
There are two main reasons for this. The first is that they produce much more power, at around 1000 horsepower, which means that they work much harder. This is backed up by the fact that Formula 1 engines can rev much higher (more than double) that of the average road car at 15,000 RPM.
The other reason for the difference in sound between a Formula 1 car and a road car is the fact that road cars have to use sound mufflers to silence their engines in order to comply with noise restrictions. In Formula 1 though, performance is everything, and a sound muffler takes away from the engine’s overall performance by limiting the exhaust gases that can leave the back of the car.
Why Should Formula 1 Cars Be Loud?
Many fans have been complaining about the sound of the modern Formula 1 cars. Ever since the V6 turbo hybrid engine was introduced in the 2014 season there has been a noticeable change in the engine sound, especially when compared to the previous generation’s V8 engines.
Formula 1 cars should be loud because it is part of the spectacle that the sport offers to fans who attend the races at the circuit. It’s a unique experience to see 20 Formula 1 cars charging into the first corner as fast as they can, and you need the incredible sound to go with it.
The previous generations of Formula 1 cars were so loud that they would cause the seats in the grandstands to vibrate and shake as they drove past. Simply seeing a car on track, even if it’s by itself, is for many a better experience with louder engines.
Why Do Modern F1 Cars Whistle?
Modern Formula 1 engines are not only quieter than their predecessors, but they also make a “whistling” sound that was not present with the previous generation of V8 engines. This sound came into effect in 2014 with the V6 turbo hybrid engines.
To many people this sounds like a Formula E car, and others have described the cars as sounding like “spaceships.” Either way, there is a simple explanation to this whistling noise that can be heard over the combustion engine.
This noise is produced by the turbos as the turbocharger waste gates open on the car. This noise can only be heard when the turbo is running, and it is often most prominent as the car is accelerating out of a corner. This noise is not exclusive to Formula One, and it is indeed present in many racing series that feature turbocharged engines.
Which Race Cars Are The Loudest?
It’s hard to tell which race car has truly been the loudest in history. Not all of them have been properly measured in terms of how many decibels their engines produce. However, we can take a rough guess at which race cars have been the loudest.
One car that contends for the top spot as the loudest race car ever was the 1991 Mazda 787B. This car had a 4-rotor naturally aspirated engine, which, being a rotary engine rather than a traditional piston engine, allowed for incredibly high RPMs. Once again due to the engine and exhaust setup, the sound it produced was very loud, and it’s widely regarded as the loudest ever race car.
Another race car that competes for having one of the loudest engines is the Sauber C9. The C9 has a 5.0-liter V8 Mercedes-Benz AMG engine which is extremely loud mainly due to how the engine was set up inside the car as well as the fact that the car didn’t have a sound muffler.
F1 cars are so loud because they have very powerful engines, and no mufflers on their exhaust pipes. This means you hear the full brunt of the engine. However, F1 cars used to be louder, when V8, V10 and even V12 engines were used on the older cars.