The Deafening Silence of F1?

IMG_1801wF1 2014 is proving to be a bit of a two horse race – and both horses are Mercedes. Whilst Lewis and Nico obviously need to resolve their issues following the qualifying incident at Monaco, I am delighted that Mercedes have decided that they will provide fans with the maximum entertainment, despite the cars’ obvious advantages over the other teams.

I personally applaud whoever made the decision to allow the guys to race each other properly as this season could have been a bit boring if they simply drove line astern from the start lights to the flags.

The other much discussed issue in F1 2014 is the noise – or rather the lack of it. I may be swimming against the stream but I like the sound of this year’s cars. I find it rather ironic that people who spend so much time complaining about noise near their own homes, from loud music to go kart circuits, complain that F1 isn’t loud enough.

In 2000-2003, I was privileged enough to be a Board Director of Octagon Motorsport. Octagon owned and ran Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park so I spent quite a few weekends acting as Duty Director at a race track as the British Touring Cars or British Superbikes visited.

We also managed and operated Silverstone, so each July, I would join my colleagues with a much envied Access All Areas pass for the British Grand Prix. Whilst this pass meant that I could access the Grid, Pitlane and Paddock, I didn’t have that much time to do so as there were always car parks or Arrive&Drive temporary kart circuits to inspect.

The noise of 22 V8 F1 cars racing around Silverstone was incredible. Incredibly loud that is. You didn’t really get the full aural experience on the TV, but the noise was simply unbelievably loud. In the Winter, teams were allowed to test at Silverstone back then. I recall driving to Silverstone on a weekday in January and being able to hear the one F1 car out on track from over 2 miles away from the circuit – so you can imagine how loud 22 cars were from the Octagon hospitality suite.

As 2014 started, fans and pundits complained about the lack of noise from the new turbo engined cars. I understand that some of the “uproar” was the shock of change. After years and years of screaming V8’s, it simply didn’t sound right. But if you listened carefully during the TV coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix last Sunday, you could hear when drivers lifted their right feet and their turbo waste-gates opened and dumped air pressure. You could also hear the turbos spinning up as the cars accelerated – and you could hear the tyres when a driver locked up the brakes!

For me, being able to enjoy the technical sounds of the car and driver working together far outweighs the screaming V8’s that simply drowned out everything else. I hope that the people behind the tv coverage of F1 work out where best to set up their microphones so that us fans can experience even more of the sport we love!

Jim Graham

Thanks to Autosport for the image of the Mercedes with the trumpet exhaust system.