BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Formula One cars could be up to 25 percent noisier this season due to new exhaust regulations aimed at turning up the volume, Williams technical head Pat Symonds said on Friday.
The increase may still not be enough to placate those who miss the ear-splitting wail of the old V8 engines that preceded the current V6 turbo hybrid power units, but it should be noticeable.
“In the past, everyone has run wastegate pipes into the main tailpipe of the engine and what we have to do in 2016 is separate them,” Symonds said at the Autosport International Show.
He explained that removing a ‘side branch resonator’, which acts like a silencer in the exhaust, would produce more decibels.
“With the wastegate open, it will be 25 percent louder,” he told Reuters.
Symonds said the power units had already got louder last season due to natural technical evolution and that would continue.
“We’ve seen some big increases since the beginning of 2014 — the cars have got naturally louder and they will get naturally louder this year in addition to the changes we have made to exhaust.”
The ‘big unknown’, he said, was how much fans would hear of the popping and whistles associated in the past with turbo engines.
“We haven’t heard these on the circuit yet, but I think we may hear a few of the old signature noises from the turbos, the whistles and the pops — but we will have to wait and see about that one,” he added.
The V6 power units which were introduced in 2014 are designed to be as efficient as possible, with a motor generator attached to the turbocharger to harvest waste energy, and that has meant a lot less noise.
Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been highly critical of the sound, as have top drivers like Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, although some individual race promoters say the quieter cars have attracted a new family audience.
The 2016 cars will be heard for the first time in pre-season testing that starts in Barcelona on Feb 22. The first race is in Australia on March 20.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)