WAVES OF DISSENT
disdain for the versions F1 has brought in
for 2014? The answer is power and variety,
and one could argue an increase in both
ingredients would fix the current formula.
“When we had 1,500hp-plus in the
Ferrari in qualifying, the sound, the sheer
brutality of the energy out of the thing
was incredible,” adds Johansson. “You
felt it as much as you heard it. Amazing.”
A mid-’80s F1 grid was unforgettable, in
part, because of the fury and mayhem
exploding out of the exhaust ports. F1’s
original turbo formula called upon the tiny
1.5-liter engines to produce every drop of
power on their own – no energy recovery
systems riding tandem back then – so a
forced-induction arms race escalated, with
the resulting sounds akin to rocket salvoes.
Aided by two energy recovery systems
(a kinetic- and a heat-energy based one),
Fast forward 30 years and F1 finds
itself back in a nearly identical place –
12,000rpm from small-displacement
(1.6-liter) turbo V6s, yet the reaction to
their sound has been entirely different.
“Nobody complained about the noise of
the turbos back in the 1980s,” says Stefan
Johansson, who tasted four-digit turbo
power while driving for Ferrari in 1985
and ’ 86. “The cars were spectacularly
quick and wild and crazy, and I can’t recall
one single person ever moaning.”
So why such love for the ’80s turbos and
A 1.5-liter, turbo option had been in F1’s
rule book since 1966, but it wasn’t until
Renault’s ’ 77 V6 that one appeared. By
1986, 1,000hp-plus was the norm. For
its final two seasons, boost was limited.
A turbo, 1.6-liter V6 produces around
600hp. Kinetic and heat energy recovery
systems add another 160 or so. Just
100 kilos of fuel and flow limits prevent
power level escalations (in theory...).
The 2.4-liter, naturally-aspirated V8s F1
ditched at the end of 2013 were first used
in ’06. From ’09, an 18,000rpm cap, spec
freezes and limits on engines used per
season capped power at approx. 750hp.
The new wave... Formula 1 racing’s
soundscape changed significantly
in 2014. But was it for the better?