A lot of people are not happy with the sound of the new engines in this year's Formula One. As a result of extensive rule changes, the 2014 F1 cars are much quieter than last year's models, with none of that ear-splitting high-pitched scream that made 2013 and earlier cars so appealing. And now, a competitor is putting them to shame.
The Formula One Australian Grand Prix's promoter has even threatened to sue F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone over a breach of contract for the sotto voce vehicles. It's true — they do sound a little like vacuum cleaners compared to last year.
Formula One's upstart competitor, Formula E, thinks it has the inside edge in sound, despite not using an internal combustion engine in its cars. Formula E's racers are entirely electric, using two motors driving the cars' rear wheels with an estimated 3-second dash from 0 to 100 km/h. The combination of tyre road noise, electric motor whine and aerodynamics package produces a sound that's definitely futuristic — it's somewhere between a jet aircraft, Star Wars podracer and supercharged hair dryer. We love it.
Compare this with the lacklustre sound of the 2014 Formula One racers' turbocharged, hybrid-electric V6 powerplants, and it's easy to see why the Formula E guys think their cars sound better. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag told AFP that more video would be online this week, showcasing the sound of the first car's McLaren-produced electric power unit.
Formula E is shaping up to be a competition worth watching. Starting in September, 10 races around the globe are scheduled, and the open regulations mean there's a chance we'll see some more variety in chassis, aero and engine design than the slightly staid situation that Formula One is currently in. [AFP via Planet-F1]