The main talking point about Formula One after Melbourne heralded a new era was not about the racing or the drama on track, of which there was plenty, but about the engines being quieter. And that’s sad. Sad because some fans, mainly those who were watching from a sofa and not the track, feel the need to talk more about the decibels rather than some of the brilliant racing seen in Australia. Those making a big noise about the new sound need to see the bigger picture.
The new engines, as any F1 fan who isn’t either deaf or an inhabitant of a cave knows, are much quieter. Of this, there is no doubt. Fans were warned long ago that the turbo’s in these new power units would make the cars quieter, and that the scream of the V8’s would be more of an early morning teenage boy’s grunt. People, then, seemed to accept that this was a fact of change and that they ‘only cared about the on track action’. Sadly, it appears that they didn’t mean that.
Australia saw a lot of action. There were many overtakes, and not a lot of these were tyre related, something else purists were grumbling about last year. There doesn’t seem to be any pleasing some people. Formula One is the greatest show in the world and whilst it can be argued that the noise is part of the spectacle it is most certainly not the be all and end all. Far from it. I for one would certainly sooner have it that the racing is fantastic with engines as quiet as the rustling of leaves, than with monstrously loud engines but as much overtaking in a 100m sprint between Eamonn Holmes and Usain Bolt. Because that is what race fans want. We want drama. We want action. We want unpredictability. Sound doesn’t necessarily figure into that.
If the grumbly sofa-sitters (Not all of those who cannot get to a meeting fall into this bracket) or the genuinely hard of hearing are so worried about not being able to hear the cars as well as before, then it surely would make sense to either turn up the volume on the television or the hearing aids? Had it not occurred to them to do that before complaining? Is it not the logical thing to do when you believe something to be too quiet?
I can understand why some fans are a little disappointed at the sounds made and the decibels, as I will readily admit to missing the V8 screams. But we will get used to the new sound. We will get used to being able to hear the fans cheer on the local boy. We will get used to the deeper grunt, just as we got used to the shrieks of a previous era. It will take time, but Motorsport fans are in the main an adaptable bunch.
I’ll sum my post with this; Motorsports is not about sound. It is about cars/bikes competing to win. It is about what happens on the track. It is about how the cars are driven by the most skillful of men. It is about the drama that plays out over the course of the race distance. Judge the new era on this, rather than how loud it is.