Why do Formula One racing cars make so much noise?

Formula One is one of the most followed racing events across the world. For years, it has brought competition and excitement to its fans. With the passage of time, Formula One has made constant changes to make the cars safer, efficient, and faster. However, there is one thing that attracts the biggest thrill, and that is the sound of V12 engines (now V8 and V6). Although F1 racing sounds have become a significant part of the event’s identity, but has brought many people to the discussion table as well. Therefore, let’s discuss why Formula One racing cars make so much noise. 

Let us start by saying that Formula One racing cars are purposely designed for racing, so they are bound to be loud. Formula One fan knows what the old V12 and V8 engines were capable of doing and the sounds produced were music to the ears. Formula One racing cars do not have a muffler that helps quiet down the car as compared to regular cars. This is known as a free exhaust system, meaning that the car does not have any kind obstruction in terms of the exhaust flow. Whereas, in normal cars, there is a catalytic converter that is beneficial for engine efficiency and reducing pollution, but it reduces the engine’s overall performance. 

Today, Formula One cars feature V6 engines that have sparked a debate amongst viewers and the fans. A lot of people are off the view that Formula One cars do not sound the same at all. What was once the pinnacle of sports has lost its charm. Unfortunately, a somewhat hybrid type engines are not working for them. 

Furthermore, Formula One cars are redesigned, constructed, and sometimes modified almost every year as per the changing rules and regulations of FIA. A lot of research and careful designing takes place behind the curtains to make the cars faster than ever. Newer engines and engine mods are introduced to make them seconds faster. As a result, these cars can reach 0-100 in less than 2.5 seconds. So if a car is able to reach 400 km/h in the next few seconds, you do not expect it to do it silently. 

Critics have given a thought to the future of Formula One featuring hybrid cars. However, considering the performance requirements and extremely tough tracks, the possibility of creating such a hybrid system is close to zero. Consider cornering, rapid acceleration, braking, and top speed stretches, a hybrid system of today will not be able to handle such tough racing conditions.

Apart from the tough racing conditions, the most important factor is the temperature. Normal F1 cars can reach up to 2,600 degrees Celsius, which is half as hot as the surface of the sun. Therefore, one can clearly imagine what it will do to the batteries.  

Moreover, as petrol or diesel is burned in a car’s engine known as internal combustion engine hot gaseous waste is ejected through the exhaust. (Formula racing cars do not use petrol or diesel but a special fuel known as methanol.) As exhaust gas is thrown out at a great force under heavy pressure it creates noisy sound.

In order to ‘muzzle’ that noise a silencer is fitted in each motor car. The silencer comprises of numerous boxes separated by thin partitions of perforated sheets. Hot exhaust gas streams through the maze of numerous holes before it is ejected outside. Its torturous passage through the silencer obstructs its force besides reducing the pressure so it is unable to escape with a roar. Ultimately much noise is not produced.

The engine of a modern motor car is very quiet due to such silencer but on the other hand there is a considerable disadvantage also. Efficiency of engine is reduced due to the silencer because the engine has to bear the impact of obstruction caused to the exhaust gas which in turn reduces the speed of the car somewhat.

How can a Formula car which is participating in a race where speed is essential afford any reduction in its speed? In order to see that the speed is not curtailed the silencer itself is not fitted in the exhaust of the Formula racing car. Let there be a roaring noise instead.

More reading:

Muffler (silencer) (Wikipedia)
Formula One car (Wikipedia)

Related posts: