F1 car engines quieter for Montreal Grand Prix weekend

Racing fans in Montreal this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix will notice one key difference at the race — the cars will be quieter.

Formula 1 engines now have V6 turbocharged engines instead of V8, making them quieter and greener

A file photo of Germany's Sebastian Vettel car at the 2013 Montreal Grand Prix. This year cars will only be permitted to consume 100 kg of fuel, down from about the 160 kg they each consume during the race. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Racing fans in Montreal this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix will notice one key difference at the race — the cars will be quieter.

Formula One car engines have been changed from V8 to V6 turbocharged engines.

The two fewer cylinders makes for a less high-pitched sound as the cars speed along the track.

“They are turbocharged, so it’s not a normally aspirated engine. The turbo forces air into the combustion chamber to get more power,” said Piero Facchin, a reporter for several Italian-language magazines and an F1 fan who has been attending the race since 1978.  

F1 president and CEO Bernie Ecclestone said he was 'horrified' by the quieter, greener race car engines. (Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Besides being a little quieter, the modified race cars are also greener.

"They are using 30 per cent less fuel, going just as fast and they’re going the same distance. It’s much greener now," Facchin told CBC Daybreak’s Mike Finnerty on Thursday.

For this weekend’s race, the cars can only use 100 kg of fuel for the entire race. Previously, cars could use an unlimited supply of fuel but typically weighed in at around 160 kg.

“Last year, the car would use about 100 kg in three-quarters of the race. They are making up that quarter of the race using electric power only,” said F1 superfan Antonio Romano.

Quieter cars, less fun?

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said earlier in the season that the new, quieter engines “horrified” him, and Facchin understands that sentiment.

You associate the speed with the sound, and the sound is just so penetrating. It’s like an electrical shock,” Facchin said, adding that he spoke to the promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix who also said he was a little concerned.

“François Dumontier [of Octane Racing Group] told me, ‘From a promoter’s point of view, I am worried but at the same time, you have to celebrate that they have all this new technology that allows them to go the same distance with less fuel,’” Facchin said.

As a fan, Romano said the lower-pitch of the engines this year won’t bother him.

“I was a big fan of the sound, but when you consider the technological advances and the economical standpoint — there are some teams that are barely making their budget for this year — saving that extra fuel may help get them to next year,” Romano said. He also said he doesn’t think ticket sales will suffer.

“At the end of the day, the fans will see that it’s still F1 racing. They’ll see it’s the epitome of speed on the road and they will come see it,” Romano said.

“I think so, too. It’s the highest form of automobile racing. We are lucky to have it here. We’re one of only 19 cities to have it, so we’re very lucky,” Facchin said.


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