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F1 Wants To ‘Amplify’ Engine Sound On TV By Adding Microphones To The Exhaust

Photo credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Photo credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Gather ‘round, kids, and let’s talk about the olden days of Formula One: Back before 2014, the sport used to use these big, loud V8 engines. Before that, it used even bigger and louder V10s and V12s. Then, in the tragic year of 2014, the turbo hybrid V6 engines came along. They were not very loud, and they still aren’t.


F1 engine noise has been on fans’ minds since the quiet, more fuel-efficient 1.6-liter V6s came along, and Reuters reports that F1’s new bosses now want to add a little oomph to the television broadcasts by putting microphones on the cars’ exhaust systems.

Reuters didn’t mention whether F1 had any ideas to make the cars actually loud at the tracks as well. From the story:

Formula One’s commercial managing director Sean Bratches said more needed to be done for the worldwide audience.

“One of the things that we want to amplify going forward are the sounds of the sport, because they are viscerally moving to fans and critically important in all the research that we do,” he told Reuters.

Bratches said Australian producer David Hill, a man with a stellar reputation in sports television and broadcast innovation, was involved in that.

“He’s working with a German concern to develop a ceramic microphone that we can actually adhere to the exhaust pipe to get the true amplification of sound for fans,” he said, as one example.


Adhering to an exhaust pipe sounds like a warm place to hang out for an entire race, but it would be more than worth it to hear a Honda engine failure from up close and personal. Must-see (hear?) TV right there, everybody.

F1 will also have new engine regulations come 2021, which is, somehow, less than four years from now. But don’t count on the sport to sacrifice the green nature of its hybrid engines for a little more sound. From Reuters:

Formula One faces a decision on what kind of engines to use from 2021, with some calling for a return to simpler, cheaper and louder ones that would allow new manufacturers to come in. Others want to develop the greener technology.

Jean Todt, president of the governing FIA, said in March that any attempt by Formula One to turn back the clock would be unacceptable to society.

Look, F1, if you truly want to be “green,” just don’t run races at all. After all, circling a big race track 50 times doesn’t really fall into the “necessary work commute” category, and if it did, you could at least get everyone to carpool.

If you want us to be happy while we slowly kill the earth with exhaust fumes as a pastime, make the engines loud. After all, you won’t be able to hear any future complaints if we all ruin our ears! (Or, uh, kill the earth. Whichever comes first.)

Staff writer, Jalopnik

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99% Invisible did a great show about how much work goes into sound production for televised sports like football and baseball. This makes sense.

As long as it’s the actual car exhausts being mic’d, and not special effects added on, I’m 100% in favor of it.

Edit: here’s the show—