In what can be seen as a future in cars for sound manipulation, Formula 1 is supposedly developing a microphone that can be fitted to a car’s exhaust to provide a “true amplification” of sound in the future, amid ongoing concerns over the lack of volume from the current power units.
Formula 1 adopted a quieter sound when it ditched naturally-aspirated V8 engines for 1.6-litre V6 turbo hybrid power units in 2014, leading to criticism from drivers, teams and fans.
In the early stages of the 2014 season, a ‘megaphone’ exhaust was trialled by Mercedes, in a bid to boost noise levels, but there was little audible difference.
Formula 1’s commercial chief, Sean Bratches, has now outlined a new project, which will involve a ceramic microphone being attached to a car’s exhaust set-up.
“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.
Award-winning Australian producer David Hill, formerly of Fox Sports, is involved in the project.
“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,” added Bratches.
Formula 1 has yet to confirm plans for its next engine cycle, which will begin in 2021, though a “broad agreement” was reached earlier this year to introduce simpler, cheaper and noisier engines.
A trumpet-like ‘megaphone’ exhaust was tested by teams in 2014 to try to boost noise levels but the experiment was deemed a failure.
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.