When pre-season testing got underway at Jerez this week, one of the early observations was a perceived increase in noise from the power units.
The Ferrari sounded very different, while the Honda was often clearly distinctive due to reliability issues more than anything else. Following a focus on engine noise last year, an increase in volume would certainly be welcome, and Romain Grosjean was one driver to agree that 2015 seemed to off to a louder start.
“The noise in the car is very different compared to on the audio out of it,” Grosjean said. “It isn’t as clear as in the V8s on the downshift. But overall it does sound louder than last year which is quite nice.”
“Oh really? For me it's exactly the same,” Hamilton said. “I've only heard it from in the garage. I was reminiscing about the old V10s and V8s when we used to start them up. It doesn't sound as special as those. But at the end I was braking and accelerating, and the power - that's quite special.”
When asked by F1i about the allegedly louder 2015 power units, Renault Sport F1 director of operations Rémi Taffin expressed some reservations that go against the general perceptions.
“This is all very relative, especially because Circuito de Jerez is located in some sort of natural basin,” Taffin said. “Therefore, the sounds emitted by F1 cars reverberate in between the surrounding hills.
“There are actually two ways of hearing things: 95% of the people have the impression that this year’s cars are louder, while 5% are more skeptical. What’s more, we haven’t heard the power units for three months, which can factor in the overall perception.
“Considering that we have an extra 500 to 1,000 rpm and are now more familiar with the technology, this means we can exploit the engines differently. For instance, we are running more often with an open wastegate, which can help heighten sound perception to the human ear. If people are happy, then all the better.”