Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton didn’t hold back when sharing his views on Formula 1’s current engines, saying they sound terrible and make the spectacle “sad”.
Hamilton feels the quieter V6 Turbo power units have taken a major element away from F1, with the sound of the engines being one of the main reasons why he got hooked on the sport.
F1 brought in 1.6-litre V6 Turbo hybrid engines for the 2014 season and despite rapid development of the power units over the years, many are still disappointed with the sound.
The current engines are clearly a lot quieter than the roaring V10s and punchy V8s used previously, with a quieter, deeper tone and each manufacturer having a distinct sound.
Talking to BBC Radio 5 Live, three-time champion Hamilton didn’t shy away from venting his frustration at the current sound of F1:
“I’ve said time and time again that I think it’s terrible. Most people are like, ‘oh, it’s not that bad’. But my opinion is that I think it is. When I first went to a grand prix at Spa in 1996, got into the paddock and Michael [Schumacher] came past in the V10 [Ferrari] and it literally rumbled my ribcage.
“I was hooked even more than I was when I’d watched it on TV. It was like a fighter jet – I was like ‘what the hell?’ It’s not the only thing the fans love, but it’s an addition to smell, to the roar of awesomeness that Formula 1 is. Take that away and, jeez, it’s just sad to see the cars come by now, sound-wise.”
Hamilton – who revealed on Wednesday the design of his 2017 helmet, after opening it up to fans in a competition – also admitted F1 is outdated compared to other sports, although it is catching up:
“I don’t feel Formula 1 is winning – it’s not been for a long time. That’s to do with rule changes, it’s to do with not helping or not engaging the fans enough. There is still a great following in Formula 1, and I’m excited for the new owners that have come in. I’m hoping they do something new.
“New blood. New ideas. New ways of engaging the fans in a unique way. F1 is a bit outdated, if you look at other sports they’re further ahead in the entertainment factor. Formula 1 is catching up, and they have a lot of catching up to do.”
It’s refreshing to hear an F1 driver being so open and honest about their thoughts on F1, perhaps his words will be a wake-up call to the new owners, Liberty Media.