Formula One To Make Engines Loud Again

At a meeting last week, the FIA and F1 teams agreed to some changes for the 2021 season.

xxxx during day three of the final Formula One Winter Testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 28, 2015 in Montmelo, Spain.
Mark Thompson-2015 Getty Images

Big changes come slow in Formula One. Significant modifications to the rules governing car design or engines take years to work out and plan for. After having listened to the fans, drivers, and teams all call for louder engines for several years now, it's finally happening. In 2021. On Friday, the FIA, met with representatives from Formula One's new ownership group, current teams and manufactures, as well as some folks, like Audi, who aren't currently involved in F1. The goal was to work out what to do about the engines. 

Though some tweaks have been made this season to improve the sound, the current engine formula will be in place through the 2020 season. Now is the time to start writing the rule and regulations for 2021. Everyone on hand agreed for the next generation of engines to meet certain requirements. A press release from the FIA detailed those items as the following:

  • a desire to maintain F1 as the pinnacle of motor sport technology, and as a laboratory for developing technology that is relevant to road cars
  • striving for future power units to be powerful, while becoming simpler and less costly to develop and produce
  • improving the sound of the power units
  • a desire to allow drivers to drive harder at all times.

So what does that mean for Formula One? It means that for once, though it took a while, that they are really listening to the outside world. Formula One's new owners, Liberty Media, seem to be taking the steps Bernie Ecclestone refused to do. The fans, teams, and drivers all want close, fast, and loud racing. They want a competition, not a parade. This year's changes to the cars have definitely made them faster, and they look a whole lot better, too. We have yet to see if the new cars will improve overtaking. It's going to take a few races for the teams to really get their heads around how their cars perform while racing (as opposed to testing). And only then will they start to get updates designed, built, and run on the cars. At the opening round in Australia, Sebastian Vettel was able to closely follow Lewis Hamilton for lap after lap with out destroying his tires. This would not have been possible with last year's cars. Hopefully, it's only a matter of time before the drivers and teams put all the pieces together to push the cars even further.  

Between now and the new engines in 2021, there should be more than enough time for the teams, the FIA, and Liberty Media to all play nice with each other. They can make the current car design work better for overtaking. They, especially Liberty Media, can make Formula One more accessible to the fans. They can make the sport fun again. They are working towards these goals, but time is of the essence. No one wants to see a funeral procession of F1 cars drive off into irrelevance.