F1's new engines: blast from the past

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IOL mot pic jan29 F1 Jerez Hamilton Getty Lewis Hamilton locks up a front wheel under braking in the new Mercedes W05. Team Mate Niko Rosberg said the sound reminded him 1980s videos of his father Keke racing. Picture: Mark Thompson

Jerez, Spain - The sound of Formula One's new power units was a blast from the past for Nico Rosberg, son of 1982 champion Keke, but others were less sure after the 2014 cars made a quiet test debut on Tuesday.

Rosberg said: “It reminds me a bit of when I used to look at the videos from the '80s, the old turbos, and it's that same sound now - deep, with lots of power on the straight.

“So it really gave me a flashback to those videos I was watching.”

The sport is undergoing a transformation this year, with the screaming normally-aspirated V8 engines replaced by a complicated V6 turbo and energy recovery systems incorporated into the unit.

The sound has been a vexed question for many.

Some feared the 1.6-litre engines could prove a turnoff for spectators accustomed to having their eardrums assaulted by a barrage of noise.

The sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone is no fan of the V6s, which have been introduced to help lend the sport a greener image and pioneer fuel-saving technology of relevance to ordinary road users.

With plenty of teething problems on Tuesday, it was a case of all quiet on the testing front with some teams failing to even get out of the garage and long periods of eerie silence - normally a sign of something amiss at a racetrack.

Those few cars that did put in laps did so mostly in isolation.

It was hard to form a serious judgement of the sound from the evidence available, but Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff assured reporters they would come to like what they heard.

“You must not forget that what we are doing here is basically a system check and shakedown,” he said.

Once you hear a car on full revs and flat out and more cars, I think in a couple of months nobody is going to really speak about the old engines and old engine sound,” he added.

Others were yet to be convinced.

“A bit disappointing, to be honest,” was German Nico Hulkenberg's verdict. “It sounds a bit like a DTM car. It's not the same sound as a V8, it's a lot quieter from what I've heard today.

“Let's see, maybe there's more to come, but it's not the old screaming V8 and high rev engine sound.”

Red Bull's quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel, a driver fascinated by the sport's history, was clearly in Hulkenberg's camp.

Asked for his opinion, Vettel smiled.

“On the sound? I love V8s,” the 26-year-old German replied. “I would have loved to go the other way, back to V10.”



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