How Loud Are Formula 1 Cars?

How Loud Are Formula 1 Cars

A Formula 1 race is a very loud event. Between the noise of the spectators, the announcer, and, most importantly, the noise of the cars out on the race track, it’s easy to say that a day out on an F1 track would definitely take a toll on someone’s ears. That said, just how loud is a Formula 1 car on its own? F1 cars are spectacular pieces of modern engineering and contain some of the most powerful engines and equipment that can be found in the entire world of racing, so it makes sense that they’d pack quite a punch when it comes to sound.

F1 Car Loudness

When separated from all the other hustle and bustle of an F1 race, a single regulation F1 race car can produce around 130 decibels. This noise level is considered extremely high, and it’s just below the level that can permanently damage a person’s hearing. The decibel threshold at which a human will experience pain sits around 130 as well, meaning that, if unprotected, one’s hearing could incur some pretty serious damage from just a small level of exposure to even a single F1 race car. 

Even though this might sound high on its own, F1 engines used in the past have vastly exceeded their modern counterparts; the F1 V12, the loudest engine that Formula 1 has ever used in their cars, regularly came in at above 150 decibels. During their period of usage, several racetracks around the world were barred from conducting F1 races due to the fact that just the usage of V12 engines violated local noise ordinances and annoyed local citizens, as the noise could be heard from quite far away. V10 engines weren’t much quieter, coming in at around 140 decibels. This level of noise proved to be an issue for F1 as well; during a Belgian Grand Prix involving V10 engines, the whole tournament was at risk of losing its F1 contract due to the rampant and excessive level of noise being issued from the cars on race day. 

Interestingly, the noise reduction that has come with modern F1 cars has been received quite poorly from fans who were following the league in the V12 and V10 days. Having become so accustomed to the ear-splitting roar of the old engines, some fans have found the modern V8 to be disappointingly tame in comparison.

How Loud is 130 Decibels?

Though it might objectively seem like quite a high number on its own, it can be a bit hard to figure out exactly how loud 130 decibels is without a bit of context. In general, it is agreed that any noises over 70 decibels can damage one’s hearing over a given amount of time, while sounds below 70 decibels are usually safe under all circumstances and exposure levels. The level of ambient noise in a full room usually clocks in at around 30-50 decibels. A jackhammer produces around 130 decibels, and a gunshot produces around 140 decibels; knowing this, it’s easy to see just how exceptionally loud an F1 car is as it tears around the track.