THE TELEGRAPH, 11.03.2015

Alain Prost talks noise

By Andrew English

With the new Formula One season kicking off in Australia this weekend, we ask the four-time F1 World Champion about noise - or the lack of it.

What did you think of last yearís criticisms of the noise from the new V6 turbo Formula One engines?
It was for sure a disappointment for me. Not the noise itself, but the fact the fans of Formula One were very disappointed. It means that the noise was more important for them than the improvement in technology. When you think that for the same power you have 30 to 40 per cent less fuel consumption, well, normally people are interested in that sort of technology. They are curious about it and wondering if it can be transferrable to their road cars. So now they of course are interested in the show and the fight between the drivers, but not so much in the technology which has completely changed and that was disappointing for me. But I think the noise was an excuse to say: ĎOK, we are not happy about Formula One today. We want to have something a little bit differentí. I was expecting something a little bit different from this.

But you are an ambassador for Formula E, which is a battery-electric formula without any engine noise. How does that go down with fans?
That is a good example. I remember the first meetings when we asked can we add noise on the electrical cars? But we donít want to have Formula E cars with the noise of something else, a petrol engine for example. In fact the noise [in Formula E] is not a problem because you have no reference. In Formula One you are maybe thinking about the past, and the noise of other cars. In Formula E you have a different sort of noise, with the turbine sound of the motor and the tyres. Itís different, but good.

Should something be done about the noise of Formula One cars?
I was in Monza last year and with the Italian fans and they were really disappointed and going off to watch the GP2 because they wanted the better noise. Thatís something you cannot avoid and you have to be respectful of these types of fans. On the other side, everybody is complaining about too much noise in their lives, so you also have to have that in mind. Maybe we are not a great example. If I drive a turbo, non-turbo, wing car or any kind of car, I just want to win and get the best out of the car and am not really caring about the noise. But we have to be respectful of the fans. I still think that the complaints about noise are really an excuse, though. There are many, many parameters that we need to fix in Formula One to attract more fans and attract young people. Noise is not the biggest thing.

So what was it like to drive some of the noisiest Formula One cars?
It was different and I knew the V8, the V10 and the turbo, they all have a different noise. The only thing I can tell you is that if you are losing an ear plug, which occasionally happened back then, whether it was the turbo era cars, the V8s or the V10, it was exactly the same effect: you were deaf.

And what in your opinion is the best-ever racing engine noise?
There is a different way of answering the question. When I was in the pits at the historical grand prix at Monaco last year, the best thing was remembering the V8, the V10, or the V12, and standing in the garage hearing the Matra, the Ford, the Ferrari starting. I could tell exactly which car it was and in most cases which driver... That was the best thing, for sure.

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Alain Prost-Infopage © by Oskar Schuler, Switzerland