Formula 1 fans have been reassured that the new generation of V6 turbo engines that will be used from 2014 will produce a sound "worthy of F1", as leading figures quashed fears they will rob the sport of some of its attraction.
Following claims from Bernie Ecclestone and his long-time ally, Australian GP promoter Ron Walker, that the new 1.6-liter engines will be a turn-off for spectators, one leading engine guru revealed that details of the planned regulations show they will be every match for the current power-units.
Renault's engine technical director Rob White told AUTOSPORT: "The first thing to say is that whatever engines we have, F1 is going to remain the pinnacle of motor racing.
"The cars are going to be the quickest cars around a closed circuit, and it is not because we are going to be saving fuel and having fuel consumption races that the cars are going to be breaking down or running out of fuel all over the place, or that they are going to be like shopping cars.
"These engines are going to be very loud. They are going to be very high-revving engines."
White said that the way the rules were being framed – especially with a single turbocharger and a single exhaust outlet – ensured that the engines would sound impressive.
"The rules look like they are heading toward a rev limit of 15,000rpm, and the fuel flow limit is intended to drive the operating speed of these engines up toward the upper end of that range, rather than the lower," he added. "There is a detail in the rules that makes it interesting for the engine people to push the rpm up above 10-11,000rpm, where the engines would have perhaps naturally ended up in the previous incarnation of the rules.
"A single turbo has a number of important advantages, the first of which is it allows some of the energy recovery conceptual development work that was under way for the four-cylinder engines to be carried over, because a single turbo would also have a single electrical machine for heat recovery on the exhaust side.
"In addition, a single turbo will join together the six exhaust outlets and have a single tailpipe from the back, so that would tend to make the frequency of the engine note much higher than the frequency note from either a four-cylinder engine or from a V6 with separate exhausts."
"We have all heard F1 engines from different eras making different sounds and I don't think we have ever been disappointed by the sound of an F1 engine going past. These are still going to be very, very high-revving engines – the crankshaft speed has a maximum limit of 15,000rpm – but there are other shafts on this engine going much quicker than that.
"I am absolutely convinced that the engines will make a noise worthy of F1 and be better than some previous generations of F1 engine. The only way to have a sound identical to the current engine would be to have current engines."
Renault Sport's managing director Jean Francois Caubet told AUTOSPORT: "We have had a four-cylinder [powerplant] on the dyno and the sound is nearly the same as the V8 running at 12,000-14,000rpm. With the V6, with one exhaust, the sound will be very good."
Williams chairman Adam Parr thinks it is time that critics of the new engines keep quiet, as he believed unhappiness at the sound was misplaced.
"I don't think it is correct that there is a concern on that," he said. "I think the one thing that we have to be careful about is that if we talk down what we are doing, and why we are doing it, then we are making things unnecessarily difficult.
"What we should all be doing is getting out there and saying why this is such a positive step forward for the sport. It is great for race promoters, great for attracting a new audience. On television it will be just as fantastic as now and there will be a whole new dimension for the sport."
Parr believes the only problem with the V6 plans is that they had not been agreed to a long time ago.
"I am happy with the V6. I wish we had done this 12 months ago," he said. "What I am a cheerleader for is a more environmentally thoughtful, road relevant futuristic technology. I respect the fact that it has to sound great and has to be a great racing engine, and I suspect the V6 will satisfy some critics on that ground.
"But the bottom line is that we will be running all the electric in the pit lane, we will be having the most energy efficient power unit ever created, and that is what really matters. I am thrilled that all the car makers have reached a common situation."