F1 Racing (UK) - - CONTENTS - JAMES ALLEN @Jame­sal­lenonf1 face­­ing­mag

James Allen on di­rect­ing your own F1 TV cov­er­age

One of the re­al­i­ties of mod­ern sport and en­ter­tain­ment is the way that fans want to cus­tomise their ex­pe­ri­ence. That trend is only set to deepen.

This goes back to some­thing for­mer Fer­rari F1 team prin­ci­pal Ste­fano Domeni­cali ob­served, that the younger gen­er­a­tion want to be ‘pro­tag­o­nists’ not pas­sen­gers. You only have to look at the rise of the ‘selfie’ cul­ture for proof of that.

But as a viewer, how much con­trol can you have over the way you con­sume a For­mula 1 Grand Prix, for ex­am­ple? Yes, you can have a sec­ond screen open with the F1 app giving you ba­sic tyre data and lap times, or you can fol­low the teams on Twit­ter, but how much fur­ther could you go?

Ross Brawn and his team at F1 be­lieve that there’s a huge amount of un­tapped po­ten­tial and he has in­stalled Roberto Dalla, who for­merly headed Mag­neti Marelli’s mo­tor­sports op­er­a­tion along­side Rodi Basso (now at Mclaren Ap­plied Tech­nolo­gies).

Both men are work­ing on the in­ter­sec­tion of sport, data and en­ter­tain­ment. Dalla has his hands on the levers as far as F1’s rich data are con­cerned.

At F1, they have ac­cess to all kinds of data points from the ob­vi­ous things like tim­ing feeds, live broad­cast feeds, team ra­dio, au­dio, GPS po­si­tion­ing as well as less ob­vi­ous ones like his­toric data. Imag­ine be­ing able im­me­di­ately to com­pare a sit­u­a­tion, such as Vet­tel try­ing to pass Bot­tas at Bu­dapest, ev­ery time that has hap­pened over the past three years, with the var­i­ous out­comes.

There’s a trea­sure trove of data that the teams hold too; again the ob­vi­ous ones like how the cars are be­hav­ing, cor­ner speeds, gears, steer­ing an­gles, lat­eral G force and so on. These can be worked on to cre­ate cus­tomis­able feeds for fans, to en­hance their en­joy­ment of the racing. In Moto GP for ex­am­ple, there is a whole strand of at­ten­tion on the lean an­gle the bikes get down to, with Marc Mar­quez no­to­ri­ous for de­fy­ing grav­ity, his el­bows and even shoul­ders touch­ing the ground.

Fans in­ter­ested in strat­egy can imag­ine how data on tyre per­for­mance and gaps be­tween com­peti­tors could be turned into a real-time so­cial me­dia run­ning com­men­tary on strat­egy op­tions. This isn’t hap­pen­ing at the mo­ment but it’s in the next wave of in­fo­tain­ment that the team at F1’s broad­cast op­er­a­tions in Big­gin Hill are work­ing on. There is also in­ter­est­ing hu­man data avail­able like driver and pit crew bio­met­rics, data points that are of­ten hid­den away from view, but which make the ac­tion more ac­ces­si­ble and bring the fans closer to the sport.

I helped launch a crowd­sourc­ing ini­tia­tive around this dur­ing the Bri­tish GP week­end with Brawn and Lewis Hamil­ton. En­tries closed at the start of Au­gust and the re­sults will be an­nounced at the US Grand Prix in Austin in Oc­to­ber. The win­ner gets a US$50,000 cash prize and a be­hind-the-scenes ex­pe­ri­ence in Austin, and also the chance to have his or her winning idea in­cu­bated and pro­to­typed in the F1 R&D cen­tre pos­si­bly to be­come part of its cov­er­age of F1.

“This ini­tia­tive is to say to the fans ‘what do you as a mod­ern F1 fan really want to see?’” says Brawn. “‘What’s the menu that you want, to en­hance your view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and your im­mer­sion in F1?’ Give us those ideas and we’ll take them and make them a re­al­ity. The win­ner of this com­pe­ti­tion will see that idea grow, and see that idea ex­pand and be­come part of the port­fo­lio of things the fan can en­gage with.”

The chal­lenge, which is a three-way joint ini­tia­tive be­tween F1, Mercedes AMG Petronas Mo­tor­sport and Tata Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, has opened up F1’s con­ver­sa­tion with highly en­gaged users, es­pe­cially from the IT pro­fes­sional world, who have been the ones to en­ter so far.

There is scope to open it up in fu­ture to fans of all lev­els of tech­ni­cal abil­ity, recog­nis­ing the trend to­wards sports fans look­ing for cus­tomised ex­pe­ri­ences.

“There’s a new mind­set, a new phi­los­o­phy of how we present For­mula 1,” Brawn adds. “Keep what’s really good about it, make sure we never alien­ate the tra­di­tional fan, but en­gage the new fans with dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies they can get in­volved with and they have op­tions to pick what they need.”

The key is iden­ti­fy­ing which are the data points that will cut through and work in a crowded and busy sto­ry­telling en­vi­ron­ment, to cre­ate an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. The chal­lenge then is to find the best visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion in or­der to per­son­al­ize the con­tent be­ing con­sumed and im­prove fans’ en­joy­ment and un­der­stand­ing of the sport.

It didn’t work when F1 tried the dig­i­tal su­per­sig­nal TV feed in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but that’s be­cause it was ahead of its time. Back then view­ers just wanted to watch a TV feed made by an ex­pert direc­tor.

To­day, it’s a dif­fer­ent world.

For­mula 1’s ex­ist­ing vast amounts of data could be utilised to im­prove the view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

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