Liberty Media is keen to make Formula One as accessible as possible to as many fans as possible. Unfortunately, F1 is not a sport which can be simplified and if you say ‘cars navigate a circuit as quickly as possible as many times as needed’ you would miss many subtle nuances as well as the technical masterstrokes contained within the beasts of the pinnacle of motorsport. Already, we have striking distance ‘Battle Forecast’ graphics anticipating overtakes and at the previous Grand Prix in Mexico we saw a full implementation of the tyre wear graphics (having made a brief appearance on screen at Suzuka). So, is this graphic generating artificial excitement or is it indeed a necessary requirement for understanding the world of modern Formula 1.
The way this was announced to the world this week was: “The latest in the F1 Insights series, powered by AWS, the graphic will provide an insight into the current condition of any car’s tyres, in terms of relative performance, by analysing timing and telemetry information and estimating lap time lost due to tyres, whilst concurrently calculating the single tyre energies, and provide the viewer with a more accurate understanding of a tyre condition’s effect on performance on the platform.”
Impressive stuff indeed but…do we actually need it?
The grid for The 2019 USA F1 Grand Prix in Austin looks pretty exciting in itself with Valtteri Bottas on pole in a quest to see how many cars he can keep between himself and 5th placed Lewis Hamilton so as to ensure the title goes to another circuit before being decided.
During today’s Grand Prix, (and the foreseeable future), this revolutionary ‘Tyre Performance’ graphic will provide detailed real-time information on the current condition for all four individual tyres on a chosen car, presented as a percentage value on a scale between ‘new tyre with no wear’ (100%) and a ‘used tyre’ at the end of its effective performance lifespan (0%).
The History books relish in celebrating F1 from the past and despite the fact that Jaques Villeneuve may have recently claimed that F1 has never been better than it is now – there are many who would disagree and complain that it is becoming too much like a computer game. As previously reported, there are some drivers annoyed by a bumpy circuit in Austin…but not Daniel Ricciardo.
I am not sure whether the majority of race fans want ‘an insight into key race moments as well as a longer term view on tyre management.’ I am quite sure the majority of the fans want to see close racing and enjoy looking at the center of the screen for the action as opposed to the right of the screen for the graphic. For this we can hopefully find salvation in the form of the 2021 regulations announced this week as this could be the real game changer. So many people hope these regulations will further show that F1 is not simply a real life computer game. 2021 has such mystery: No one knows how the cars will respond, no one knows what designs the budget cap will lead to and if we are honest… no one wants to know.
Sport must be unpredictable otherwise what is the point in watching it.
A viewer should want to have surprises and be caught out otherwise, with the growing use of graphics and technology what next? Will we see golf start having holographic imagery outlining the direction of the ball to the public at the course? Perish the thought.
Sport survives based on its popularity. But, as we learnt this week, the F1 drivers do not mind if their car is several seconds slower in 2021 than at present as long as it brings wheel to wheel racing. Therefore, we should not mind the occasional extra graphic onscreen as F1 endeavours to capture a wider audience ready for the future.