When you watch next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, some of what you see and hear on your screens will be being operated by technicians sitting next to an airfield in Kent, collaborating in real time with colleagues 10,500 miles away.
This is something a little different – the first time we’ve been behind the scenes at F1’s Technical Headquarters in Biggin Hill, in the South of England and we’ve made a video of it with our colleagues from Tata Communications.
As well as much of the equipment needed to put on a Grand Prix at 19 venues around the world, things like the timing systems, communications systems and facilities for race stewards to view incidents on track, Formula 1’s entire TV production facility is based in Biggin Hill; all the cameras, the edits suites, mixing desks and so on. The kit that travels around the world, creating the outside broadcast coverage that you watch at home, is assembled and shipped from Biggin Hill.
But here we get the chance to see the most recent F1 TV innovation – a Remote Operations Centre at the heart of the building from where many functions can be operated remotely, which in the past would have been operated on site. From here they can monitor the programme vision sources and output, many of the formula1.com functions, and even operate robotic track camera heads at the circuit. And for this season all of the Team Radio is going to be managed from here.
“We use a reverse data path to control a trackside robotic camera and this year we intend to migrate the Team Radio operation, the daily news edits and the remote producer’s position into this centre,” says FOM’s Chief Technical Officer John Morrison. “We also provide a number of the website functions here, these include digital still, video edits and data processing.
“(The remote operations centre) allows us to reduce the pressure on travelling staff number and freight.”