There are still a few days to go until the closing date for the first of the three “F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize” challenges and already thousands of people have gone to the Competition Website to check out the rules and a good number have made an entry.
The first challenge is to demonstrate new and insightful information that can be derived from Formula One Management’s live data timing pages and to propose how this new information could be visually packaged in order to add suspense and excitement to the audience experience.
The competition, backed by Tata Communications, Formula One Management and Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, is to encourage F1 fans who want to get closer to the sport and engage in some behind the scenes real world F1 issues.
The ultimate prize is a cash award of $50,000 and there are further prizes, which will see the winners go behind the scenes at next year’s Monaco Grands Prix.
There is a lot that can theoretically be predicted from crunching the numbers of the timing data from Free Practice, qualifying and the race. The Free Practice in particular is very useful for predicting what will happen in the race; all the team strategists use the information they get from Free Practice 2 and the long runs to set their strategies for Sunday’s race, for example.
Part of the challenge invites people to find a way to present the lime time data in a different way, to package up the crucial information on a single screen, ideally, which works for media and teams at the track as well as fans all over the world.
Something I’d love to see as a live broadcaster, for example, is a screen which overlays information from the timing pages on track temperature and other weather conditions with the lap times to see trends there. I’d also love to see something that has a fuel consumption value per lap set, and which therefore shows the cars’ actual pace and tyre degradation in real time. I think a lot of fans would like that too, especially the ones who like to second guess the strategies and see if they can do better than the teams!
One reader, NZ Idol, gave this thoughts on what might work well in this competition:
“Even with just these basic pieces of information you can do some interesting calculations, just adding the 3 fastest individual sectors of a driver gives you a theoretical fastest lap. Collecting a series of lap-times when they do a tyre run is one aspect but if you let the user add the expected fuel use per lap and the expected fuel weight penalty you can get more insight in the real tyre deg by doing a simple calculation.
If you look into the actual protocol file it is very optimized to display a screen of laptimes, it is not a complete record of actual cars passing actual control lines, so part of any solution should be a redesign of this protocol to get something smarter but still allow for unstable connections and minimal server load.
But when you make the assumption the message timestamp is closely related the actual time the car passed the timing line you can easily calculate the distance between 2 drivers and understand why a specific lap may not be representative of actual performance. When you have those distances between drivers you can create the screen that the teams use to see where you enter the traffic after a pit-stop and if an undercut could work. Seeing if you can make better strategic decisions as the teams is half the fun of watching the timing screens. Yes GPS would add more actual detail and precision but you would need a lot more bandwidth to send all the data. When you have the 3 sector times and the track information with expected corner and top speeds you can estimate position on track and generate an animation.
Another aspect is converting the time into percentages of the fastest lap (the one’s JA provides after the race) to understand tyre deg but also getting an understanding of how the cars evolve through the season, not just at a single race.
What we probably really need is a team “0″ at every race that has the same facilities as the other teams but collects data for the community, and a few open source projects to visualize the information throw in some social media channels and you create a great following in no time.”
JA writes: There are some interesting ideas here, but we need to be careful, because there is also a wrong assumption about car data; the rules make it clear this is about timing data, not car data. If you start adding in car data then the thing becomes overly complicated for a competition such as this. That’s not to say that won’t come in the future, but it’s not for today.
I like his idea of “getting an understanding of how the cars evolve through the season, not just at a single race” – this is called “trending”, and it charts the evolution of performance of a car through a season and would be really interesting to have at one’s fingertips via the timing screen or on the F1 app.
For example, Ferrari were 1.27% off the pace of the Mercedes in Bahrain, but for the last two races they have been 0.76% and 0.78% off Mercedes, showing a clear (improving) trend.
Entries for the first challenge close at 16-00GMT on Friday 18th July