F1 Winter Break
BBC to introduce “Driver Tracker” to live online F1 coverage
BBC to introduce “Driver Tracker” to live online F1 coverage
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Jul 2010   |  12:08 pm GMT  |  104 comments

The BBC is going a step deeper in its live online coverage of F1 with a new animation called a Driver Tracker, to supplement what is available on TV.

This weekend at the British Grand Prix, they are trialing the animation, which will be selectable in the video section at the top of the F1 live page.

It is similar in concept to the 3D track graphic on the Soft Pauer Iphone app, which came out last year. It is supplied by FOM from real timing data at the circuit.

You can track the position of the cars around the circuit, so you don’t have to wait for the world feed to catch up after pit stops, for example, to see whether Rosberg jumped Massa at the stops. You will see it in real time as it happens.

I think it’s a great idea. It works very well on the IPhone and IPad apps and it’s an indispensable compliment to the TV coverage, if you really want to understand what is going on.

The driver tracker option features a top-down circuit map, on which the drivers are identified by colour-coded shapes bearing their standard FOM three-letter abbreviation (ALO, for Fernando Alonso; HAM, for Lewis Hamilton; BUT for Jenson Button etc). These identifiers move around the track as the cars do, allowing viewers to track the progress of the drivers and the visual gaps between them.

After a recent update to its live page, the BBC believes that at least 80% of users are now getting the high-quality video at all times.

BBC is making the Driver Tracker available for this weekend’s British Grand Prix as a trial, with a view to introducing it for the rest of the season.

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Does this have the same UK-only restrictions as the iPlayer, or is it accessable woldwide?


awesome, awesome, awesome.

presumably it'll be geo-locked which is a shame for international fans (without a proxy).


Does anyone know if this will be available outside of the United Kingdom?


It would be fantastic if BBC could extend its coverage worldwide. Here in the States we have a five hour deferred coverage for five European races.


You can get all of the races in the US on Speed live. Including Practice 2 on Friday and qualifying. I actually prefer Speed's commentary team to BBC's, they do a great job.

I'm stuck because I am in Canada and I have to watch them on TSN - picks up the BBC commentary but sometimes they delay and it's not as good as Speed's coverage.

Still - I'd love to be able to subscribe to this stuff from here in Canada.


No you don't get all the races live on Speed TV. They have some deal with FOX Sports which defers broadcast to Sunday noon for five races on the European leg.


I agree, it would be brilliant if the BBC extended their coverage - i miss it when working abroad or travelling. I can't see it happening though.


I've already got an answer from the BBC about this:

I'm afraid our rights to broadcast F1 only covers the UK so this won't be happening.


That is correct. The BBC's contract with FOM is UK only. Sorry


Can you please clarify James; in Australia our race and qualifying coverage is supplied by the BBC however you mention that the BBC's contract with FOM is UK only. Does this mean that it is up to the network in Australia to purchase from the BBC rights to this additional online content?

If this is the case could you please mention to One on our behalf to look into this as others have mentioned there are plenty who would subscribe to this? It would be greatly appreciated for those of us who suffer based on our geographic location!

Also a little off topic - do you know who writes the Form Card's for each GP on ITV.com as I would like to see what the odd's are on them tipping someone other than Hamilton or Vettel to win a race!!


Only the commentary comes from BBC, the show is produced by Network 10 in Sydney


I've emailed the BBC. Will update the post when I know the answer


Hi James, can the BBC push for HD? or FOM only is able to make that happen?


Other broadcasters need to push too

Jose Arellano

tell them a LOT of people would be happy to pay for their coverage outside UK


I'm one of those people who would be happy to pay. From what I've seen of the BBC pre-race coverage, post-race coverage, and coverage of practise sessions, it far exceeds what we get in Australia, excluding James' own phone in at some of the races.


Thats a nice little idea. Will have to give it a try this weekend.


Will it be available outside UK?


This is a good and very welcome idea...but since most F1 viewers are usually following the live action on the red button why not have this feature on the BBC red button as well?


As most people have 40 inch plus tvs why not just have it in top right corner or something. Dont think the mrs will be happy hogging both the tv and laptop.


Brilliant! The app its also now available for android phones but it's £20 and I didn't want to spend that for just the 2nd half of the season.


Cool! A great complement to the live timing screen provided on the 'official' F1 site.


Thats amazing...cant wait!!!!!!

really 🙂



Hey James, you should repost that video with yourself and Martin walking around the new sections of the Silverstone track.


Looking forward to that, should add a lot to understanding of what is going on. Although I think I'm going to need a further screen to display everything soon 😉


Yes, I think I'll tear down the mini bar and convert it into a pit wall with laptops for the Live Timing, Driver tracker and McLaren race 1.1b


Wonderful Idea, Great way to know how positions will be shuffled during a pit stop or during an incident. Will it be available online for non UK based viewers too? or will we get a message "for UK based users only"

perhaps like the live timing bit on Formula1.com?


Can't help thinking we will need at least two TV's next to

each other to watch the races.


Where? how? can we try? any link?


Oh dear I'm going to need three streams going now then! One for the proper commentary from 5Live, one for the timing from forumla1.com and now the beeb as well for the position graphic.

We on freeview were forced to listen to Leggard again last race because the Ant and Croftie commentary on 5Live was suddenly turned into football. I am just waiting for Leggard to say "and it's Hamilton now from Button, and Alonso is coming up on the wing, Webber is charging through, on the other wing passes Button, coming up on Hamilton, Hamilton goes left, Webber sidesteps him and ....its a goal!


I have to admit, the BBC's coverage of F1 has been fantastic. I love the fact that if I miss the race, I can watch it again on iPlayer, the fact that i can interact with the coverage by social media feeds, and it does feel vibrant and fresh. When it left the BBC, ITV did add something to it - a studio presence and a full programme, rather than just sandwiched between other Grandstand slots. But the BBC Sports coverage as a whole is on another level. I can't wait to try this out


Not before time - this is long overdue!

The ipad app is good but not that smooth so I hope this will be gps guided and not by timing sectors?

The other bonus is its free!

Well done BBC - again!


This would be great with a pciture in picture option too on the digital tv channel.

Looks like i need to get an iphone or ipad then, have been resisting it for a while.

Unless there is something for a Nokia E71


The app is available on Android now as well, so you can enjoy it on some proper hardware 🙂


Try m.formula1.com you should be able to get a live timings app although I had trouble getting it to work all the time. Have upgraded to an iPhone now and have f1 apps galor!



Yes i have the timing from fom but i havent seen a track overlay with the drivers positions.

Maybe the bbc one will work on a mobile to...


i liked the ghost camera that was at some GP's what happened to that? It was cool to look at other drivers lines in corners..

This is cool too though..


I agree, it's a shame FOM didn't persist with that idea.


It was very cool, but they wasted it by doing silly things like showing the ghost of someone on an in-lap over the top of someone else taking the corner at proper racing speed.


I miss those ghost car comparisons too. I think it was FOM rather than the BBC that showed them though


It's very disappointing that FOM havn't taken this on and made GPS tracking available with the live timing on F1.com. Once again FOM is lagging behind technology.

James, have you considered expanding the hugely successful FOTA Fan Forum to run a FIA/FOM Fan Forum? Something like this would be a great oppertunity for the fans, the consumers, to understand and question the FIA & FOM on their approach to 'the show' for example.


Sound good al we need now is HD, Eurosport have F2 WTCC and SBK all in HD so there shouldn't be any excuses .


Unfortunately, the reason why there is no HD broadcast of F1 isn't due to the BBC, it's instead due to FOM not making the footage available in HD in the first place. I'm unsure as to whether there are any genuine logistical problems, or if FOM are just not too keen on embracing HD due to the (undoubtedly) huge cost of upgrading all their cameras and associated broadcasting equipment.

From what I read on Autosport, the earliest we can expect Formula 1 in HD is 2012: http://www.autosport.com/features/article.php/id/2875 (Subscription required)


You'd think they'd be no excuses but you're forgetting Bernie is cheap! He's said we have to wait until at least 2012 for HD. Does he not realise you've got to invest in the fans? We're the ones that keep the sport going after all!


Bernie's not cheap he's very expensive 😉 I guess the broadcasters haven't yet made him the offer he wants for an HD feed!


Fantastic, this is what i've been waiting for to complete the coverage. I watch the race on the telly with the Formula 1 live timing site and the BBC on board feed in a small window on my laptop. Should be able to squeeze this on the screen too. Although the timing screen is great to see whose close, being able to see where they are on the track will be even better.

Lets hope they make it permanent.



I already have one main tv, for world feed then another small tv for on board, and my laptop for live timing and chatting to friends.

All out of screens now, lol..

I shall have to fit it in somewhere.


A little ironic then, that we were talking about carbon emission reduction in F1 only a few days back. The availability of the various feeds necessary for the enthusiast means that the home viewer may now be doubling their power usage due to the configuration of the data feeds.

If Bernie could let the BBC have the data in the right format we could view it all on tv; or at least let the FOM website show the positional data as well as the timing.

Presumably this weekend the bbc F1 Forum will be safe from having the plug pulled on it halfway through, by disgruntled locals.


Its good, but I have been expecting helmet cameras for a while. Does anyone knows why it hasn`t been introduced yet?


Mostly a helmet camera would be rubbish -- wobbling about and vibrating -- as anyone who's driven a single seater at speed knows. Look on the in-car footage at the driver's helmets. It works on bikes because you've nowhere else to put the camera high up and there's a bit less buffeting because the helmet is directly in the airflow, whereas in a car the airflow is constantly being influenced by the cockpit sides and the like.


I would guess safety concerns, like the possibility of the camera damaging the helmet if it takes an impact. Don't think I've seen them in any form of racing, car or bike, so maybe there are FIA and FIM rules against them.


James, I think the BBC are doing really well at the moment with their coverage, the Forum is great (when it works) EJ is funny, DC is normally quite good (aside from his 'A-Class' 'B-Class' rubbish) and Brundle is a Legend... You probably know where I'm going with this; when will the BBC dump Leggard?

I think the way you have facilitated bringing the fans and FOTA together is great.. Can you know do the same with us and the BBC?

Perhaps do two polls, 1. Should he stay or go 2. Who should replace him (don't forget your name on the list).

I honestly think if he went, you got your old job back (but make sure you keep this one as well) the coverage would be amazing.


I hope it can be shrunk down, rather than a fixed size, because then I can make it half the size of the screen, and the other half for live timing.

Thomas, Canada

This will be great if we can access outside of UK.

James, off topic, you are now the 'leader' with other journo's following:


Keep up the great work.


finish channel mtv3 have had this feature on there website for every session since the start of the season along with the onboard feed which bbc only show for the race.

a nice addition to the bbc coverage 🙂


This is a nice touch from the BBC, however could be better.

I was watching the Indycar race from Watkin's Glen on Sunday using their race control feature on their website and they are able to give almost real-time positions and gaps through updating the timing data provided from the GPRS almost 5 times a lap.

This means fans can see straight after a pit stop if a driver has stayed ahead or if a driver has over taken another car out on the track way before us F1 fans get to find out as our timings are the results of an end of a lap not real time.

I would be great if that could be integrated in to to the TV graphic's or current Live timing website.


There is an iPhone/iPod Touch app that combines live timing and track position - but it isn't cheap.


I think the idea of this is great but, alas, will not be able to use it! Unfortunately, I am never able to sit down and watch a race live - always record and then watch on a Sunday evening (oh what fun it is avoiding all news for the rest of the day so it doesn't spoil the result!).

What would be great is if such innovation's could be available as a video stream via iPlayer allowing, to a certain extent, the ability to run alongside a recorded programme.

Even better, if a PVR could also simultaneously record red button content alongisde the main broadcast, allowing the ability to switch during playback.

Oh yes, and throw in HD for next season, whilst you are at it and everything will be wonderful!


Oh wonderful...now I'm going to need a third monitor to display this - along with the race and the FOM timing data...either that,or a laptop dedicated to one or the other.

More seriously - it's great that the BBC are supplying this, but I'd quibble with the stats about high quality video - I've got good broadband, but the live race quality is always a little suspect, it's always far better watching on iPlayer later, and with more contention on the data feed now, it can't be good for the streaming quality. I wish there could be one app that did both the lap/Sector times and the Driver Tracker from the one FOM feed - I've got processing power and RAM to spare


I don't doubt this is a positive move, but all i want is the R5L commentary option back on my freeview options for qualy and race day. Haven't been able to get it since last year, apart from one or two qualy sessions. The 5Live team are much better than Mr Legard, and Martin has days when he sounds uninterested. I've tried watching the tv feed with the sound off and radio on, but it aint the same and they are 2-3 seconds adrift!


What does Bernie think? He'll lose some of the £5.99 it costs for the iPhone app.


That price is for last year's app - which as far as I am aware can not be used this year!

The 2010 app costs closer to £20, and as far as I am aware is only useful for this season.


The official F1 app is free, it's the one that shows a bit more detail that costs a bucketload.


James (or anyone),

do you know if you'd need live timing in addition to this great piece innovation?

I mean, does it also give live timing / sector times?

if it did it could blow all other similar services away.

can't wait to try this out.


Timing, timing, timing!

The beeb try out something radical, but the most hard-core fans won't be able to use it. Why? Because we'll be there!

Anyway, I agree that all these "extras" are only useful if you're watching live. Record it on a PVR (or even pause the live TV for 30 seconds), and you can't get any of the red-button extras (such as Crofty's commentary) or any of the data-oriented stats such as this one, or the formula1.com feed.

If only someone would provide the datafeeds in a "replay" format, which you can start in sync with a recording.


Some should be able to follow it on their mobiles!


This is just the kind of innovation the fans like and want - and exactly the sort of thing we were asking about at the Forum last week. Well done the BBC. Can't wait for the weekend to try it out.


A step in the right direction... 🙂 We shall see how accurate and reliable it is... I'm expecting a massive BBC server melt-down 😉

If reliable, it'll mean that I don't have to commentate to friends n family who currently get lost within Legard's attempts at commentary and thus need me to explain the situation - I can just point at the DriverTracker!


A great idea, but I'd echo the thoughts of others above, I hardly ever watch the race live (sorry but I have better things to do with my Sundays) so am not able to use the live timing screens or this new app.

What would be great (and I'm sure will happen at some point in the future) is if it was possible to not only record the BBC1 feed, but also all the red button options etc so that when watching it back you were still able to make the most of them...


Apparently if you buy the iTunes App you can download the race details and then see the lap times, etc. updated whenever you watch the race. I can not confirm this as I have not purchased the App.


I do watch a lot of them live, but I also put it on Sky + as well, which is good to having another look at the interesting bits.


Hi James,

I'm developing a service called Kwwika that allows anybody to add real-time data to a website, Rich Internet Application, desktop application or any service application. I'd love to get hold of this real-time data and distribute it to people through Kwwika so that they can build cool and engaging applications.

A really simple example is that somebody could build a widget to display the live positions of all the drivers that anybody could embed on their own website.

Any idea how I can get hold of this data?




The driver tracker sounds good, real telemetry data would be a good next step. I don't mean tyre pressures and all that, just the overlay they sometimes show on the in-car cameras (tacho, brakes, g-force, etc).

Having the option to see that on-demand or compare them would be great especially with KERS coming back next year, would be good to see how and when people use it.



The more info we can get at the better the experience in my view. I love all of the information we can see these days, and the BBC coverage and multi camera red button stuff is good.


on a totally unrelated note, I see Robert is confirmed with Renault for two more years. Great move for him, they really seem to have their acts together and its a different situation for him from BMW.

Are the stories about BMW pulling the plug on a push for the title true when Robert was flying a couple of seasons ago (stating that they wanted to go for the WDC next year not this year)?


As several people have already mentioned, this will not be available to ex Pats. Perhaps someone should have a word with FOM and make a seperate feed of things available for us. At least we can see videos on your website, and that is great. Can´t believe it was 60 years ago when I went to my first (and The First) official Formula One Grand Prix. As a 68 year old woman, I don´t add posts very often, but I must say that your website, James, is the one I click onto every day now, as it is the most informative and the most interesting. So thank you.


Intresting addition. I'll proberly test it out for Practice (If Avaliable) but I use my PC monitor to display the OnBoard channel during the race which will likely be more immediately usefull alongside my TV displaying the world feed.

Would be great if the BBC would use the OnBoard channel for Practice. Its great for the race but I've always felt it would be more usefull during practice which tends to be when FOM put some of the more intresting camera shots on it. When we get it for the race FOM tend to stick with the traditional forward/rear facing T-Cam shots but in Practice they often use the other shots they have more.


Feels like I'm the opposite to many here, I'd never consider recording a sporting event and watching it. Sport always has to be live for me, with other people (either IRL or virtual) so if I miss it, I'd just catch the results and never go back and watch.


James, it's been announced that Nigel Mansell will be on the stewards panel this weekend. He has been openly critical of Hamilton in the past - recently also, do you think it's fair to have non-impartial ex-drivers on the panel? And do you think Mansell's opinion on drivers will affect the decisions he may have to make this weekend?

The very fact I, and other fans, will be questioning this surely is bad for the credibility of the sport.


Mansell is not critical of Hamilton; he's critical of the way Hamilton has been manufactured and he thinks Hamilton's battle to the front has been not as tough as it was for him.

I don't think for a minute that Mansell will be anything but scrupulously fair.


get over yourself will you!! My god what is it with some F1 fans whether they're Hamilton fans Alonso, Schumacher or whoever but you're just soooo sensitive to anything someone says which might be slightly less than 100% in agreement with your own view! Get a life for goodness sake. Look Nigel Mansell is entitled to an opinion and just because he isn't a sycophantic Hamilton fan doesn't mean he is non-impartial!


I can imagine Alonso thinking the same! 🙂


This is nice addition, but sadly it should have been introduced years ago. Without any excuses, F1 is really lagging behind in terms of coverage quality.

It's only the hard core passion of fans that keeps the F1 alive.

And then they want to "spice up the show" to appeal to laymen. F1 either has hard core fans, or occasional weekend observer. Nothing in between in a form of regular football fan.


we did have stuff like this years ago. we had the digital ppv service which sadly failed.


Sounds fantastic. I'll have to look at this over the weekend.

Now I really do NEED a laptop to complement my F1 viewing!!

We just need F1 in HD and I'm a happy bunny.


Well, its about time!

I realize it would be too... "uncouth" I suppose, for Bernie et al to watch a little American tv.

But they really should, just so they can see what is actually possible.

We have watched this sort of thing for years, in American LeMans and Rolex sportscar series, in NASCAR and IndyCars - even in the old Champcar series they had stuff like this. Hell, I've even see in-car cameras in*dirt track races!

Get with the program, Bernie!


Just about on topic....

Does anybody know why all the driver 3-letter codes are the first letters of their surname (MAS, ALO, BUT, etc.) except Michael Schumacher?

Why is he different? There wouldn't be a clash with SCH. It's not like Ralf is going to make a return too 😉

It shouldn't bother my tiny brain, but it narks me!



That has had me wondering all season long too.

I came to the conclusion, as you pointed out, that Ralf would have the same 3 letters SCH. I can only guess that Ralf might still have a Super Licence and because of that they gave Michael his own unique 3 letters.

Open to other ideas.....


I believe it is because the Germans were penalized a letter by the Treaty of Versailles.


Superb - it's something that's been clearly lacking, being an uber geek I like having the timing wall application on my laptop in front of me while watching the TV, helps to understand things plus the text commentary is handy if stepping away from the TV for a few minutes. But I've always felt the live car tracking would add a lot to the experience - certainly wasn't prepared to pay the rediculous iphone/ipad app prices, and staring at your iphone is far from ideal anyway! Full marks to the BBC!


This is great from the BBC an excellent addition

Just needs HD now....by Spa?


I think we're looking at the 2012 season for HD!


Nice if we could get it in the USA


will it have SC=safety car in order to see hamilton overtakes?



Shame its not world wide! UK are so lucky


It's completely absurd that it has been left up to an individual broadcaster to introduce this. It is a feature that should have been available through the official F1 site in conjunction with their live timing. It is different than the BBC doing extra by putting video streams of practice sessions etc on the net, this is data that is already available. It's a bit of an insult I reckon, and a cynical person might think that FOM are still only paying lip service to fans


Now I am going to need 2 laptops to watch the race.

One for the live timing and now one for this.

My sofa is going to be like the pitwall soon.


Great, but really should be part of the formula1.com live timing page!


Is this definately happening this weekend?

Theres been nothing at all on the BBC website and the people who run the iPhone app twitter page seemed to doubt this.

Markle SchuMarker

I can't see anything on the BBC F1 homepage, maybe it will appear when qualy acually gets under way. Anyone got any news?

Markle SchuMarker

Still can't see it. Neither can the twitterverse. Is it only working tomorrow?

Markle SchuMarker

Thinking about it, does it even have any real use in qualy?


I love the BBC F1 coverage, but I have to say the website is taking it's toll on me. "Mclaren upbeat about Singapore hopes". This has been the headling newstory for the site fr the last four days. I don't want to start a rant, but it seems to me that there is an awful lot of things going on in between races, when the website editor seems to be on holiday. Am I alone on this one? As I said, I love the TV coverage.

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