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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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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.

Markle SchuMarker

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

Markle SchuMarker

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

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?


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.


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


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.


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



Shame its not world wide! UK are so lucky


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


Nice if we could get it in the USA


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!


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!


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.


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!


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.


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.


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! 🙂


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.


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.


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.


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)?


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.



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?




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.

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