Insight: Real time gaming against Live F1 racers “only two years away”
Start Malaysia 2016
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Oct 2016   |  11:42 pm GMT  |  56 comments

The prospect of F1 fans being able to race in the virtual space live alongside drivers taking part in a Grand Prix is only two years away, according to Formula 1’s Chief Technical Officer.

The limitation is the accuracy of the GPS positioning of the car on the race track; currently it is accurate to around 200mm, and the goal is just 10mm.

John Morrison was speaking in Austin at the Grand Final of the F1 Connectivity Innovation prize (FCIP), Formula 1’s crowdsourcing challenge, which this year was won by Datu YogaBrata from Singapore. He scooped the trophy and $50,000 top prize, presented by Lewis Hamilton, one of the judges.


“We launched our virtual Grand Prix channel this year, which gives us the platform to produce a fully virtual version of the race live using the data,” said Morrison. “The thing we have to crack is we have to produce accurate positioning.

“Then we can do the gaming stuff and you can be in the car racing against other drivers. I reckon we are about two years away from that. We need accuracy to the nearest centimetre, so cars aren’t touching when they shouldn’t be touching. Right now we are more at 100-200mm accuracy.

I want fans to have a really immersive experience to get very close to the action. We are nearly there now.”

John Morrison

Morrison added that F1 is set to be the first major sport to use 4k; they have carried out proofs of concept and the application to the coverage of F1 is imminent.

This year’s FCIP involved two challenges; one set by Formula One Management and the other by Mercedes F1 team and both were based on how virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) could enhance the Formula 1 experience for fans and help an F1 team to more effectively between the staff at the factory and the race track.

Speaking about the effectiveness of the FCIP as a crowdsourcing challenge Morrison said that the team that won the prize two years ago is now working behind the scenes on a project for F1 Management. “They are designing our interactive onboard application at the moment. We meet the people and put the ideas into practice,” said Morrison.

In the last three seasons, more than 200,000 fans have engaged in the competition through its website, with ideas submitted from 14 countries. JA on F1 readers have a good record in the competition; several of the challenge winners have come from among our readers and the 2015 overall winner Paul Clarke is a JA on F1 reader.

“This competition is unique because it brings in ideas that actually can work, that we can take seriously,” said Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe. “And one way or another they will feed in to the way we shape the sport. It is the most technical sport and that’s what makes it so attractive to so many fans; that depth around the driving, the teams and the technical aspect.


Datu YogaBrata’s idea was to use VR technology and 360 cameras to empower a roaming commentator role, able to provide insightful cameos from various parts of the race track and pits to give fans an immersive experience of all aspects of race weekend activity.

Datu YogaBrata said, “There’s no bigger or more powerful showcase for technological innovation than F1, and VR and AR will push the excitement of the sport even further. My idea aims to capitalise on that by bringing fans closer to the exciting world of F1 than ever before. I’m thrilled that the judges saw the potential of my virtual trackside experience for fans.”


Virtual Reality has begun to be developed and requires several components; clearly key among them is good rich content, which F1 provides, then there is the technology to take it to all corners of the world and then there is the hardware to serve it up.

The plan for F1 would be to give fans the opportunity to be at all the crucial places of the circuit and to experience what is going on, giving them to be at the heart of the action. F1 is about entertainment and many fans will want to watch the main feed, but the VR option provides an opportunity to dip in and out of the deeper immersion into the experience. It is more of a qualitative experience.

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200 mm accuracy atm? In agriculture we have been using Real Time Kinematics (RTK) for years with sub 2 cm accuracy (can be to 1 cm accuracy a lot of the time)


A very short-sighted vision of the future… if it is good enough to realistically pseudo compete against the full grid (btw. what grid slot would you be given?) then it will be good enough to generate a complete virtual F1 without any real-world environment and with genuine racing between the full virtue grid. And better still can have an extra two spot available for the weekend to be won by ordinary members of the public so active engagement.

In short, technology is more likely to be the death knell of F1 than saviour


As an F1 fan, techie and gamer, this does sound like something that would work in future. iRacing and Project Cars are both getting better all the time and offer actual prize money for online series already. Once they add VR or AR to this it takes on a new level of immersion.

Recently I have watched the Formula E e-racing on Ginx TV where fans raced virtually with several Formula E drivers – it was carnage and very dirty racing with no damage to cars virtually. But the lucky fans seemed over joyed to have been doing it. Can you imagine Formula 1 drivers doing this?

Watching Redbull TV and the final of the Global Rally Cross World championship, you can see what appeals to a younger audience. Fast, chaotic, racing in technical machines over very short intense races. It looks like a racing game! Even the Show was fast paced with small podcast type clips and superficial info.

Those of us watching for 20 years or more are not the long term future, Young members of my team regularly bet on CSGO and other E-sports. But they also bet on non mainstream sports, like Chinese varsity volleyball or international Bowling! And they usually win because these markets are not well understood by traditional betting companies at the moment. E-sports is making huge money and making superstars of the gamers taking part.

This doesn’t take anything from the need to sort out how F1 can be consumed on any device. The more difficulties put in the path of just watching F1 the more younger, and more casual fans will not interact with or view F1 at all.


Wow. That’s cool. This is what I scribbled a few months ago:


” The prospect of F1 fans being able to race in the virtual space live alongside drivers taking part in a Grand Prix is only two years away “

How about the prospect of bringing F1 live broadcasts back to free-to-air TV…? That might make the sport have more fans and more appeal to advertisers before it disappears up its own virtual backside.


So we’re going to mix Joe Soap in with the F1 field and let them compete. What percentage of the players will even be capable of lapping at anything close to the speed of the backmarkers?
I’m guessing that maybe 0.00001% of players will be able to keep up with a professional F1 driver and that most players will be lapped at least 30 times in a 60 lap race.
I realise that statistically something like 90% of drivers grade themselves as ‘above average’ but in this sort of competition actual reality will take hold. The plain truth is that F1 drivers are special with a skill level far above almost all people who will try to compete.
This will be a fad product as gamers will grow bored with finishing 30 laps behind the winner.


You can give drivers performance boosts, which they can use or not. It’s no different than racing against AI right now. You can can’t beat them, so you lower their difficulty, and it’s still very satisfying to beat them after driving a near perfect race.


So we can’t have easy access to sector times anymore during a race (live timing) but they’re working on this? It’s a huge leap in the right direction but I’m not getting my hopes up.


Brilliant article and perhaps it provides insight in to why Liberty bought F1. Ultimately, there will be no need to run these races at all. Prior races can be simulated and new ones run in virtual reality. “Players” can race their own car and “fans” can watch. Just imagine the cost savings! No car development, engineers, driver/team salaries, freight, etc. F1 would only need to pay for programmers and hardware. As others pointed out, the revenue streams are endless. Monthly subscriptions for a car, add on fees for additional horsepower, fuel, better tires. The more you pay the better odds of winning just like F1 is now. But instead of a handful of drivers and teams, you could bring in thousands – or more. And no more limitations of a single grand prix at one location. You could run hundreds of grand prixs simultaneously all the time! This is genius.


Yeah, right, let’s make F1 fans play games instead of watching a real race, preferably in real world.
What can possibly go wrong?


Anything to take the focus off the actual racing, or lack of..


@ Dmitry…looking forward to someone posting a logical response as i too share that same question?


This would work ok if you got to take control of Lewis’s real car for a few laps of the actual race.
A nice graphic stating ‘Terry from Dartmoor is now driving . Due to his low speed dial up modem the movements may be erratic’


If I could understand what this was all about, I might be able to comment. But I’m just a sad old-timer. There is something wrong, when virtual reality is regarded as more exciting than real reality.


You know, some very smart people after evaluating our world determined that all things follow rules and laws and units and can be broken down to math. Hence perfect for simulation.

So theory goes that if we’re able to do VR as it is today, and within 10 or 20 years it will be as good as reality, we can actually simulate our world, live in a simulation. But what makes you think this wasn’t done already and were perhaps here in this simulation already? Begging the question, is real reality really real? 🙂

Honestly, I always felt the sky was a bit empty. As if to free up bandwidth in the simulation stream and make the simulation easier.


No one is saying it’s more exciting, but it is another level on which to offer the sport to people.


@james…if that is the case then perhaps you could enlighten us all about how they will overcome the points raised in some of the more ‘in depth’ comments? Like how do you have a ‘VR experience at the same time as ‘RR’ is taking place?


This is easy: – Who wears clear glass specs with good eye sight?

A – an actor on a film set

B – Lewis making a fashion statement

C – Both

answers on a post card please


D. Someone who wants to appear more intelligent. It is proven that we think people with glasses are smarter.


@ Phil….I went for ‘C’ . Rumour has it that when zeus wants to look studious he dons the clear glasses to look refined and, dare i say it, bookish! A misguided charm offensive….


if i wanted to play computer games i would, but i don’t, so i don’t.
i want to watch F1 so i do.
To gain and keep viewers we need reality, not unreality. If the competition is good enough there is no need to augment it. Why would i want to pretend to race when i know the two Mercs are going to win? Fix that – the biggest blight on F1 – and you won’t need all this other VR, AR, 4k, 360 stuff.
Please send my $50,000 in unmarked bills to this address….


Are they aware of how niche the appeal of this would be?

There won’t be a lot of interest in competing in a time trial against ghost cars during a live race.


@ matt w…exactement mon ami. Sounds as if the kiddies are in control. F1 is serious racing ‘merde’…let’s not forget that!


This is what they’re suggesting I believe.
It would work if your Codemasters and are wanting to provide online content for F1 2016-17-18 ect after each race and provide gamers with the actual race scenarios however to suggest this is the way of future growth for the sport is ridiculous.
Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong..


Im think about this more, and it’s not sitting right.

I like the idea of the 360′ walk around stuff, that’s all cool. What I don’t really like now is this focus on the “race against real drivers while the race is going on.”

As others have pointed out, this is just PR talk, as there will be no “racing”. You could be “on track” at the same time as the real guys, but they will punt you off with even the slightest of contact, and they won’t even know you were there.

At best, you would be hotlaping against them live, which is still a cool experience don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the same as actually RACING against the real drivers.

Next point, this one bugs me more, is that this whole idea of “racing” against real drivers is some very fancy stuff for an extremely small percentage of the viewing audience, current or projected.

Just think about the cost alone of getting into sim racing….a console or PC, a monitor, a wheel & pedals, and something to hold it all together. That’s about a thousand dollars worth of stuff…

Focus on features that the majority of F1 fans can easily access and enjoy.


I’m liking the sound of some of these ideas. Someone probably already said this somehwere, but I’ve always wanted to watch racing more like how I can watch a replay in a video game.

The main aspect of those kind of replays that I’d like to have is the ability to control what I’m watching. I can select which car I want to follow, and I can scroll through different cameras to watch that car with. If I want cinematic, I can have that, but if I want to see some onboard, I can switch to that when I want, or I can switch to a helicopter shot.

Play/Pause, RW/FF are always welcome, but we kind of have that with most cable already, so that’s pretty basic now. Slow motion and zoom would be pretty cool though….then all us armchair quarterback could really decipher what happened at turn #1!!!

I guess the main goal is to give people the option to be their own program director. It’s impossible for one person to decide what to pick to watch for however many million people watch F1.


@ twith…so how do you do all this and watch the actual race unfold in all its continuity in real time? We already have replays for incidents and slo mo’s as well as onboards from many different angles! Even now it is sometimes a tad disjointed with all these intermittent flashbacks! I fail to see how this so called ‘immersion’ can enhance the race without entering into further distraction?


So let me get this right, the youth of today has an ever shorter attention span and is used to getting things on demand when they want it, and the solution is to make them play a video game durring the most productive content period in F1, the GP? And they have to play that game as the GP is happening live to get the full experience of fair game?

Or should they be roaming with VR camera views around the track so they can miss the action as the GP is happening? Or do GPs with PUs get so boring in 2 years that the VR commentary cameras are more interesting than actual GP? I’m confused. Which one is it?


They do have shorter attention span.
Several years ago (more like 8 years ago), I was stunned when a friend of mine told me that his son (who was 13 years old at the time) never listened entire song from the beginning to the end.
I didn’t believe him, so I asked his son if that’s true….and to my astonishment he confirmed.


The youth of today wants more interactivity; they want to participate. You see this today with video games. Fewer people go to the cinema because they can have their adventures and actually play a role in the drama inside a video game.

Certainly, there will be challenges to overcome, but I think it’s definitely worth pursuing, as is VR and 4K.

The faster, better looking next cars will also help to make the spectacle more spectacular.


The youth of today can consume a few edibles and play Pac-Man. They don’t need this complexity to play a game. And then there is a matter of paying for it.


I sim race against people who don’t follow motor racing, some don’t even have a driver’s licence. If they had a chance to race against real drivers in real time they would. For those people this is the only way to get them to consume F1 content.

Also many of these sim racers have spent tens of thousands of dollars on thei sim racing, and for them spending a few more on a new pice of software, or update is not really an issue.


I’m both a huge F1 fan and a gamer, and I work in the games industry, and this idea of racing against the actual drivers live really sounds like nothing more than a gimmick to me.

I can totally see that they can get the technology to track the cars accurately and push that into a game in real time, that’s definitely doable technically. But the question is why?

Firstly, how many gamers would want to miss out on actually watching the race and seeing the real life drama unfold as they focus on driving their own virtual car instead? Surely it’s much better to watch and enjoy the race for what it is, then play the game in your own time separately against AI or friends, as people do today?

Secondly, how would collisions work? If you’re racing against representations of the real drivers, then they’ll have to be “ghost” cars that you can drive through as they won’t react to you, removing the most exciting element of racing.

Thirdly, how do you match the simulation to reality? Simulators are very accurate these days, but it is still nearly impossible to make the cars in game behave exactly like the cars in real life. The teams don’t even know for sure before getting to the track exactly how fast they’ll be, as so much depends on the condition of the asphalt, the ambient temperatures etc. Not to mention that car performance can vary depending on what parts each team brings, which the teams of course keep a secret, making it impossible for the developers of the simulation to create something 100% accurate. This means the in-game cars will never perform the same as the real life cars, braking points will be different, ideal lines will be different, and the comparison between game players and real drivers will become redundant.

Fourthly, who is the target market? Assuming they solve the above issues and get the simulation precisely right, then that means in order to be in any way competitive, a player would need to be as talented as an actual F1 driver. This cuts out 99.9% of the market, and makes development of such a game financially unjustifiable.


Maybe they will have post race telemetry available, so you can race after you watched the real thing. 🙂
On the other hand, in that case you’d already know some or all of the moves you’ll get from the “real” drivers, given you’re fast enough to be on the same lap with them, which isn’t as fun, as you racing them live.


Finally, how many copies of F1 racing sell each year, and how many will pay double or more to do this sim racing?


Hmmm….could have potential.

I just don’t understand why you would stage an expensive Grand Prix event when the youth would be watching via computer generated graphics from GPS data and missing actual reality of the GP?

I’d rather play the game against Lewis and beat him knowing we were playing on a level field instead of me bragging that I beat real car Lewis with my joystick. You can actually do that now pretty much if you tell yourself the game generated Lewis is “real”. Also, how do you get a Mercedes like car advantage? I don’t want to pay $60 for game, plus service I’m sure they will charge and have to drive a Sauber, know what I mean? Although I’m sure they will find a way to get another $60 out of me for a good car, right?


No worries … Lewis will suffer a real life failure on the start line. You win.


That would be unsatisfying. Like a surrender.

Edge of Adhesion

It’s called pay-to-win and it’s future of gaming. Games like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mobile Strike on mobile have players spending $100s per week on temporary powerups and consumable resources.

I expect people will pay a weekly subscription to be Lewis Hamilton’s virtual team mate. It’s just an expansion of the pay driver model into the virtual space. Do you want good reliability? Hire good virtual mechanics. Shame to pay for a good car in a good team and have it break down on lap 6. Want a cool helmet design? We’ve got some deigned by the drivers right here. Excellent prices. Want a good strategy call? Hire a top virtual strategist for the weekend. Brembo or CI brakes? Don’t know? Pay for a virtual media day with a team to get a feel. As a bonus you’ll get some screenshots for your smartphone lockscreen!

Look at how much the couch commandos spend on CoD for virtual guns and virtual outfits for them to wear on the battlefield.

Want a virtual replica of Lewis Hamilton 2008 McLaren overall? Only £8.99 for a season pass. Want your car to sound like a vintage V10 Ferrari*? £5.99

*Does not effect performance, effect simulated only.


I understand.

But fact it, it’s an expensive way to generate game data that makes the young viewers miss the actual GP – best TV viewing period in F1.

And being used to on-demand I’m not sure kids in crappy F1 time zones are waking up to do this at 3am. And that’s the only way it’s fair. Otherwise I wait till JAonF1 releaes could’ve should’ve analysis and play it that way against the data 2 days later making a pit stop 1 lap before SC happens. Know what I mean?


Yes but you can load it with targeted advertising / virtual track side boards. Better than one size fits all from live footage.


But you won’t miss the GP; you will be in it. Imagine yourself in third place in the third Mercedes watching Lewis and nico having it out just in front of you. And then you can can watch a replay of it form any angle you wish.

The point is: some people are simply not interested in watching F1, and never will be; even if there are a hundred overtakes per race. But there are some who will be interested in F1 if they can participate. Look at the e-sports; its full of people who don’t even have a car in real life and who have never been in a GP but they enjoy competing against other people virtually and who want to go to Paris and get that trophy alongside Lewis.


You wouldn’t really miss it. You would of course have the option of watching the replay of the race, with you in it, or without. You could also control what you see: camera angles, onboards replays etc.

I think that would be cool. Today’s youth love that kind of stuff.


Interesting to see that they’re testing 4k stuff already. I guess it really is a different F1 now compared to when Bernie dragged his feet on the HD conversion cause he didn’t want to spend money on new cameras. (For a while only the Japanese GP was in HD because Fuji provided their own cameras for the race)


Unless the physics engine is 100% accurate (which replicates every aspect of the environment), i.e never, then it’s a pointless exercise.


That’s the problem, no public computer simulation will be able to replicate the small gusts of wind, turbulence from other cars and other random stuff to make it work. Last few times I went to Le Mans there were a group doing their own race on consoles in the campsite, big screen with two projectors and two teams doing driver changes. Started and finished the same time as the actual cars but the computer race did well over 20 more laps than in reality as they had no safety cars, the weather was predictable (was live-linked so it rained at the track and online at the same time but was gradual changes) and no mechanical issues to deal with. Fun but nowhere near what these guys want to acheive.


I’ve been sim racing for nearly 10 years now, so this is a very exciting development for me.

Also F1 has been trying to increase fan involvement and make it more relevant to the younger generations, and this might just do it.

Exciting times ahead.


It sounds a bit odd. How would it work? In order to actually race against someone you need to be able to influence each other. If you touch, one or both of you might go off, or get some sort of damage. But that can’t happen if it’s a mix of virtual and real cars in the same race, unless the real F1 cars have some sort of device that causes damage etc in response to the actions of online drivers. And clearly that’s not going to happen.

How could you even overtake one of the “real” cars? They wouldn’t change their driving style to be more defensive as you approached them, in fact they wouldn’t even know you existed. You couldn’t force your way past as they would just take their normal line.

What about if you happened to be in their way, if you were lapped for instance? They’d just barrel straight into you and punt you off. Because to them you don’t exist.

So the best you’ll get is some sort of regular online racing, with some representations of real F1 cars in there to measure your pace against. You’re not actually racing them.

Just sort out decent online coverage of F1 first, like we should have had in about 2010, before focusing on this sort of trivial nonsense.


also there’s so many different ways they could make it seem that you are racing against the drivers. use ur imagination they could program the artifical intelligence to block or defend or cut back if you don’t feel like driving against a ghost car and then normalise the gaps when u are further apart. I remember Geoff crammonds gp2 had the option of giving players turns to driver if u didn’t have a network to play other players and only one PC in a world where split screens and game pads or steering wheels didn’t exist or where too expensive to afford


true but will any of the real cars be out of the race if you crash into them? will they drive straight through you when they overtake while you’re on the racing line? will there be a delay?
i think the best thing about is is that many fans will be keen to experience it but am not sure they’ll prefer it to being a spectator..


[mod] you would have heard of the concept of a ghost car. F1 coverage did it in the late 90s and early 2000s I think where they ran and overlay or ghost image of the car with the fastest lap against the car doing the lap in real time. you could see who was faster immediately. I guess they took it away coz it took away the element of finding out or being surprised if the driver somehow performed a miracle and found time in the final sector. also it showed how fast on the straights and how quickly and how deep into the corners the rival teams car could go.


Nick…well said. There’s a long way to go for this ‘aberration’ to manifest itself as an additive element. Which i very much doubt it will. There are just so many other things that can be done to enhance the viewers enjoyment as well as getting bums onto seats at the actual venues that this latest ‘VR/AR’ nonsense should be put onto the backburner. I very much doubt that it will fly but then again i may well be wrong and i have made a serious error of judgment.


These are my exact thoughts too. It’s some thing that’s been talked about for a while but do you race alongside the real race in real-time? But that means missing the race haha!

Are the real cars ghost cars that mirror their real life race history and you just see if you can beat their pace? Because yeah, if it’s a “real race” with contact, you can change the real race very quickly with a turn one pile up! 🙂


This exactly as it can’t work any other way.


I can reveal the name of the game in Denmark will be “Kejserens nye Klæder”.


Without google translate i even understand your name. never knew Danish was such an easy language 😉
Andersen would be happy

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