Formula E immerses fans with VR for a new perspective on live races
Innovation
Posted By: Editor   |  24 May 2017   |  10:40 am GMT  |  23 comments

The FIA’s Formula E has successfully implemented virtual reality footage into its live feed for the Paris ePrix and will allow fans to revisit races using VR for free.

Its collaboration with Virtually Live lets fans spectate computer-generated replays of races from any point on the track, including views from inside the car, perched on a safety barrier or from the paddock.

“We are delighted to bring fans updated content alongside new features to our Virtually Live-Formula E App including the ability to not just be able to stand anywhere on a race track,” said Virtually Live’s Director of Motorsport Oliver Weingarten.

“[Fans are] also able to drive around it, and get a good perspective and understanding of the chicanes and straights in a unique city-centre race track.

“We have also provided fans without VR headsets the ability to enjoy a second screen experience on PC, giving fans new angles to watch the race that are beyond the limits of the TV cameras.”

VR experiences in Formula E allow fans to revisit races at Marrakesh, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Monaco using kit like the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or a PC.

The Virtually Live app is available on gaming platform Steam.

The championship also broadcasted a Paris practice session for the first time via Facebook Live and Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope for free and without any geographical restrictions.

“At Formula E we always want to be at the forefront of broadcasting technology, pushing the boundaries of how our sport is delivered to our fans,” said Ali Russell, Formula E’s Director of Media.

“Virtually Live offers an amazing new way of viewing the races and this is just the beginning of our aims in this area.

“Live streaming through Facebook Live and Periscope also helps us to get the passion and excitement of the series to a new generation of potential electric racing fans.”

Virtually Live is a company which provides live sports broadcasting solutions in virtual reality, headquartered in San Francisco.

Would you like to see this technology used in Formula 1? Have your say in the comment section below or on JA on F1’s Facebook Page.

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23 comments

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1

FE is fan friendly
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ewdPZR-8M
Just see races live

2

No 'funny' riposte
You are right this time around
3-60 cams could work

3

It is amazing
That Real Reality
Need no cams, cams banned?

4

Real reality?
Mind's eye has distorted lens.
Avoid cul-de-sac.

5

Hmm...What is real?
Is moon there if we don't look?
To observe, or not.

6

What are Formula E's finances like? This VR stuff must have cost a fair bit, and running any race series costs a fortune! There are no big money TV deals, no ticket sales and no race fees, so where is all the money coming from?

7

Before the first season they raised something like $50 million USD for financing. If I remember correctly, the series is intentionally running at a loss for the first few seasons while the brand and exposure is built up. After one or two more seasons, as the name recognition and viewership figures grow, their finances should break even.

8

Liberty Global invested something like $70m in the series after season one. That made quite a difference on many levels

9

Having watched the onboard camera view of Senna going round the Monaco track more times than I remember, this has great potential to make onboard viewing even more incredible. Watching a boring race like sochi for instance through the eyes of your favourite team or driver could be worth a closer look. Equally interesting would be viewing things via a Marshall's perspective......as long as its not one putting a engine fire out on a Mclaren Honda!

10

I am surprised the FIA hasn't mandated VR cameras on the top of F1 cars, it would provide fantastic coverage for the stewards to view incidents.

I assume it would provide commercial opportunity for F1 to sell. Not being a techie I have no idea if/ how this would work. I assume there is VR footage of pit stops already on the net somewhere.

Be amazing to be live mid-pack VR on the starting grid at Monaco or in the pack at Indy this weekend.

11

well that's pretty underwhelming. What does a POV standing on the engine cover or the middle of the track do for watching the race? And the oh, so realistic graphics from a 1980's Commodore 64 are just lame.
Just give me hi-def vision, live streamed and I'm happy.

PS the biggest problem with FE is the track design. They go to all these exotic locations, Marrakech & Paris, but all we see (even with VR) is cars whizzing down a concrete lined avenue. The same goes for Indy cars when they visit street circuits.
Take a leaf from Albert Park ... even Baku and Valencia have open areas the allow a bit more of the scenery to be shown.

12

Hi James,
Sorry about this irrelevant question. Is there any media coverage ban on Alonso's Indy 500 foray? I don't see top F1 journalists covering the recent qualy event.

In my highly biased thinking, Alonso and McLaren have reduced this years Monaco GP to a sideshow. What a masterstroke from Zak Brown in a negative season for the team. It doesn't help that the Monaco GP tends to be processional and boring. I might as well watch the Indy 500 for the first time. Even though they are driving in circles for 500 miles, the potential risk associated with it might make it thrilling. Hope no one gets injured in the process. It always makes me sad seeing that happen in races.

13

Not at all. There is great interest and we discussed it in the Press Conference today.

14
Clarks4WheelDrift

Hmmm, looks like a cheap gimmick trying to cash in on the latest marketing buzz with VR pretending they are future looking and down with the kids.

Not a patch on some VR stuff, I mean the graphics look like 1999/2000 Playstation.

Would maybe work with a live 360 video multi cam feed where you could look around from the drivers perspective as they drove.

15

What kids do you know using vr. Few, I'm sure.

With this approach (using game engine tech) it it's possible to get the live 360° feed on the cars. There is only execution standing in the way there.

I would point out of course PlayStation graphics eventually got really good did they not? I'm saying in other words, great graphics are bound to come to this approach in short order and when that happens it will become a good maybe great way to watch with a few tradeoffs. Sorry but your 360° viewing experience is only a piece of the puzzle and frankly would be boring alone.

16

The more you read innovations of other sports the more you realise how much F1 is behind the times. Hopefully F1 will see something like this because on paper it sounds amazing

17
Ricciardo Aficionado

I virtually understood none of the above article.
But I'm going karting this weekend and I'm virtually going to have an awesome time (for real).
I'm actually glad I've grown out of gaming.

18

If F1 is so eager to embrace the politically/environmentally-correct electric motor crowd, let's do it. Let's do it honestly. Let's race to the same rules and regulations. Of course that is the rub. Remember the turbo vs. normally aspirated soul searching? F1 tried it and let innovation work its way. In the end, marketing the sport actually won out. We are at a similar juncture at this point. Monte Carlo would be the perfect place. Rules would have start with a 1.5 hour race however - and run the same chassis the whole race. Ha! That would eliminate the battery boys right off!

19

I personally think the International Automobile Fed and the automotive industry in general (including the motor sport business) is barking up the wrong tree with fully electrical propulsion.

The problem is range - a grand prix lasts (apart from Monaco) 190 miles, there's no way an electric motor/s can last that long at racing speed. And as for Le Mans..........that's a pipe dream. 24 Hour electric race? How many vehicles would one entrant require? 100?

Hydrogen propulsion* is more a realistic alternative, and it doesn't need 10 million batteries that weight the same size as a cruise liner to provide acceleration and range!

*Including hydrogen peroxide - yes, the same stuff Jacques Villeneuve and Eddie Irvine used to bleach blonde their hair.

20

I'm not sure why I'd want to watch a computer-generated replay?

If I could watch the real footage, in the same way, that's something I'd definitely get behind.

21

Because VR gives you an infinite choice of views. You can decide to watch as if from a specific marshal station. You could sit in the car. You could stand at a specific corner, then watch again as if you were on the other side of the track. Etc

22

Because the VR gives you an infinite choice of vantage points. Good race coverage gives you one plus some replays from different angles. With VR you can chose the view you want. As people here have said you can choose a marshal's view, or you can be sat in the car, or you can "stand" at a specific corner. Then watch again from the other side of the track. And etc

23

Yeah, I know how it works. I'm just not interested in watching a computer-generated replay.

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