Wi-fi in the grandstands: What else can F1 do to boost the fans at races?
Crowd Canada F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jul 2017   |  10:20 pm GMT  |  76 comments

After a successful trial of wifi in the grandstands at the recent Canadian Grand Prix, F1 is looking to branch out towards the next innovation that will enhance the trackside experience for fans at each Grand Prix.

And for the person who comes up with a winning solution, not only is there a $50,000 grand prize, there is also a bonus prize – for one of the winners of Challenge 2 – of a chance to work alongside the Formula 1 technical team at a Grand Prix of the winner’s choice for a unique behind-the-scenes experience. In total six winners will travel to the F1 season finale at Abu Dhabi

Today F1 launched the second challenge in the 2017 F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize, the annual crowdsourcing challenge which asks tech savvy fans to propose solutions to real world problems. The FCIP is a three way initiative between F1, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Tata Communications, F1’s official connectivity partner.

JA on F1 readers have a great track record in this competition, with several winners in the last few years from all around the world, from among our readership.

This year’s FCIP is themed around the Internet of Things and mobile technologies; exploring how the trackside experience could be made more captivating for fans through cutting-edge IoT-enabled mobile apps and real-time data analytics.

“We want to see how through IoT solutions we could enhance the F1 racing experience for the millions of fans who attend the Grands Prix all over the world – from before they even arrive at the track till the end of the race weekend,” said John Morrison, Chief Technical Officer of Formula 1. “Through a mobile app connected to sensors at the track, fans could tune into customised live video feeds based on their favourite team or driver, take part in live polls and synchronised cheering, and interact more seamlessly with other fans on social media. Fans’ emotions could also be tracked to create aggregate emotion charts on large displays at the circuit, creating a more interactive, immersive and thrilling race experience.”

IoT technologies are set to revolutionize the way sports fans interact with the action – and with each other – at sporting venues, with real time interactivity among the fans and between the fans and the sports venue.

A full brief for the second challenge can be downloaded from the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize website. The closing date for this challenge is August 2nd 2017.

FCIP Judges 2017
Lewis Hamilton
James Allison – Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Technical director
Martin Brundle – F1 commentator for Sky Sports F1
Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director of F1 Business at Tata Communications.
Ross Brawn, Managing Director of Motorsports, Formula 1

Twitter: #tatacommsf1prize

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F1 radio for live race commentary, analysis and interviews through official F1 app (free of cost) would be revolutionary.


Best thing Liberty can do to improve the experience of fans in the grandstands is to lock the door to the media centre at each teack. Force journalists to watch from the same seats as paying fans and realise how truly s**t it is. The New York Times opera critic doesn't expect to sit backstage with a tv feed, headphones and libretto to do his job. If it's not possible for journalists to know what's happening in the stands, they shouldn't charge mug punters for it. Wi-fi, tv feeds on tablets, proper commentary - it's all needed. And for christ's sake retire constanduros and that awful Bizet-backed 'here's the champaaaaaaaaaagne' 1950s crap. Even the drivers look like they're going through the motions.


I am in my early 30's and have followed F1 as much as possible since i can remember. I like it as much as i do fooball.

In that time there has been 2x major changes for me personally.

My dad who made us watch it as kids no longer finds it exciting and added to that - he wont pay for it on Sky because of that reason.

I will pay for it in hope of Schumacher/Hakkinen type rivalries now. But it hasnt happened yet.

(Hopefully the way 2017 season is going we may get back to it)

On a separate note, I also feel quite embarrassed to mention F1 in conversation.

People of all ages usually mock the sport for its lack of entertainment and "geeky" followers.

These two are the main ingredients which need changing first, second of all - I wouldnt like it exactly the same but i think F1 should look at the way Darts has risen and is shaking its negative image away. Fans always sell venues out, the sport is expanding and is relatively cheap. Fans get to meet the players regularly and get to interact with them properly.

I know they maybe 2 parallels but there is something to take from this.


What happened to kangeroo tv?


FOM had it binned it. 'cos Bernie wasn't making enough dosh out of it.

Bring on the Rolex's !!


Their pockets were not deep enough.

Matthew Villari

A good non tech initiative would be to find a cost effective way for a couple of teams (mainly Ferrari who get excess funds) to bring cars from the V10 era 1990s onwards to the track for demos in between practice sessions at the track with old drivers, similar to what they've done in the past at Austria.


Make it cheaper,use proper race engines and make passing a possiblity


"F1 is looking to branch out towards the next innovation that will enhance the trackside experience for fans at each Grand Prix."

Since I don't recall having suggested this ever before, how about making the cars sound like they did when they had a NA V10? ...somehow. 🙂


Liberty desperately want the 'enhanced experience' for the same or maybe a little bit more money to be the answer to their dilemma of needing more punters but it may not tie up with what peple really want which in many cases is a cheaper product with improved and better value facilities. As for wi-fi in the stands, the last time I was in the stands at Silverstone they were constructed from boards and scaffolding and it you dropped your 500 quid phone down one of the gaps you would never see it again - and the new phone I have just bought (Samsung S8) is a slippery as an eel. In any case, I struggle to read my phone in sunlight so for me that would not be an attraction though the under 40s with better eyesight might find it useful.


...you go there to experience the cars, the race, the fans, and instead will look at the screen of your phone?

Just like there is an increasing backlash against social media as people finally figure it out, I'm hoping there is an increasing backlash against watching things through a tiny screen and return back to the moment. At recent concerts I noticed visibly more of these youngins actually watch the show without the urge to stick a phone in front of their faces and record it. Still a few holdouts, but it's improving quite a bit. Could it be that we begin to value the live experience more and realize that's what it is about?

And then it all comes back to that experience of feeling the power of the F1 car through the trademark sound, and not having various energy recovery apendages capture the exhaust and take away the sound and smell of F1, filtering the whole experience for those that paid the money and made the effort to be there live.


I know. ..
Bring back the crazy Scotsman in a kilt wandering down the track screaming "The end is nigh"


Scotsman!! tsk tsk ... Irish Roman Catholic Preist wasn't he?

Cornelius "Neil" Horan, used to sing in One Direction I believe 😉


Are you thinking of Sir Jackie ??


Gee, What a concept, "trial" of WiFi..... F1 has a lot to catch-up with the rest of the sporting world :-/


JA, my idea to promote the sport would be to have 3x World Champion Lewis Hamilton actually attend the "F1 Live" event in London (his home town) to show some respect to the sport that has made him unfathomably wealthy, and to his fans (bless 'em) who continue to support him.
He rightly should have had top billing for the event, but was instead a no show.
His twitter message a day out from event to inform that he is on a "2 day break" is just an insult to the sport and his countrymen, and re-affirms his isolationism that comes over as "i'm bigger than the sport".
I'm not British, but i'd be boiling mad if i was.
I'm also not surprised that Liberty were unavailable for comment.
To those that say they don't care what he does outside the car....well, you must really, REALLY, like his driving!!!


London is not Lewis's home town. If the event had been held in Stevenage he would have been the first driver there 😉


You got me by 33 miles. Damn GPS!!


I'm British and couldn't care less that Lewis wasn't at the event. I care what happens on the track, the rest is just fluff. I also couldn't care how much money he has - he is not obligated to attend any event that he is not contracted to.


you must really, REALLY, like his driving!!!

Lol. in that really, really, SLOW car he's had the last few years.

Tornillo Amarillo

Montreal is setting up free Wi-Fi to the whole city for everybody permanently, so F1 is not doing a biiiig thing that weekend, isn't?


This snippet of local information somewhat changes the context of this thread... Surely, the point is not whether wifi is available in the grandstands, but rather the availability and cost of relevant data being fed to a device.

Tornillo Amarillo

OK, fair enough.


I'm delighted to hear that Montreal is establishing city wide wifi. Other cities should consider following their lead. But for F1 to 'piggy-back' this city's endeavours appears to me to once again highlight the current rigidity of the infotainment options available to fans.

Wifi itself is not the issue, rather the imbalanced distribution of funds, the lack of close and competitive racing, the often random appearing interpretation of rules, and so on... right up to the ease at which fans of varying technological abilities can access the sport.

Tornillo Amarillo


1. cheaper tickets
2. the sound of course
3. less aero
4. more tests
5. free beer
6. replace Kvyat by Petrov


I think you need to adjust that list. The top two should be free beer and cheap tickets. The rest doesn't mater.


Tornillo. Hmm...

1. Yep
2. Not really. Sound being waste energy and all that. How about another 50Kmph instead?
3. Yep
4. Yep
5. Oh yes!
6. Replace Kvyat with... Leclerc, Gassly



I often see the notion of "Free Wifi" as being a distraction from bigger problems. For example, in Sydney they are trying to flog this idea to cover up the flaws in an abysmal public transport system.

F1 needs to move from a pull to a push strategy, and actually offer content in order to deliver access to the fans. This means having free to air races, internet streaming, having real-time graphics with useful information, having a free (or very cheap) app available for the anoraks to pore over.

F1 actually had a good solution for trackside viewers years ago with Kangaroo TV - where did that go? Could this not be adapted to an app for mobile devices?


Eerrrrrmmmm....make the actual races more interesting?????


Wow, might be a serious problem with the show if you need WiFi in the stands to entertain people!


I won't bother with the obvious one prices as that is very complex and I know nothing about the arrangements.

Well they have seem to have encouraged more interaction between the drivers and the fans which is great. I imagine that will increase over time.
A few years ago Vettel was criticised for doing doughnuts after wining a race, I don't think it has been done since. I understand that it is silly wasteful and just showing off but it looks great, it's a fun.
After the race it would be fantastic if somehow the fans could safely be allowed across the track to get closer to the presentation ceremony . the atmosphere it creates is amazing. Maybe with some pre-planning and quality marshaling.


JA. Any say/comments or oponion on LH not to attend F1live event?


Very curious about how the panel of judges was selected and in particular LH's presence. Did he volunteer, was he selected or does he have an obligation to contribute? He doean't strike me as a methodological, unbiased judge


"Through a mobile app connected to sensors at the track, fans could tune into customised live video feeds based on their favourite team or driver, take part in live polls and synchronised cheering, and interact more seamlessly with other fans on social media."

Back in the day we used to call that using your eye-holes, asking "what do you think of the race so far?", Mexican waves, and actually talking to people.

If you want more fans to show up, lower the ticket prices. Introducing a bunch of new technology will not help lower the ticket prices.

I very much doubt that I'm going to win that $50k, but I'll settle for a common sense award 😐


As per my own post I totally agree, you watch what's in front of you, for everything else there will be a big screen not too far from you (unless you are very unlucky).

Discuss the race and rant about the injustice of it all to your fellow fans around you, not on twitter to your friends who aren't there, engage, have fun, create atmosphere and memories. Reduce the price of tickets and beer, guaranteed atmosphere!


I have to laugh at all these efforts to promote F1. Fan interest in the actual racing is so low that they want to add WIFI so people can come to the race and do something other than watch it. And then there is the music angle. Nobody really cares about the races, but maybe they will come to the race if there is a concert by some big name act. The desperation is palpable. Mean while Vettel better not show any personality or emotion or he will be sanctioned. Senna wouldn't have lasted a month in this new F! without being banished for showing to much passion and damaging some corporate brand.


Nelson Piquet wouldn't have lasted as long as senna, actually, come to think of it, maybe F1 needs more punch ups, there's something pretty comical about seeing racing drivers trying to hit each other whilst wearing protective crash helmets.


Caption- (Girl in the white hat):

..."where's Lewis????"


in your head!


i have already expressed on here, how this trackside experience could be enhanced. i scanned through to find out how and where my application could be submitted and found nothing.
by the way, f1 in trafalgar square was a treat....not much difference in sound between the v8 v12 and v6 though..


This is easy. Put on a concert with a highly popular pop star and charge separate for that so the track can make money.


I wonder if LH will bother to turn up to do the judging? Or will he just bugger off on holiday again as per the London event? He doesn't make it easy to like him does he.


I don't get the hate. Why is it so important that he be at the event or is he actually now bigger than the sport?


Oh and in case you're wondering, I'm British and live about 60 miles from where Lewis comes from. Makes no difference to my opinion.


Mate, I'm a middle aged man with young kids...I don't hate anyone, least of all Lewis Hamilton...I don't know him, how could I hate him? I merely said that it was difficult to like him. And I stand by that as he has come across in this instance as an arrogant, detached jerk. I suspect he may even know that himself as I write this.

And it was important that he was at the event because every other driver turned up, including Vettel, it's his home capital and he had a huge fan base there. He was utterly conspicuous by his absence. An own goal in my opinion.


Lower ticket prices


Why not have the drivers actually drive the car not computers with a proper engine that sounds like a f1 car and tires that wear out , bring back pitstops .and get the drivers off their high horse may help,


Having been to the Spa GP here is just somethings I felt were lacking for fans:

First, I took the cheap seat (which were not all that cheap) and found a space near the bus stop chicane. It was on a big hill and with only one monitor was very hard to see what was going on at the other parts of the track unless you were very close to monitor.
secondly, the facilities i.e. toilets, refreshments, food were not that great. In fact there was no toilets near us and the food truck offered either burger or chips not both so you had to make several trips to different stands to eat/drink. Not sure if this is the same on other tracks

Thirdly, the price of tickets are stupid. Even the open areas in Spa cost over 100€ for the Sunday. I seen prices of tickets for the open area in Monaco which were cheaper but having been to Monaco, where they are located is so dangerous for spectators.
Also the sound of the engines for F2 and F3 were so much louder than F1. So to sum up.. better facilities, more monitors for the cheap areas, cheaper tickets to get more people in and louder engines


€50 in monaco


Have you seen where they are located? It is quiet a dangerous area


i have not only seen but watched races from there, which were better experiences than those from the grandstands...
i witnessed numerous hardcore italian fans with all sorts of tools and contraptions to secure their seating gear, including specialist micro pick axes used for digging into the rock to carve out bases for their portable chairs. fans are a lot closer together and interact better than the battery seating of grandstands..


V10 OR V12


I think that part of the problem is that grand prix venue facilities are, of necessity, temporary. It would be impractical to build permanent grandstands around Silverstone, Montreal or anywhere else. So the majority of fans who are lucky enough to get a place in a grandstand experience a forest of scaffolding, planks and tiny plastic seats where they must sit for several hours. Some will bake in the sun or get soaked in the rain because there is no cover. All will paddle through unpleasant liquids in the portaloos and queue for overpriced burgers etc at catering vans. And at what cost? It is no wonder that so many fans choose to watch at home.
I would like to see more organised events at the circuits to draw fans away from their TVs. Displays of old cars, meet the driver (current or retired), concerts, competitions, and an open pitlane on every day of the meeting. Liberty have lots of experience in that area so I am hopeful for the future.


mexico city shanghai kuala lumpur shanghai austin abu dhabi and few others enjoy permanent grandstands. venues with temporary grandstands structures, use them because they can get away with it..they all try to maximise their profits at all cost. silverstone could afford to build the new facility they call the wing but yet fail to build better grandstands for fans and yet claim that they're running at a loss, while lining their pockets..


Fair dinkum!.. " Fans’ emotions could also be tracked to create aggregate emotion charts on large displays at the circuit, creating a more interactive, immersive and thrilling race experience.” - what a load of bull dust.
The emotions of the fans doesn't make a thrilling race, the thrilling race makes the fans emotions. Who comes up with this rubbish?
What's the point of Wi-Fi or IoT if the FIA gouges $40 to download the live timing app.
Notice that they're even cutting back on how much info they put in the graphics on TV and so trying to force us to pay this ridiculous amount for what they should be giving away for free to enhance the immersive, thrilling emotional viewer experience.


i used to enjoy watching the data n myaptop until they decided to charge for it. i don't miss it now and will not pay for it. I enjoy the pictures and commentary just as much now as I did with the data. only problem is the negativity from the commentary. i with they stuck to telling us what's happening and where on track it's happening rather than their opinions..


Forget the gimmicks, get back to racing!
One of he biggest problems for this fan is the apparent lack of character in the driver line up. They are like the cars these days, put them in silhouette and you wouldn't be able to tell one from the other. So thank god for Seb. I don't much like him but at least he appears to be human.


Call me old fashioned but I don't think wifi is a good idea anyone who has been to a concert recently will know it's a sea of smart phones, no one experiences anything through their own eyes and I think that is sad, too busy taking a terrible quality video or streaming on Facebook live so all their friends can get jealous of them watching the show through a 3" screen.

Rant over, better commentary would be good, I'm by no means an Grand Prix veteran but in my experience (as with virtually all big PA systems) it can be very boomy and hard to make out.

Seriously crop the frankly ridiculous number of photographers and media people that get in (probably for free), release the freed up pit and trackside passes to the general public (first come first served).

Alianora La Canta

Media people get charged to attend races through their media licences (and at some tracks there's an additional fee - occasionally eye-wateringly high - for internet services). And it would still only get you under 200 passes to go round (typically) 50,000 - 100,000 spectators.


Its simple - make attending races affordable.

I'm a long term F1 fan from Australia. I now live 1.5 hours drive from Silverstone and would love to attend a race at one of the best circuits on the calendar. I earn a good living, have nothing planned this Sunday but simply can't justify £205 for a General Admission ticket! Let alone if I want to sit in a Grandstand.

How is the sport ever going to attract new fans if it continues to make it increasingly unobtainable.

As for this statement:

“Through a mobile app connected to sensors at the track, fans could tune into customised live video feeds based on their favourite team or driver, take part in live polls and synchronised cheering, and interact more seamlessly with other fans on social media. Fans’ emotions could also be tracked to create aggregate emotion charts on large displays at the circuit, creating a more interactive, immersive and thrilling race experience.”

This is just what we need....100,000 people paying a lot of money to stare at their phones.

Sure develop mobile applications that make viewing experience more immersive for fans around the globe that aren't in attendance but simply making it possible to attend more races is the best start.


My experience of anywhere that offers free wi-fi is that it's always slow and hardly worth the effort of connecting to it. Just a gimmick.

Why would they limit such an innovation to fans attending trackside? After all the internet is a world wide web, accessible from just about anywhere.

In addition to an app which provides video feeds, instant timing information and the like, you should also be able to tune in to team radio and listen to what's going on directly in each team.


Make more of the race video available in real time, as well as post race. I assume this will be done, and the current limit on distribution of race video is a by product of the current contract. But getting more video on TV, YouTube, and available in real time at the race (and at home) would enhance the race experience for all.


Well there is a lot that could be cheaper or even free, and then they could pick up theeir revenue at other places that makes sense. I wont go into details but, many things are close if not even exactly the same as adertising or for the benefit of the sport/Libery/the Comersial rights holders. And thats the way a business corporation works, they need to make profits to a maximum. We've already seen how bad it can get if thats your only objective, and always short term, with the former owners. Al lot can be improved....


Bring in free wifi so people keep staring at their phones, not the track. I'm not sure.


Most people have mobile data anyway. Otherwise why pay £30 a month for a smartphone?


Dear Liberty Media. I'm off to Silverstone for the the weekend. It's very expensive (£250x2 for my weekend tickets, plus accommodation, food, parking travel- so the weekend is going to cost about £1000). I'm unlikely to be able to afford to go again for a significant period of time. I don't really care about the music concerts that my money is paying for as I'm there to watch cars go round and round very quickly. Make it cheaper - if people want to listen to a music concert let them pay for it seperately, but why make me pay too? Make it a reasonable cost and I'll go more often; you then earn more in the long run. It's very simple.

Alianora La Canta

The splitting of music concert and race makes sense at a lot of tracks. However, Silverstone's original reason still stands - it had to do something to control outgoing traffic onto the rural roads of Northamptonshire. While some people leave straight after the race, the concert means people now drift out as and when they tire of the post-race entertainment. Having people leave across several hours means that, in combination with the bypass, having over 100,000 people at the race becomes viable.

As such, the concert is part of the reason Silverstone is able to stage a F1 race at all. They're hardly going to reduce its ability to do that by charging for it.


That's a fair point. Having now attended I can see why that makes sense. I still think they could make it cheaper though. Is it not better to have 2 fans for 175 each than 1 fan for 250? I'm not a marketing man nor am I an accountant so I'm just asking the question.


Buy up Motorsport Manager 2

Make it F1 with the teams and names

Make it so the gap isn't massive from Merc and Ferrari to the rest (or the game will be rubbish - hint hint for the real show)

Release the full game for free without any IAP nonsense, so properly free.

Millions will download and play and enjoy it as it will be a great game with great gameplay without feeling like an app ripoff.

Some of them may then get into F1 even if their dad doesn't buy it from Sky TV for them.


Make races like the 2005 USGP. 'Allow' fans to toss beer bottles onto the track so they can take part in the action.


"Also the sound of the engines for F2 and F3 were so much louder than F1."

This. I'm not paying £200 and finding out the main act is playing at half the volume as the support band. It's pathetic.


Sex drugs and rock and roll baby, where did it all go wrong with this generation ?

Crofty apologizing every time some one says a "bad" word behind the wheel...like this is some kiddie show, get real.

At one time F1 was the reality version of what most could only dream of, the thin line between living and dying was real, and for many it was the only way to feel alive.

The sound, the smells, it was enough to make you sick to your gut, make your knees weak.

Thats mostly gone now and it seems the new heads are lost at how to remove the sanitizing idiots. Perhaps thats a place start ?


certainly in the U.K. the best thing they could do would be to take the initial financial hit, and get it off Sky and all races back on free-to-air.

nobody who doesn't Already have an interest is going to pay 22 quid a month extra just on the off chance that they end up liking it.
if they want to attract new viewers, these people actually have to be able to watch the damn thing, the whole season too.


So let me get this straight... the cars sound terrible, look like the result of a shark rogering a coathanger, and are so aero-dependent that they can't follow each other... and we're going to fix it by giving free WIFI?!?! It'd want to be pretty damn good WIFI.


Great big numbers on the cars and more distinctive helmets would be a good start ! I found it difficult to tell which was the Hulk and which Palmer at Silverstone today.

Flying Pasty Monster

Allow the drivers to be creative.

For example allow Vettel and Raikkonen to pull over and sabotage the track, only for it to backfire.

Allow Bottas and Hamilton to release banana skins from the back of the car.

About half way through, Pastor Maldonado appears and does what Maldonado does best.

Okay, I'm a little bit on the wacky races school of thought, but still.....

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