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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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…..


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.


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.


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.


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 ?


“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.


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


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.


Dear Liberty Media. I’m off to Silverstone for the the weekend. It’s very expensive (£250×2 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.


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?


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….


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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..


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..


V10 OR V12


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..


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,


Lower ticket prices


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.


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 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..

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