F1 tests capability to give fans live race details in 360
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Sep 2017   |  2:22 pm GMT  |  73 comments

The Singapore Grand Prix saw a breakthrough in broadcast technology with F1 carrying out a live proof of concept exercise with 360 degree TV broadcast that means F1 may soon offer fans the option to choose their view of race details on mobile devices in the near future.

This comes at a time when F1 Group is investing in a new OTT (over the top) video platform and other technologies to enhance the experience for fans who are not at the race track, to try to make them feel more like they are there.

There are mixed feelings on 360 and the problem with tests of live broadcast of 360 in sport up to now has been that there is a latency of around 30 seconds between the user and the broadcast images. This is why there hasn’t been much take up of the technology. In real time the moment had passed before the user’s manipulation of the mobile screen had changed the view.

The exercise carried out in Singapore cut that latency almost to zero, with two cameras being used through the weekend. One was placed on the track, allowing users to pan, while the other was placed at one of the most populous areas of the F1 paddock for people-watching.

According to F1’s chief technical officer John Morrison, “We’ve done this test to show how a fan could watch Lewis, Sebastian or any other drivers coming into the pits on TV, grab their tablet and get a second, completely in sync 360º view of everything going on around him while he is there – not 30 seconds after he has driven off!

“In a sport like F1 where every millisecond matters, there are huge opportunities to empower fans to take control of key Grand Prix moments and create their unique, personalised race experiences through the powerful combination of live TV and 360º video.”

Many consumers are sceptical about the potential for 360 and Virtual Reality in general when it comes to broadcast, with the widely held belief that it could be like 3D TV which was supposed to be the next big thing but never caught on.

But according to Michael Inouye, Principal Analyst at ABI Research, which carried out a survey earlier this year on the sector, “VR is not 3D.”

He estimates that the 360 and VR market could be worth around US$60 billion by 2021, with entertainment and sport at the forefront of the take up.

“With first-generation hardware sales lower than expected, some industry professionals suggest parallels between VR and 3D, but the wealth of companies active in this space and deep-seeded belief in VR stand in marked contrast to the short-lived heyday of 3D. While most companies engage with VR live in the entertainment realm, other segments like real-estate/construction/architecture, marketing/sponsorships, healthcare, and training also represent huge opportunity in these early years.”

* Meanwhile in Formula E, VR tech company Virtually Live has announced an installation at Red Bull Media World in Luzern, to enable fans to participate in a race as if they would be attending in person. Visitors to the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz will have the chance to compete over 2 laps to beat Sébastien Buemi’s fastest time at last Season’s Paris ePrix, by driving in VR using Virtually Live’s proprietary technology.

What do you think? Can you imagine engaging with 360 pictures on your mobile during a Grand Prix weekend? Where would you want to place a camera for best effect? Leave your comment in the section below

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I would pay a serious amount for the ability to watch from any car in VR. This would be AMAZING.


This looks good but as someone who doesn’t use a phone or tablet I’m not sure how it works. Is it the same as a Facebook or a Twitter video?


I guess it will be like Google street view but not free! I can’t see that much demand myself but I’m still on Windows XP ☺


While I am sceptical whether 360 and VR will take off as a live concept during races I do think that VR linked with technology such as VisorCam ( used in Indycar ) would be interesting. Being able to relive races from the visor of any driver in Virtual Reality could be amazing and as close to experiencing being a driver as possible for us. Imagine experiencing the helmet buffeting through Eau Rouge and 180R without the neck strain.


Owning up I’m a data person, I like to know what’s going on in the numbers and recently the quality of the data has been getting worse, less frequent and less meaningful. How about they put an ex team tactician/engineer in charge of what data we see on the screen. The stuff he would use to make decisions on when to stop, what tyres to change from/too, what instructions to give to his drivers, etc. That’s the interesting stuff, who’s on what tyres, the gap between the cars, gap to the race leader, lap times etc. Please, some data from the cars not just rarely but every single time they show video from a car, engine rpm, G force, speed (not a rolling bunch of numbers that moves so fast they can’t be read), gear, steering angle, boost pressure etc. I recognise things like tyre temperature, pressure, engine temp, gearbox temp etc are too valuable to the team to broadcast.

FHS decent sound, immersive sound, lossy Dolby Digital just doesn’t cut it these days, get with the program Atmos or DTSX, have that sub woofer wooffing. Sound is very important in motor racing, it’s a huge part of being there and right now what’s broadcast is crap (even more crap that what it is live). I want to hear the tyres working, scraping of skid plates, wind rush as the car goes past the camera, squeal of the brakes, rattle of the wheel nut guns. All of the audible stuff that you miss right now.

The 360Fly camera is available in a 4K version now and they are amazing; https://shop360fly.com.au/pages/cameras

There are of course others https://vuze.camera/about-us/

They capture a full 360 degree view all of the time that they are on and you can select which angle you want to watch by scrolling up and down or side to side on your phone or tablet screen. F1 could easily upload it over night and then the next day we could choose our favourite driver and watch the race as he experienced it. From any angle. Charge a small subscription, it wouldn’t cost much to do and they could see advertising if necessary.


Perhaps they might sort out the current broadcasting first. Put crowd and people shots as picture in picture so the race action isn’t lost while the producer looks for “celebrities”, and, most of all bring back the running timing screens for the whole race not for random anD rare moments., so we can follow the action through the field at least in time if not picture.


“the other was placed at one of the most populous areas of the F1 paddock for people-watching”
Here I was thinking that the whole purpose of having F1 on TV was to see the best cars and drivers racing.
Guess I was wrong but it does explain the popularity of Monaco!!!


How about a simple subscription service online so I can purchase from F1 live-stream coverage of any race I like? The coverage is just fine as it is, no need to do gimics. Who came up with this? The trumpet exhaust makers? I thought BE had retired.

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!


I don’t need any of this fancy technology.

I just want to sit down on my sofa and watch a good race. One awesome feed with good camera angles, good sound and good commentary will do just fine.

But, if I had to come-up with ideas revolving around “getting-involved” I would try this:

1- Be able to listen to real-time radio transmissions for any driver. No time-delays, no-censorship. Imagine this: You pick “Mclaren pitwall Alonso” in your “race radio” and you’ll be entertained for hours!

2- Access to on-board cameras for all cars. If I want, I switch to “Car 44 Camera – Forward View” and I get to watch Hamilton drive the whole race.

3- “Be part of the pitwall” feature. You join the “McLaren – Alonso” pitwall and you get to “discuss strategy” with a real junior race strategist moderating that channel. You vote on surveys from the moderator like “Softs or supersofts?”, etc.


Much more simple and easy to do right now.
But there could be problems with the first one.
1. listen to radio – I don’t know if all teams get access to all other team radio or just what FOM share with us too? If the former, there is no problem, if the latter then I can’t see any of the teams agreeing to this!
2. This should so be available AND how hard would it be to release the whole lot post race? It is a lot of data I agree, but why shouldn’t I be able to watch a whole race from any camera of my choosing? Or be my own race director and make use of my large screen TV and watch several cameras at once?
3 – Be part of the pitwall. I like the idea – what would be even better is if a team had a real time vote that they stuck to when it came to strategy – start on inters or wets? Start on ultras or supers? Pit on next lap? Safety car comes out – pit now or not? And they go with the majority vote. THAT would be interactive.


Point 3: I can imagine a couple of thousands fans of a specific driver being able to mess up a pit stop of the other title challenger by voting for the worst choice of tyres…:). I don’t think it’s a good idea.
The previous two are great.


I’d be happy if FOM did what CAMS does in Australia. Race control hears all radio messages, the broadcast booth hears all radio messages. Then CAMS decides to air certain messages, while the commentary team can ad-lib and paraphrase some of the less than appropriate transmissions. It keep the commentary team extremely well informed about everyone’s strategy and status, which in turn helps them do a much better job of explaining to the viewer what is going on (usually in regards to pit strategy, but many other things as well).

An option to listen to the team radio live and uncensored would be nice, but I feel if that became a thing, teams would circumvent the radio by using additional displays in the car to relay important messages. Halo won’t be around forever, cockpit canopies will soon follow, and with them will come Heads Up Displays, which will allow the teams to communicate all kinds of information, silently.


This is a worse idea than Formula-E allowing fans to boost their favorites … and that was a horrible idea already.


Why don’t we start with providing a decent F1 race coverage here in the states, for a starter. Let’s focus on the bread and butter first. The NBCSN coverage is treadful, when compared to what I am used to from the ITV days (with James, mind you) in the UK back in the days, or even with BBC at the time. I must admit, I haven’t had the chance to watch the Sky coverage yet. Now in the states, the NBCSN coverage, even though it has improved over the years, is still a long way off what it can be. Even though it is behind the cable paywall, we still see commercials every 3-4 laps, and also at the worst possible moment right before the pit stop window or before a safety car comes in, for example. Last week, during the Singapore coverage, they took a commercial break during the podium ceremony, and we missed most of that!! It’s absolutely ridiculous. Will Buxton, and to an extend Steve Matchett, are really the only people that keep this coverage somewhat credible and interesting, although the pit walk and pre-race features could be drastically improved, and leave a lot to be desired for. Hobbs is past it and brings forth more confusion than Murray Walker did in his latter years, minus the credibility or the reputation. Generally, the content and coverage is very watered down with not much clever and technical bits to learn and glean from. I am hoping that LIberty will pay attention to this, and drive some positive changes in that area, and at the same time push the US coverage and quality up to par with what the UK as to offer. And please don’t copy what Nascar and Indy does today….the F1 audience is arguably a bit different and more technical in that regard.


NBCSN isn’t the only way to watch F1 races in the continental USA. Unimas, the HD broadcast over-the-air free channel shows every F1 race on a delayed basis (usually staring at 7:30am Pacific Time when starting on NBCSN at 4:30am). The coverage starts with 30 minutes pre-race and has commercials, then at the five minute countdown the coverage is continuous through the podium with no commercials. The commentary is in Spanish (which I don’t understand but I know F1 so who needs it). It’s the world-feed just like NBCSN, but with no commercials. Sometimes it is live too. The HD over-the-air quality of the broadcast video is better than cable or satellite since there is less compression. Try it for Malaysia and check your local Unimas EPG as it will be about 2am Pacific time. In Los Angeles where I live Unimas is OTA channel 34.2. They rarely show practice or qualifying. Web Channel Guides like Zap2It normally list the race as live, but as I said the EPG will have the correct broadcast time. Of course all the radio other things like the podium interviews are in English. Check it out.


I’m not really sure what they are trying to offer here but what I’d like is to have a subscription or pay per view option for F1 and F2. The only reason I have cable TV is for F1 coverage but the rates have gotten so high I’m about to ditch it, but will lose F1 with it.


You would think that all possible efforts would be going into fixing the existing product (cars & racing ) before working on new innovations in broadcasting the said product right?

The way it stands next year is going to take make more that a 360 camera angle to pretty up the horrible looking cars with halo let alone fix the further reduction in spectacle that the halo will no doubt deliver as well.


I’m still unconvinced by VR. It feels like it has stalled in the gaming sphere, in sports TV coverage it is non existing.

Multiple camera angles has been tried and to be honest that didn’t catch on either because of the convenience of the TV broadcast. Why would you want to take you attention off of the main feed for an on-board Hamilton pit stop and potentially miss something.

Sky tried similar with player cam on their football coverage and I don’t think that even exists anymore.

Tornillo Amarillo

a breakthrough in broadcast technology with F1 carrying out a live proof of concept exercise with 360 degree TV broadcast that means F1 may soon offer fans the option to choose their view of race details on mobile devices in the near future.

This is technologie from the 21st Century!

But first what if they licensing bloggers to permit PHOTOS-VIDEOS-GIF of each race?
Just an old license agreement from the less-chic/XX century.

Because after the race still cannot discuss with a proper photo of the crashes and race incidents.

James, your analyses in this blog still doesn’t show videos!

Still you do a great job for sure.


That’s because it would breach rights restriction!

Tornillo Amarillo

Yes, that’s why just licensing rights will improve the fans’ experiences about F1.


The graphics and information on screen were much better years ago, all i want is a friggin circuit map on screen so i can get it in my head over the weekend, im sure we used to have one although i forget when and what channel. Not knowing the tracks makes it confusing to watch sometimes. Get the basics right first.


As a suggestion watch on boards from Youtube and use Wiki for a circuit map.


The circuit orientation you can take care of yourself if it’s that big of an issue.

Google the name of the track, keep your phone beside you while you watch so you can reference track maps.

Go on YouTube, look up onboard videos of the respective track. Watch them over and over again until you have a good feel for it. Watch the videos, refer to the track map you googled, so on and so forth.

I was actually doing this last weekend watching TCR Asia from Bangsaen Thailand….talk about a gnarly street circuit 0.0. I had to rewatch the onboard lap like 5 times before I finally had it figured out and matched up with the TV images.

Last, if you really want to go the last step, go buy a PS4 or Xbox, get a crappy F1 game (or a good game like PCARS), and use it to learn the tracks.

I can tell you, watching a race on a track which I know by heart and have raced on in a game is a completely different experience than watching a race on a track that I haven’t seen in a game.


Absolutely. You get a better appreciation of how the track flows and how hard it is even by driving it in a game. Obviously real world is different, but every little helps!


A return to terrestrial TV access (preferably free-to-air) would be the quickest and best way to bring back the viewers. I once watched Independence Day on the seat-back screen on a Virgin Atlantic flight – not a ‘big’ screen experience. F1 on an iPhone I don’t think so.


All round vision might be great for a rabbit or pigeon, but I’m neither. Instead of more gimmicks how about FOM getting the current broadcasts up to a decent standard.


Broadcasting in 4k super high definition is the most obvious development to bring forward. F1 provides the TV feed. That alone would be a positive step before testing things that might offer only a time limited novelty interest.


There is already a 4K feed, it’s likely just not used by most broadcasters. Sky show races in 4K (at least on Sky Q) in the UK.


If it means I won’t have to listen to Crofty, I’ll take it.


I’ll second that 😉

There’s so much more they can do before 360. Start by giving direct data and lap comparisons for drivers racing with offset pitstops, so show the fresh tyre sector times vs old tyre sector times so show the lap differences, the in lap and out lap comparisons and most of all …

don’t show them pitting then driving slowly up the pit lane to exit, wondering how close it’ll be then BANG cut to Jo Palmer round the back of the track on his own or CRASH cut to Marcus Ericcson as he is entering the pit lane or even worse WALLOP cut to a shot of some local pop star in a random garage looking like he is loving the free hospitallity but has no clue about F1!


There’s so much more they can do before 360. Start by giving direct data and lap comparisons for drivers racing with offset pitstops, so show the fresh tyre sector times vs old tyre sector times so show the lap differences, the in lap and out lap comparisons and most of all

Whoa whoa whoa, there’s no way you understand enough about motor racing to process all that information. You most definitely need an excitable British guy to explain things to you.

Pitstops are my favorite part of a GP (especially when we get watch them twice, second time in slow mo!!!). I tune in to watch the best drivers in the world in the fastest cars in the world….trundle down the pitlane on the limiter (more automation for Sebee) at 60km/h. Spectacular!!!! The best is when they cut away from a car at race speed, mid corner, to someone plodding down the lane…..cause, you know, picture-in-picture hasn’t been invented yet, or something.


Picture-in-Picture? Is that like Simulation within Simulation?


I’m not really sure this is going to take off. I trust the TV director to show us what’s going on. I don’t want to be faffing around with all this while the race is going on.


VR gaming is amazing, especially sim racing in VR
VR 360 video is meh, the picture quality is not nearly good enough yet.

They don’t need to make this more complicated than they need to

Just offer an online service for paid subscribers to an F1 website that allows you to watch a race online and select any in car or track side camera and display the race data all in one service that can be accessed from anywhere and from any device. Even allow subscribers to watch older races and even classic races too.


I mean good luck to them, they can’t even get 2D graphics to work correctly most weekends, and even when they do work the genius TV director elects not to use the useful ones. Why would we ever need to see the lap times during a qualifying session eh.


Why would we ever need to see the lap times during a qualifying session eh.

Remember when the graphic in the bottom right corner of the screen during Qualifying showed not just the best sector times, but also added them up to give a theoretical best lap time?

Considering the amount of data available in Formula 1 we actually seem to see less than we did a few years ago, or is that my imagination?


Is it because there is an app you need to pay for to get that info now?


Unique, personalised race experiences are no use if you can’t share them. That’s why it’s called SOCIAL media.


Could VR become the new drug? New addiction?

You know, people instead of living their real lives, will spend it mostly in a make belief VR world?

And if VR is a virtual universe where potentially anything goes, and anything is legal, what are the ramifications of these virtual realities and humans being immersed in them? Especially if GTA VR comes out for example? And why would I want to spend that VR time watching F1 or supplementing TV coverage, when I could be simulating being at some wild party with all the stars I desire? Of course, that’s a paid in-game upgrade. And certainly VR is a huge opportunity for the pornographic industry too, crossing into interactive content, which will happen without doubt. If the projection is $60B by 2021, you can be sure that GTA VR like vice games and pornographic industries will represent 90% of that opportunity.

I like how VR is presented as this content feeding legitimate entertainment tool, when surely deep inside everyone knows that the experience will be most popular in exploring vices without any consequences. Of course like any Black Mirror episode warns us, there is always 2 sides to this. I don’t see anything positive about this path to be honest. It simply turns human lives into a simulated experience. Very much on the path toward….The Matrix.

Blue pill or Red pill?


According to Elon Musk it is highly likely we are already living in a simulation.


That’s not Musk’s theory, he’s just parroting it. The Sinulation Arguement was first proposed by Nick Bostrom (very smart Mensa guy). It’s not even a theory though, it’s an arguement which pits three equally likely theories against each other. Based on the information we can gather, we have no way to know which of the 3 possibilities will come true….but it’s quite obvious that one of the 3 will be true….which, when you watch the full video of what the 3 possibilities are, it kind of puts some nice bookends on what humanity is and what it could accomplish.

In short, he considers “technological maturity” to be when a civilization can make fully accurate “ancestor simulations”, simulated down to the synapses firing between neurona in the brain (would these lines of code form a conscience?).

First, there’s 2 possibilities, either we reach maturity, or not.

From there, the next question is, if we do reach tech maturity, would we make the conscience choice to turn on a fully detailed ancestor simulation. Based off what we’re doing now, I would guess that yes, we would turn it on.

Third, once you turn on an ancestor simiulation where the inhalerants are conscience, there’s nothing to prevent the inhabitants of the ancestor simulation to eventually mature themselves, and create their own ancestor simulations.

If one civilization in the history of everything was capable of turning on an ancestor simulation, then there’s the possibility of infitite simulations….like a dream within a dream.

It’s a bit dry, but here’s the man himself explaining


Modern philosophy blended with technology and science fiction is simply amazing.

I did feel we were on a similar page Twitch_6.

Where else can a discussion about F1 trying out VR get this deep? I have to say props for James to letting it venture out a bit. But unless we bring a larger context to the Formula 1 simulation we observe, it limits us.


This sure as heck would explain a while bunch of quantum physics “unknowns” like spooky action at a distance, yes?


“why would you want to look away or backwards?”

To be able to see your wife/partner enter the room.


Augmented reality!


“Could VR become the new drug? New addiction?”

Yes, if reality continues to suck. VR is the necessarily stimulus for reality and for politicians to finally get their act together and stop sucking.


Could VR become the new drug? New addiction?
You know, people instead of living their real lives, will spend it mostly in a make belief VR world?

You do know what an MMORPG is right? Games like World of Warcraft, Second Life, etc, they already completely take over people’s lives. You add VR to that, and BOOM, people are going to disappear. Just hook up the IV, build the toilet into the chair (Ideocracy anyone?), and you don’t really have to move…ever. Not everyone who plays them is addicted, but there’s a lot who are. There’s already issues in some countries where governments have had to start wrapping their heads around how they tax earnings made in a virtual realm.

Also I’m pretty sure VR porn is already a thing.


Like the comedy series Red Dwarf with their Better Than Life total immersive videogame episodes – classic.


Nicely put Twitch_6


Yes, I’m aware of all this. Maybe Wall-E predicted things correctly?

Multiple realities exist at once, as possibilities. It’s our choice to pick one, unless we’re already in a simulation of some sort. If you think about it there are always a limited number of choices about the realities possible.

But I have to tell you, if I could pick my ideal formula and pluck my choice of grid and let that play out…well, we may be onto something here with VR.

555kg V10 cars with 6 speed manual and no BS electronics with Schumi, Senna, Lewis, Vettel, Prost, Lauda, Piquet, Mika, Kimi, Villeneuve, Mansell, Button and few other in their prime with a full profile of their peak driving input and style loaded on after deep analysis in full reality quality graphics. I’d watch that simulation, even if I had to do it with VR. 🙂


Ya Sebee, now your on to something! And then put them on the Nordschlief, or the Isle of Mann….or recreate Classic Monza or Classic Spa (both in PCARS 2, along with Classic Silverstone, Classic Hockenheim, Nordschlief, Ruen Les Essart, Watkins Glen, Leguna Seca, Knock Hill, Brands Hatch, Imola, Donnington, Sonoma, Indy, Daytona, La Sarthe, SUGO, Ruapuna Park, Fuji, COTA, Bathurst, Monaco, Long Beach, Road America, Zhuhai, Snetterton, Dhubai, and many more :D, releases this Friday!).

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