How far does your imagination stretch on how to customise F1 viewing experience?
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Jul 2018   |  10:33 am GMT  |  64 comments

There is just a week to go in the most intriguing of Formula 1’s crowdsourcing challenges to date.

That’s one week to make a submission that could win you not only a US$50,000 cash prize and a visit to the US Grand Prix in Austin with behind the scenes access, but also the chance to have your winning idea incubated and prototyped in the F1 R&D centre possibly to become part of its coverage of F1.

“This initiative is to say to the fans ‘what do you as a modern F1 fan really want to see? What’s the menu that you want to enhance your viewing experience and your immersion in Formula 1?’ Give us those ideas and we will take them and make them a reality,” says Ross Brawn, F1 Managing Director, Motorsports.

“The winner of this competition will see that idea grow, and see that idea expand and become part of the portfolio of things that the fan can engage with.”

Ross Brawn

The F1 Innovation Prize is now in its fifth year and we are proud to say it has been won on several occasions by readers of JA on F1 – so we are keen to keep up our strike rate!

The challenge has opened up F1’s conversation with highly engaged users, especially from the IT professional world. It is a three-way joint initiative between F1, Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Tata Communications.

This year’s challenge aims to change the way F1 reaches its audience with a concept called “My F1”. It offers fans the chance to engage with many different data points, to find new and innovative ways to enhance their enjoyment of F1.

The challenge offers different data points to work with. From the F1 side details of timing information, live broadcast feeds, team radio, audio.

From Mercedes there is information on how the cars are behaving, data like corner speed, gears, steering angle, lateral G force and so on. Users who are interested in race strategy for example can imagine how data on tyre performance and gaps between competitors could be turned into a real time social media running commentary on strategy options.

Mercedes has also made data available around things like driver and pit crew biometrics, data points that are often hidden away from view; a clear sign of how the stakeholders are looking to bring the fans closer to the sport.

Users can even imagine accessing historical data, for example, to compare real life race scenarios to ones that have happened before, either on the same circuit, or where the same choice of tyre compounds have been available earlier in the season.

Recognising the trend towards sports fans looking for customised experiences, the goal of this exercise is to serve fans with the content in which they are interested, on a device that suits them, with a level of customisation that bridges barriers of language, interest and technical knowledge.

“There’s a new mindset, a new philosophy of how we present Formula 1,” says Brawn. “Keep what’s really good about it, make sure we never alienate the traditional fan, but engage the new fans with different technologies they can get involved with and they have options to pick what they need. There are all these layers we can add to the fan that has perhaps a different sort interest; for example the layers of all the different lap times, how the car is behaving, what’s happening with the race strategy in more detail.”

The key is identifying which are the data points that will really cut through and work in a crowded and busy storytelling environment, to create an immersive experience.

The challenge then is to find the best visual representation in order to personalize the content being consumed and improve fans enjoyment and understanding of the sport.

The judges this year include F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 technical director James Allison and Ross Brawn, F1 Managing Director, Motorsports.

Entries close on August 6. For more information or to enter go to:

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Suppose we could choose our own in car cameras AND choose our own engine note from a varity of classic F1 cars? A Matra V12 note mated to Lewis Hamilton’s ridiculous Hoover-Benz would lure me in.


Since the subject of free to air F1 has been raised by a few people I thought it worth trying to rationalise what has happened and what is possible in future. All of this has been said before but there is no harm in a few collected observations on the topic.

In the old days F1 was not owned by anyone in a financial sense. Fans could feel a sort of psuedo ‘shared ownership’. Then the FIA had the bright idea to sell the commercial rights to Bernie. The countries with FTA coverage either on public service broadcasting or on commercial TV funded by advertising were all gradually priced out of the game along with the big sponsors who saw their TV exposure dwindling. Admittedly the loss of non-PC tobacco sponsorship did not help the sport either. The participating teams were OK with this as sponsorship money is replaced with TV money and prize money helped by extracting large hosting fees from race promotors. A plus side to all this is that the quality of TV coverage as has greatly increased.

The last straw was the sale of the rights on a 100 year contract. Ridiculous but true. That that means no way back for live free to air while the ‘owners’ have breath in their bodies. So even if free to air could come back, it probably won’t since no one would want to pay to provide anything even close to current levels of coverage given the infrastucture needed. Televising football for example is easier and cheaper to cover though the telecommunications costs would be similar

So, paywalled F1 can only work long there if there are enough fans willing to cover the costs along with sufficient TV advertising. Short term it can work since TV contracts guarantee revenue to rights holders but if subscriptions are too low they will negotiate lower future prices or decline to renew.

Live FTA F1 can only work if big advertising revenues come back and if the production costs are low enough for TV companies to take it up again. A delayed FTA ‘highlights’ package on FTA seems to be attractive but lacks the appeal of live TV.

So, maybe neither viewing option can work very well in the long term and televised sport in general not just F1 will go into decline in some markets.

We need future accessible motor sport (and other sport) and is popular enough to attract big advertisers and that is not sold off to a money generating third party. If that means finding a new system of governance to replace the FIA with a body that will not sell off the sport to the highest bidder – or to their mates – then so be it.


Or as we all become digital, a low cost streaming option that guarantees live accessibility for fans and eyeballs for the sponsors

$100 a year for your favourite sport? Not unreasonable

With 300m fans globally that proposition adds up to something quite interesting


James, I am not in doubt that some of the money men behind will still increase their absolute profit value, but your calculation is wrong and you ought to know better.

Eg. Italy and Brazil are the top markets for F1 fans and they have both dropped the most old viewers the last year. Yes, Massa is no longer driving but viewer costs to follow the sport behind the paywall has been quoted as the main reason next to one-team car dominance. And for you and others 100 dollars might not be much, but for the vast majority of fans in these two countries it is way above what they are able/willing to pay out from their total available cash in their family livelihood.


James, where do you get the 100 dollars price. F1 tv pro ( live coverage) in France is 180 euros and in UK you have to use sky which is about £200 a year on top of the base sky subscription.


Seriously, if viewers need to “stretch their imaginations” to get a decent viewing experience, we should pack up, close the doors, and turn the lights off now. What I want, is close racing between multiple teams, that is not contrived.

I don’t want to spend the time “during a race” to delve into the detail of lap charts, speed charts, and the finer detail of the background personally. I want the broadcasters to alert me of these things, while I actually watch the ‘close’ racing.

I want to watch the ‘actual racing’ …. I don’t want to be wasting time looking into the finer details of things, but I am more than happy for ‘interesting facts’ top be pointed out to me during a broadcast.


Spot on Jako.

All of this nonsense is to distract from the fact that the racing is poor. It contrived, much line DRS. Stop arsing about and fix the racing. There are countless formulas that manage to produce exciting racing. However, F1s inability to get the aero nonsense dealt with is boring.


The first thing to attack is simple…access at a reasonable cost. Here in Aust. i am forced to take a package that i not only only will never ever access, or want, in order to watch my F1. That is simply a blatant rip off. Even Foxtel agreed with me on that comment!!! I am more than happy to pay for my F1Fix but not gouged and ripped off without any recourse!!! Secondly, dispense with all the hoo har of supposed ‘glitter’ it’s just all meaningless plastic trash. This rubbish with ‘grid boys’ is not only stupid but too silly for words, The halo was something we didn’t need and the wonderful sound of angry engines has been almost eliminated on TV so that we are forced to listen to the Sky team inane ramblings,… Is anyone really interested in minutes of chatter about what Croft had for breakfast?. One last gripe is the dumbing down of information re the future of F1. We were supposed to hear what was happening weeks ago and still silence. F1 should at least keep us up to date on where all this going. Don’t treat us all as dummies… Why can’t we have a dedicated outlet called. F1NOW and it could keep all of us tragics in the ‘Know’. The mainstream media won’t do it as they too busy in pushing the Company Line.


Here are my 3 ideas;

1 – Make the hybrid contraption optional.

2 – Do away with the hybrid altogether.

3 – Forget about fuel economy.


A few things have already been mentioned – the trackside CGI ads are my biggest pet peeve as they are still don’t perfectly blend in, and the content is trying too hard to be ‘edgy.’ I think they’re a stop-gap until F1 can sell customized ads, so that the F1 Access feed will have personlized ads for each viewer based on demographics (a 50 yr old subscriber gets the Rolex ads, while a 25 yr old gets Heineken ads.)


In terms of innovation: How about taking all of the live race timing and other data and have it available and synced with the replays. That way, we could go back and watch a race at any time and see all of the timing that is currently only available when we watch the race live.

I’d also settle for the *current* F1 TV Pro service to be fixed! They still have very frequent audio drop outs and glitches that last for several seconds. It’s maddening. They obviously just didn’t want to pay for the full Sky TV feed, so we have the frequent experience of hearing the Sky audio without the accompanying video (ex. the Sky Pad analysis). Both of the these issues are very amateur-ish. I’ve been in touch with their tech support, who have been responsive but nothing changes. Imagine someone new to F1 who pays for the Ft TV Pro service and experience these things. Not a good look.


Let’s face it, none of these ‘innovations’ will come on over the air free TV or even pay TV. You’ll need to sign up for a pay version to be viewed on a computer.


I’d just love them to get their F1TV product working properly. I watch in the States, and as a Brit, am very happy with the concept of paying and watching Sky’s coverage with no ad breaks, but why not just take all of Sky’s pictures as well as the the sound? It’s very strange to listen to the grid walk and not actually be able to see it, for example. And the commentary continually cuts out throughout every session (not the pictures, and not the background sound, just the commentary). It can’t just be me experiencing these issues?!


Most of the fancy overlays at completely unnecessary.

Give us the running order with splits between tv drivers. We don’t need to see who’s made up the most positions, that’s an irrelevant stat. We don’t need to see “live points”, that’s an irrelevant stat, especially outside of a title deciding race.

The “throttle” and “brake” indicators on the halo are a gimmick. The brake indicator literally operates like an on/off switch, which is not how you operate a brake pedal in a race car. The throttle trace shows some gradual application, but is not an actual trace of the drivers pedal movement. Either show the actual, real time pedal movements, or don’t show the graphic at all.

The cgi on the side of the track, whether it’s a giant Heineken star, or a banner saying “Hammer Time” with a pic of Lewis pointing his finger like a gun (note that in American slang, “hammer” can mean fire-arm) is rediculously cheesy and not necessary.

The graphics which show apex speeds and g-forces are welcome, as long as they’re accurate and not just made up guesses.

Archives of old F1 races, in good quality and with English broadcast. Even if they keep the previous 5-10 years behind a paywall, I should be able to go back and watch GPs from the 80s and 90s without having to resort to finding some vhs camcorded Brazilian broadcast. How are new, casual fans supposed to learn about the sport’s history?

I mentioned CGI, and so far I don’t really like the way it’s being applied. That said, with the ability to use CGI to place advertising and the like, can we maybe start a new school of thought on where cameras are placed around the circuit.

• lets get rid of the looooong head on shots that make the cars look pedestrian.

• can we get rid of shots that purposely start and finish on advertising hoarding

• can we get rid of close ups of the barge boards that are so close its impossible to place the car in any type of context other than a sea of black tarmac.

It’s 2018 and we’re still using camera shots and angles from 1982. Let’s get more drones, more cameras on cable cars or “rabbit rails” (not sure what they’re really called, but a camera on a rail that speeds down a straight, parallel with a car as it passes.

Let’s get some HD go-pro style cameras mounted on or in the driver’s helmets so we can get an eye level view of exactly what they’re looking at.

Make more use of picture-in-picture. When cars are on circuit fighting for position, we don’t need to cut to the leader (who is 20s ahead of everyone) making a pitstop. Show the pitstop in a small window in the upper corner, but stick with the on-track action. If anything important happens in the pit stop, show a replay of it on the full screen during a break in the on-track action.

During qualifying, when the top 6 are in the garage and the likes of Haas, Renault, etc are on track setting hot laps….please, STOP showing the top 6 guys sitting in the pit box, and STOP showing close ups of Allison’s bum and Arrivabene’s nose hairs. Show us the cars on track setting flying laps, that’s why people tune in. And if Sky is going to be the global broadcast, they need to learn that not everyone’s favourite driver is in the top 6 teams.

Until F1 gets some decent sound engines, the broadcast does not need a “crank it up” segment 😛



Seems a lot of folks are sharing very similar “common sense” ideas in a variety of fairly objective ways. Sure hope “someone” out there is listening. . .


My stars!!!! 😬


Appreciate the article, James. A very important observation from the narrative above is: “. . .There’s a new mindset, a new philosophy of how we present Formula 1,” says Brawn. “Keep what’s really good about it, make sure we never alienate the traditional fan, but engage the new fans with different technologies. . .”

Keeping ‘. . .what’s good about F-1 broadcasts. . .’ as far as this OLD fan-boy is concerned would be to returning to what’s already been discarded by the “new” management conglomerate: the broadcast format which involved Varsha, Hobbs and Machett. And preferably with those individuals, if at all possible. The producers were not as concerned with 100% air time filled with mindless prattle from the Sky Pundits and the listener received more useful information about what was actually happening on the track along with excellent summaries and analysis following on-track activity. The “grid walk” part could easily be dispensed with as well. But also understand this is the view from someone who has been following F-1 since the ’60’s and may be attuned to a different drummer than the ‘what have you done for me lately’, crowd.

Not sure how to pass this on to Mr. Braun but would appreciate your help in that regard, and feel free to quote me. Thanks again for all you do.


As covered by the comments below it is a shame that Mr Brawn and his colleagues at Liberty Media are missing the obvious. What is the point in having numerous different ways of presenting F1 if a large proportion of it’s fan base can not afford to watch it.

I was a SKY subscriber for all my television, broadband and house phone. This was costing £150 a month = £1,800 a year. This was not and is not a sustainable situation for me. Having stopped Sky I purchased a Freesat box and watch TV for free, my broadband and phone cost £384 a year which I can afford, saving nearly £1,500 a year. Like a lot of fans I am now watching free to air F1 on channel 4. The live races are great but the highlights not so good as I have to avoid any news programmes, emails, my phone or talking to anyone in case I learn of the result before I can view the highlights. There is another way to watch F1 racing live in the UK which is a Now Tv player ( another type of SKY box). However, F1 is part of the ‘sports package’ which means you also have to pay for all the other sports channels even if you never watch them. I believe most F1 fans want to watch qualifying and race live. The now TV passes have various priced deals which are

£7.99 for a days viewing, for 20 races a year this will cost £319.60

£12.99 for a weeks viewing, for 20 races this will cost £259.80 a year

£33.99 for a months viewing for the races will cost £305.91 a year

Remember only a proportion of the fee will go to F1 as it will also subsidise all the other sports. There are probably lots of fans that can’t justify spending the same as a months worth of groceries on watching all F1 races live. They will have to try and find another way to watch their sport next year, in some sort of stripped down version. Of course there is another option of ‘just not bother’

Liberty media want to attract NEW fans to F1, but surely the most important part of their business should be the fan base they already have. I know they inherited the SKY deal from the last owners but I have not heard any hope from them about what they will do for the UK fans in the future. I believe that the Uk fans should be important to liberty and formula 1. Seven of the 10 Formula One teams are based in Britain and invest an estimated £1bn into research and development every year. The Motorsport industry employs more than 40,000 people in the UK. I believe a lot of people go into working in Motorsports due to starting as a fan of F1. If you don’t have the right exposure of F1 (TV) I believe interest and fans will decline. If this happens where will the next Lewis HAMILTON, Ross BRAWN, Adrian NEWEY, Christian HORNER come from?

The message is simple, Liberty please give fans in the UK an affordable way to watch F1 live or be prepared to see viewing figures FALL along with your income.


Having paid over the odds for F1 – Bernie really saw them coming – Liberty have to generate a large revenue stream to pay for their folly. Will their hi-tech offerings attract sufficient takers to match their bisiness model?Good luck to them but I will pass on supporting them. The bottom line is that F1 may not be as universally compelling a proposition as i think they believed it to be. if so it will be painful for them.


– As is with all the others – Do the basics……

1. Keep initiatives like this coming – it matters that fans feel connected – much more than you think. As an ex sponsorship manager – word to the wise analyse, the current crop of sponsors – the overview tells you what the sponsorship sector thinks of F1.

1.B For same reasons is it possible to keep F1 free to air? Maintain a global consumer audience. A mix of pay and free to air would be good – for me and therefore potential sponsors. It is vital that F1 continues to offer the fortnightly Global consumer audience. Its the very basis of the Fi business model. Its unique selling point. An audience of Geeks is not where we or F1 corporate customers want to be. Demi Note, I am about to lose F1 after 30 yrs. I will not be paying because F1 is not good enough for that at the moment. Its also not a simple viewing experience – Its actually quite complicated a sport to access.

2.A Run a proper transparent ‘Sports Championship’ with controlling body offering and ensuring an equal opprtunity to win to All entrants. At the moment 80% of all entrants have no reasonable chance of winning or anything else. Pls note, current sponsor spread across all teams will tell you what commercial enterprises think about that at the moment.

2.B Organisors pls remember: Money is a performance enhancing substance in F1! Showing preference to some teams and not all invalidates the moral and equal basis of the global ‘championship’. It is loaded in favour of some teams and against all others – right from the very beginning. Why would I want to sponsor or even watch?

3. Tracks. How about starting from scratch and set out to provide race tracks that drivers can actually overtake on? New concept! 🙂 At the moment there are many that look like a 100 metre final with only one lane. We all know therefore, the one in the front will win. Boring.

4. Think about the viewers for a moment. Show me who is in the car I am watching. What with everything else and now Halo’s it is impossible for uour audience to work out for themselves who they are watching. Solution Large Visible Driver numbers on – by law. Colours and driver name on air intake – and – inside of Halo – By Law. Just make it accessible. Make me feel i am included not excluded.

6. Keep up the innovation – and continue to involve the viewing public. Good Luck!


I dont really care about all the live data, Ihaven’t got time for all that. I just want to see good racing and close competition.

James when will we find out who has the rights to show highlights next year in Uk??


There may be some good news there for terrestrial viewers


ross brawn looks like one of sidekicks of darth vader…I am sure that was the marketing people’s plan..


Or about to energize on The Star Ship Enterprise. Or will he end up on The Klingon ship aka Sky

Christopher Fox

First give Sky their money back and bring back free to air tv. I even find the current graphics annoying, especially the placings on the left that take up too much space. But first things first, get out of the Sky deal, Channel 4 have been doing a great job. You’ll get millions watching instead of 100k or so with Sky.


Again will said C F

Will they bloody listen I find it hard to believe.

When their ratings plummet they’ll still be signed up to tickling Murduchs dangle berries on SKY Crap1 . Sad state of affairs. They have a solid group of viewers on terrestrial tv …why on earth would you dump it on SKY Bleeding Sports. A yawn fest on a big scale.


Dear JA/Editor,

What about a well researched article during the summer break about the driver market developments and what we can expect to see on who gets to where for next season?

Is Leclerc sure on the Ferrari seat or will latest turmoil and leadership changes mean they stick to their known guns and Kimi gets one more year next to Vettel?

Hulkenberg admits as much himself now that none of the top-3 teams really care much for his service, so he will most probably never get into a race winnng car or at least a WDC contender.

Could it be end of career for Sainz as Renault themselves appear very eager to get Ocon in their seat and if Ricciardo does move anywhere there might be no seat left? Dreadful McLaren or back to ToroRossi are only potentials then…

Haas appear to be a very very patient guy so maybe Grosjean saved his seat by having come good in the last few races. Still Magnussen is whiping the floor with GRO this season and the excuses coming through on the radio from GRO appear endless. Is the teams’ patience really so also? With the car they have this year they should have been in a comfortable 4th place in the WCC.

And then we have Perez filing claims against his own FI racing team, to ‘do them a favour’ by putting them under financial administration?

All as good friends going on vacation together?

Will Stroll Sr step in with the cash to save Force India?

Difficult to see where that mess will end and who might be driving there next year.

Freddos didn’t work well at McLaren but still Sirotkin handed out gold bracelets to all his Williams engineers. Is that any better? Think they all would prefer some WDC/WCC points instead! So interesting to ponder who will be in a Williams seat next year. Even Clair has put her own seat up for debate!

Don’t know if Frank still has the ultimate vote on that one or the family shares have been diluted as fast as their results on track have declined over past few years and the bankers/money men behind will dictate the terms.

That they haven’t lost their sense of humour at McLaren was however clear this weekend when they explicit told Vandoorne that he needed to start beating Alonso to assure his seat with them for next year. Expect see his seat to go to somebody else next year. But who? Hulkenberg having no where else to go?

And editor, can you please get some more resources available to sensor check the posts we make? The current turnaround time of 36-48 hours after posting till it appears online for others to read kills any meaningful debate on this forum.

Exactly what made this forum special in the past.

Or trust some of your vivid posters with this duty, as they are clearly more active on this website than what you are yourself.


The last 3 paragraphs of this poster’s thoughts reflect a whole lot of what others are wondering !


Will do


Thanks, James, and while you’re at the project, it would be nice if you’d reinstate the “credit” process, which for some of us seems to have been abandoned . . . ? ?


james knows a thing or two about economics so i guess he’s using it to dampen down your behaviour.


@ james…whilst we are at it…you have intimated in the past that ‘inbox notifications’ were returning but that was many months ago!!! Will they come back as commenting is becoming so difficult when having to scroll all the way through threads looking for responses? Then to find out that the queries/comments are totally out of synch.


“The F1 Innovation Prize is now in its fifth year and we are proud to say it has been won on several occasions by readers of JA on F1 – so we are keen to keep up our strike rate!” –

So how many times out of five?


I propose onboard views that are not blocked by a massive ring, combined with really good audio from the engine.


Yes, that alone would make a significant improvement.


I would really appreciate being able to hide articles about quali & race results in news apps until I’ve watched the highlights.

It would be useful for some other sports too.


Why can’t they just please get the F1Premium Subscription service to work as intended to?

And also enable we can watch on more than one screen at a time in our household.

Contrary to their objectives they have clearly succeeded in alienating a substantial part of their most valuable F1 Fan Base as we have paid big bucks for this, been promised all kind of fixes and still left with crap experience.

So no reason to tease us further to think big when we see that factually they can’t even get the basics done properly…


they should just show the heart rate of drivers fighting for a position and ket us have the timing data back, free of charge after all they are asking us for free ideas from which they will generate more revenue. please give back to us.


“Recognising the trend towards sports fans looking for customised experiences” – really?


Yes really..


Hi James. Are there examples in other sports where this is the case? Player cam in football? But hardly anyone I know makes use of that. Where are people clamouring for a customisable experience? I just can’t think of any examples.


Hunger Games?


Have to agree with jonl although I did read the article. I think there is increasing Frustration at the lack of access to watching F1 without paying through the nose for it. The Murdoch model of putting everything behind a paywall is a dead end ST.

As for attracting a new and younger audience, no one knows and that’s a fact. The Gen Zs are unique they seem less influenced by traditional advertising. They have grown up in a world of 24/7 connectivity to the rest of the world. They are far less predictable than previous generations. Maybe Liberty should speak to people like Taylor Swift, Youngblood, Khalid or Selena Gomez.

Oh and Gen Z are very green in their outlook for the planet.


I’d settle on being able to see it, and still keeping a roof over my head.



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