“F1 should go beyond what is safe & ‘normal’ and empower the fans” 
Innovation
Posted By: Editor   |  10 Aug 2018   |  10:24 am GMT  |  137 comments

2015 F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize winner and two-time finalist Paul Clarke shares his thoughts on what it means to be part of this annual competition.

For motorsport and technology fans, the F1 Innovation Prize is a unique chance to shape the future of the sport – and win $50,000 in the process.

Entries will be judged by the combined might of Tata Communications, Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, offering fans and technology enthusiasts a chance to compete in F1’s only global crowdsourced innovation competition.

We spoke to previous winner and two-time finalist Paul Clarke about what’s it’s like to be a part of this groundbreaking competition, his inspiration and how he would like to see the sport evolve in the future.

What inspired you to take on the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize?

I’ve been a fan of the sport for as long as I can remember and the opportunity to have my ideas in front of an amazing panel of judges was just too good to resist. I’ve followed Lewis throughout his career, and knowing that Paddy Lowe may potentially see my ideas in 2015 was epic! Over the years, this has still been my inspiration and knowing that Ross Brawn judged my idea to be a finalist again last year was out of this world. I’ve made some great friends over the three years I’ve entered, made some valuable connections and I look forward to the challenge each year.

What was the challenge you faced, and what was your winning idea?

The 2015 challenge was around data visualisation and my concept was to leverage powerful web technologies to develop the most appropriate interface for the team. It’s backed by near real-time, low latency communications (MQTT), which have since become the industry standard. The concept also included communication streams that aid the team with decision making. On top of this, my Signals and Streams concept also included an autonomous artificial engineer, which was able to compute vast quantities of engineering data instantly and convey this back to the team.

What skills and experience did you bring to the challenge?

I’ve worked in the IT industry for around 20 years and I’ve been an F1 fan for even longer. I specialise in solution architecture and user experience, which gives me a perfect balance of skills to tackle the challenge. I grew up in a family that loves motorsport and lived close to Snetterton. My father worked for Van Diemen and Lotus on F1 cars, so I was always destined to be involved in the sport in some manner.

How have you found entering the F1 Innovation Prize has changed your viewing experience as a fan of Formula 1?

The challenges have heightened my senses when it comes to innovation opportunities within the F1. I’m not sure if I could be any more dedicated to the sport, but it has certainly caused me to consider smart ways to enhance my viewing experience. Fortunately, this year’s challenge has been a great outlet for these ideas and I’m excited to see what advances it will bring to the sport.

What impact has winning the prize had on you?

Winning and being a finalist for the past two years has been the most amazing ride. My wife is as crazy about the sport as I am, so being able to share the experience with her has been incredible. It has given us some great adventures and we’ve made some great friends. I had the pleasure of meeting Bernie [Ecclestone] in the paddock Abu Dhabi and discussing my ideas with Lewis, Paddy, Ross and James Allen over the years. Hearing Martin Brundle, Mehul Kapadia and John Morrison talk about me and my concepts gives me chills; plus, seeing my ideas up in lights makes me incredibly proud. This prize is something that I believe is very important to the sport, so it is something that I talk very passionately about with friends, family and colleagues – the more ideas the better!

How do you see F1 evolving as we prepare to move into a new era?

I think the evolution of F1 over the next few years is going to include some of the biggest changes that the sport has seen in a long time. Whilst I have a great respect for the effort that has gone into bringing the sport into everyone’s living room and the incredible engineering it has produced; I believe the new era will give even more back to the fans. There is a level of expectation this new generation of F1 fans has and it is important for the sport to embrace those demands and go beyond what is ‘safe’ or ‘normal’ and empower the fans to experience the sport in new and exciting ways. It has therefore been great to see that this year’s Innovation Prize challenged those norms and provided a great platform for some amazing ideas.

What changes would you like to see in the sport?

Something that I’ve been passionate about is actually seeing the ideas and innovations that have made their way into the challenges over the years, make it to the sport. The thrill of knowing that my ideas would be seen by the who’s who of the sport is great, for them to judge it to be a finalist and then a grand prize winning idea is unbelievable; but if that idea was then able to make its way into the sport, that would be the cream on top. So it is great to see that one of the outcomes of this year’s challenge is to potentially put it through an incubator program, which has further encouraged me to find some clever ideas for this year’s competition. Beyond having the greatest drivers and engineers compete on the world stage? I’m not sure you can top that.

Click here to register your interest for next year’s challenge.

By: Jennifer Mason

All images: Motorsport Images

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1

Whenever I start reading word like

Empower

Absolutely

Connectivity

Sustainability

. . . . I know I am in deep BS.

2

Next weekend when you hook up with your friends, regurgitate this to them. But do it dead serious like your passionate about it.

The tell us if they beat you up. You know….tough love.

3

I think the prize should go to anybody that can tell me what the hell he was dribbling on about.

So I think the idea is to put so much information on a screen in front of the viewer, that they don’t have time to actually look at a race track & see a multi million dollar boring procession.

4

For me the rocket like advancement of computer technology as demonstrated by this guy is just about all that’s wrong with F1. Virtual engineer? Pah!

F1 should be about men and machines, not algorithms.

Luddite? No.

Motorsport fan? Yes.

I want to be overawed by the raw skills and bravery of the drivers, not the genius of software designers.

5

Could on if these IT geniuses find a way to block the gratuitous bings and bongs that sound every time another unnecessary graphic crowds the screen?

Now that would be worth $50k on it’s own!

6

This is all fluff and nonsense. Liberty want to ‘sell’ F1, increase and diversify audiences, and influence media output. But they’re going about it ithe wrong way. Outside of North America I think the audience will see straight through this ploy, there is no substance.

The message from this hardened F1 fan is focus on improving the racing! We watch for THE RACING, I’m only interested in what happens on track.

Thank goodness I can record the shows, and avoid the relentless guff and padding are spoiling the spectacle.

Thankfully the top two (nearly three) teams have done a great job, Ferrari especially getting their act together, and the midfield battle is fascinating this year. Great job by teams, and we have seen some great racing. Hooray!

Just about everything else about F1 misses the mark and is clinging to the coat-tails of this great event.

A poor and irrelevant article, symptomatic of F1’s current woes. Please make it stop.

7

He streams what with who? When?

I dont need to be empowered either.

I just want to watch f1 on TV without forking out a lung for it

8

Hi James, I’ve been an avid reader of this blog since it’s beginning in 2009 used to love all it’s in depth articles that differed from the usual news streams. This year I feel that the quality of the content has somewhat declined and this blog offers little difference to mainstream media outlets. Like the ‘complex’ article above, I get that due to more commitments you are unable to write every blog yourself like you once did, and if you were to look in the archives at articles from previous seasons you’ll be able to see the fantastic journalism that once made this blog the best for fans of this sport we love.

9

I think James sold the website to Motorsport.com, think that was the turning point for it.

10

@ CTAY…Good post. I couldn’t agree more. I would also add [ again ] the fact that navigating the comments is fastly becoming a such a rime consuming chore that it may just be enough to ensure my future interest! It’s crazy when a thread hits almost 1000 posts.

11

OOOOps…’my future interest IS SERIOUSLY REDUCED….

12

50000? In a billion dollar business? Robbing the fans ideas is in correlation robbing the fans racing action by concentrating on maximizing profits.

13

Not read the article yet, but the title is very apt, considering what I have ready to paste in here:

So, teams read this site, do they?

I’m watching Hungarian Practice Two, about 19 minutes left, Ocon’ pit stop; the mechanic taking the front left tyre off, has his leg in front of that tyre – Oi, knock that [mod] off, that’s how the Ferrari mechanic got hurt.

14

Here’s an idea,how about ’empowering’ the fans by making it easier for the race cars to follow each other and overtake without wrecking their tyres.

I think we’d all rather the cars were a tad bit slower if we got better races. Thats all the race fans want really. The article above is completely irrelivent.

15

I don’t want to be empowered. I want to turn on my TV and watch high quality competitive racing.

Football, tennis, ice hockey, gridiron football, and other sports don’t need to empower me. I just want to relax and be entertained on Sundays.

16

Whilst I envy those with the technical ability to come up with a competition winning entry I am dismayed that this competition is not focussed on improving the racing & the attraction of F1 & Motorsport in general. Ever since Ross Brawn was employed by the current owners we have been promised major changes to make the sport more spectacular by increasing overtaking. As an F1 fan since the early 1950’s I don’t see any improvements whatsoever. Ok there has been artificial means to aid overtaking but no other real improvement to make the cars more balanced when following each other. Surely the answer is to remove both the front & rear wings & force the designers to come up with a body shape which doesn’t need these multi million dollar attachments. I would argue that F1 produced better racing in the 50’s & 60’s when there were no wings. The driver was as important as the car itself & it would halve the cost of F1. God help us if Formula E becomes the new F1.

17

I normally love the articles on this website but this one left me absolutely clueless. The headline had nothing to do with the article and the interview questions were pretty mundane. Rarely seen Such a poorly written article

18

@deepak

Welcome to the new JAonF1 👍

19

We have now been exposed to TATA two articles in a row, three if you include my conment to this. I expect getting a piece of the cake please

20

Anyone feel tense during this summer shutdown?

Although I complain a lot about the current state of F1, this season must be one of the best in many years.

That doesn’t say too much about the quality of the races and other aspects though. 4 years of total donination of one team takes it’s toll. Before that RBR, although not this kind of domination. RB, McLaren and Ferrari have had stints of more or less domination during the 2000s. To be a bit crass that goes even further back in history. But this Merc domination must be unprecedented. F1 fans must be a very recilient breed, but many others must have given up and ditched the sport because of this.

If you add boring races and very few close combats with almost no overtaking and enginered races, It starts to pile up even for the most resilient ones one can imagine

But to to end this post on a good note. I’m really looking forward to Spa, there are plenty of interesting aspects that should exhilarate fans no matter the driver they are supporting or even if they are not supporting any one in particular.

.

21

@Chris D

No matter what, no matter when, I’m always looking forward to Spa.

22

But I’m all with you Mick. The corruption of the english language is a horribel thing. I hear you.

23

Reread and try again. This will be your homework intill then.

24

You are looking for the tread about linguistics, this is F1. Go to google and type grammar or linguistics, in a language of your choice. Meet you there if I feel the urge to debate that.

25

I hear you man. It’s been a slog and the Merc domination era has been the toughest to endure yet!!

When I read this article I kinda felt like, wow, this guys found a more efficient way to sprinkle glitter on a dog turd!

26

If Hamilton/Mercedes win again this season, will that just be tacked on to their era of dominance? It shouldn’t.

Mercedes are not dominant this year. The Ferrari is the quicker and better car right now. They weren’t dominant last year either. Only 2014-16 were truly dominant years.

27

I agree. Vettel could have this title in the bag already, but again he’s been too prone to making misstakes under pressure. Instead Lewis now has a massive chance to take the title and probably will. This year he can show how good he really can be against an other team that is on par or even better. But Vettel has really not made the best of that machine.

28

This article sums up F1 at the moment.

Too much waffle ,very little substance.

Good intentions but lets focus on making the racing better. All the other nonsense doesnt matter. If the racing is better there is no need to focus on mundane details such as mentioned in this article.

Please fix F1 before looking into this waffle

29

Empower the fans?

Can someone explain how fans are empowered? I just dont understand what fans get out of this

30

Empowered means we’re allowed to turn off the tv when we’re falling asleep during the race.

31

Can someone translate this article into English please? What was his winning idea? I have read it repeatedly but cannot understand what it is.

James Allen – A suggestion, an article like this needs something visual for the ordinary fan to understand whats going on.

32

Short of giving away any secrets, it would have been interesting to have a little more detail on the ideas that won the contest. Sometimes, the world of IT can be obscure for non-IT professionals. Nonetheless, I have a question for Mr. James Allen and others who are knowledgeable on the subject matter. There is a technological boom happening with drones. Would it not be feasible to have a drones following on-track action? Helicopters have covered this role for many decades. However, given the giant leaps in communication and digital technologies, using drones for broadcasting F1 races seems to be a logical progression. Instead of one or two helicopters, you can have many small drones continuously circulating the track. Perhaps up to 20 small drones, one for each car/driver. Perhaps someone has already thought of these ideas but there are good reasons why it’s not applied today… I look forward to your feedback.

Thank you

33

Drones aren’t fast enough to follow F1 car, nor have enough of a range to follow the entire race.

Also, for example, what if they collide in mid air (following two cars racing each other) and fell on the track and ruin someones race in the process?

34

What the hell ?

Bro, why exactly do you like F1 and what exactly did you do because I doubt Lewis knows either by the look on his face.

And we wonder why this sport is so lost its way.

35

Just give us decent racing that is all please

36

Yeah.. Should stick a blind guitarist in front of F1 cars while racing in the desert.

37

Connectivity begins with accessibility – as simple as that – and in Australia and many other territories accessibility has become very limited.

This man won 50,000 and a year or so later can’t direct his answers to outline any specific ‘innovation’ that he is being asked about. No-one is therefore any wiser having read it! Incredulous.

38

What was the challenge you faced, and what was your winning idea?

The 2015 challenge was around data visualisation and my concept was to leverage powerful web technologies to develop the most appropriate interface for the team. It’s backed by near real-time, low latency communications (MQTT), which have since become the industry standard. The concept also included communication streams that aid the team with decision making. On top of this, my Signals and Streams concept also included an autonomous artificial engineer, which was able to compute vast quantities of engineering data instantly and convey this back to the team.

So, what did he say, and how does it benefit the fan?

39

This guy has helped improved the sport and yet some just want to try and belittle.

Wish I had the talent to be in a position to be interviewed after being in the finals three times.

40

@Fleetz I don’t wana come over all Kenneth and give you a patronising “wrong” but the SPORT itself has not been improved whatsoever from this innovation. It will allow fans better access to data potentially but It doesn’t improve racing or anything that happens on track, which is where the real problems are!

41

The thing is it’s a positive step. It’s not an either-or situation … it’s not as though you could say “just redirect the resources we spent with this, and we could ensure that the cars run 20-abreast for good portions of each race”. There’s lots that needs fixing. I don’t think canning this would get us anywhere closer to where we want the racing to be. So then why pooh-pooh it? Again, it’s just another snapshot of the world we live in, where people on the sidelines snipe away at anyone who dares to do anything productive.

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