Richard Goddard, Force India, info wing test, Yas Marina, 2014

Force India run fan-friendly ‘Info Wing’ at test

2014 F1 season

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Force India have run a new system designed to display information to fans on F1 cars, dubbed the ‘Info Wing’, at today’s test in Abu Dhabi.

The ‘Info Wing’ was designed by Lewis Hamilton’s father Anthony and is intended to display information about a driver’s position in the race via an LCD display.

It could also be used to show which tyre compound a driver is using, who has set the fast lap and other information.

The wing is mounted on top of the car’s airbox and has displays facing left and right. It appeared on the VJM07 while Richard Goddard was testing it on the second and final day of running at Yas Marina.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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90 comments on “Force India run fan-friendly ‘Info Wing’ at test”

  1. Finally a sensible idea in F1.

    1. I don’t understand how this device can help spectators. It sounds completely useless for people on the track since it’s too small and the car is moving too fast. Hope to see some videos to evaluate it properly.

      1. @sarcasm .Sorry that I haven’t write this in my first comment.

      2. @Beyond, the people at the track don’t really need to see it as the majority of spectators are sat watching on TV, also at the track they have large video screens and the on the pit straight there is that totum-pole with the race order. But for armchair viewers, especially the more casual viewer, it would be an excellent tool. Especially tyre compound and track position as after a say a quarter of the race the leaders start lapping people and it can become a little confusing if someone is just learning the way the sport works.
        I guess eventually they will be able to put what ever info they like up there if they so choose. Maybe if the world champion doesn’t want the number 1 on his car (a la Lewis Hamilton) then maybe their could be something on the info-wing to show who is WDC. There is some good opportunity to be had by all who run the sport, if it can simplify things a bit it would be great as I hate explaining to my misses what’s going on, when she does sit and pay attention.

    2. How is this sensible? How does this do anything that the app or anything else already does?

      1. You have to buy the app!

    3. With the generally negative comments on the article so far, we can almost certainly presume it will be implimented for at least a year ;-)

  2. Looks like a good idea!

  3. It’s good that F1 is trying to become more accessible for spectators at the tracks. But I think this is a case of fixing something that isn’t broken and, unfortunately, making F1 cars more standardised and less aesthetically pleasing.

    One of the great things about the new engines being quieter this year is it’s a lot easier to hear the circuit commentators and follow what’s going on. So I don’t think there’s a case for needing a position indicator on the cars. And this information is also communicated to fans in many other ways – via Twitter and apps, for instance.

    As for showing which tyre compound they’re on, that’s already done very effectively by having different coloured tyres. So I really don’t think there’s a need, and if there is surely it can be satisfied by means other than stick this rather naff-looking gadget on top of the cars?

    1. Indeed, couldn’t agree more.

    2. Its Hammer Time
      26th November 2014, 10:37

      COTD elect

    3. Agreed. This could look better on rear wing endplates or sidepods, but there’s not much space for it. Number on this wing looks small, I wonder if it would be visible from the stands.

    4. Am I the only one that likes how it looks? I still doubt its usefulness, though.

    5. awful! Surely they could be spending this money in a better way, like improving the car maybe :)

    6. I don’t think it changes the look of the car that much. I also think for the people attending the race, it’d be easier to spot who’s where, as that is sometimes hard to follow, specially during pit stops (even on the telly).

      So I don’t think it’s a bad idea, appart from what you say about the tyres. My worries, tho, is that it doesn’t seem to be clear enough… At least from those pictures…

    7. While I do follow Twitter and have the F1 app open during the race (and another window with; just in case), certainly we can do better than ask a casual fan to have three different windows open to understand what’s going on? I’m not saying this is a the best idea ever, but seems like an attempt to add value both for users at the circuit and for users at home without overcomplicating things.

      As such, I thing that the idea has merit; and there is too many people just complaining because “everything new is wrong: I my day we didn’t need this, we would know who’s who because we were True Fans(tm), leave the circuit with pierced eardrums, AND WE LIKED IT!”.

    8. @keithcollantine I’m all for testing it, because it finally shows that F1 can consider something to try and improve a factor of discover-ability beyond the narrow-minded short-sighted TV-focused guff that comes from the people who are supposed to be selling this to the masses.

      Of course, what was actually used was too big and didn’t really work. Pretty much to be expected for a proof of concept.

    9. I was thinking it would be cool if they installed bright diffused modern-looking LEDs along the length of the car and when the driver enables DRS, it lights up with a cool lighting animation!

    10. I think you are better off having better screens around the track, or presenting the information in a way that is easier to see.

    11. I don’t think it is fair to judge this on aesthetics, it is a prototype designed to fit on a standard car, if this is implemented I believe the air entry would be redesigned for this to be assembled in a proper and integrated manner.

      I do have to agree that this is useless, the only thing I can think of that could help the spectators is to put bigger numbers on the cars (sponsors won’t like this). When you look at this from the pictures it is already difficult to understand it (it seems like the number 23 is poorly displayed) and the lights that represent the flags are too small and impossible to focus on from the standings

    12. @keithcollantine Theoretically you are right. But I’d find it useful for track position at least.
      This year I went to the Spa Grand Prix, and I noticed some annoying things:

      – Comments are made in three languages: English, French and Dutch. Needless to say they can barely talk about the main plot, you got absolutely no information about 80% of the drivers.
      – There are way too few ‘big’ screens, when they’re big and functioning. Almost impossible to follow the race without it.
      – Smart phones . This year in practice sessions at Spa it rained so much you’d have killed your device. Furthermore, the F1 app is not free, both to own it and to stay connected to receive the data.

      Not broken, maybe, but I’d have enjoyed it. I don’t think it’s a bad idea. They’d better to find a solution to the costs teams are facing though.

    13. So if I’m at the racetrack am I supposed to take out my phone, look at the app, then twitter, etc?
      No thanks, if I go to a race I’ll give my full attention to it. In fact currently I can’t check any of those things while watching races on TV because I have around 4 hours of delay.

      Anyway I actually think this is a neat idea, but there are some technical problems that have to be solved first, like the fact that it can only be used at night (I can barely see a “23” in that picture) or what information will actually be displayed, but it’s better than nothing IMO

    14. There could be a use for a technology akin to this, as fans trackside may not be able to access mobile internet in foreign countries (and I highly doubt all tracks have wifi capabilities). Though this appears to me like a rather ungainly approach.

      I do wonder whether it’d be posisble to simply have a transponder on the car transmit live information about position, tyre age et al, which could be received by a smartphone without the need for a mobile connection. The technology on smartphones is probably not up to standard, but that could be interesting.

      Or, alternatively, have a big screen devoted to displaying driver information for those in the immediate vicinity, to improve readability over the rather small FOM graphics.

    15. Yeah, it’s easy to tell what tyres a car is currently on. What’s annoying about the stats shown on TV is that when they show the drivers’ laptimes they don’t say what tyres those are set on. Makes keeping track of who has done what during qualifying a bit difficult.

  4. What am I supposed to be looking at?

  5. Surely they would be travelling too fast most of the time for such a small display to be visible?

    Is there any more info on this anywhere?

    1. That’s very easy to fix, if they strobe the leds at a high enough rate your eyes won’t see a blurred number anymore, just like old CRT tvs

  6. Daniel (@collettdumbletonhall)
    26th November 2014, 10:41

    Don’t really see much point as it’s quite small and there was never any need for this anyway.

  7. I think it’s an interesting change, the TV overlay will not provide all useful information at all times. And as a spectator it is bound to be quite useful as well. As long as it is clearly readable.

  8. I’d love to see how much Goddard is paying for his seat displayed on that.

    1. (unfortunately it’s not big enough)

  9. How to stop ’em talking about what matters: give ’em something that doesn’t matter.

    1. Who is trying to stop the talking?

  10. Wouldn’t it be easier to have a WEC-style three-light panel on the sidepods? It would add less weight, it’d wouldn’t affect the aero design (as the lights would be flush with the bodywork), and there wouldn’t be a hulking great black thing on top of the airbox (apart from the T-cam, but that’s usually colour-coded to the driver).

    Plus, judging from those pictures, the display is almost impossible to read anyway.

    1. @raceprouk Finally, someone who recognises the similarity between this and what they have in WEC. My understanding is that there will be a whole range of devices covering karts and single seaters and whilst I don’t think it is a wholly original idea, I will have grudging admiration for Anthony Hamilton if this takes off because he stands to make a lot of money. (Sigh, if only I could have thought of it first!)

      1. I was notified about this tagging, unlike the one below.
        And now back to our regular programming…

        I seem to remember that some tin-top series have some sort of position display in the windscreen, but I can’t remember which series it was I saw it in. Obviously, that system can’t work in F1, because the windscreens are half-an-inch tall :)

      2. Besides the 3 Lights display used in the WEC, the TUDOR series and some other sportscar series are already using full numerical displays that are perfectly visible in sunlight for quite a while already. I found a patent for this “new idea” already submitted in 2003…

  11. Useless. Just another thing to capture the attention of the random tv user

    1. So, not so useless then.

  12. What that cost-increasing gadget means? I, 28 years-old with good visual acuity, can read what that ‘Info Wing’ displays.
    With a bit of imagination, it looks to be a 23 on the main picture

    1. The LEDs are not lit though.

  13. I like the concept but there needs to be debate on what info is shown and how it is shown. For me, it would be great if we could see more info regarding the use of the hybrid electric power – imagine the extra excitement if we could see that the lead car got a good exit from the corner but needs to harvest energy, whereas the chasing car has full batteries and is about to launch an attack…
    Also, the LEDs look rather retro – we need some hi tech (amoled?) screen that sits flush to the bodywork.

  14. About as much use to fans as the Silverstone Wing.

  15. Ugly and unnecessary – which probably means it’ll be made compulsory for next season.

    1. and redbull will make it flex and get huge advantage !

  16. Sorry, but this is just stupid.

  17. While this first attempt may not be the best to take forward, it does try to address problems for fans at the track. The big screens don’t show enough information if, like me, you want the kind of timing info that you get from the F1app. But I’ve struggled with mobile signals/WiFi at some tracks, so if there’s another way to display I’d welcome it. It’s at least a sign of recognition that there’s a problem with the experience of attending a live race which I’d good. But yes, I think it’s possible that the cars will be travelling too fast for this to be truly helpful.

  18. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    26th November 2014, 11:53

    @keithcollantine in other news… do you ever sleep? Round-up at midnight, Live test at 4am, this article at 10am… I’m starting to think you are like Al Pacino in “the Devil’s Advocate” when his friends get into his apartment and wonder “where is the bedroom?”
    it is a joke just in case. Well, this wing is a joke too!

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        26th November 2014, 13:23

        @optimaximal ok, so you are sure keith doesn’t drink too much coffee? ;P

    1. @omarr-pepper
      Or even Al Pacino in ‘Insomnia’ :P

  19. Well at the risk of being in a minority of one (possibly two), I think there is merit in the idea. As a race progresses and the leaders start to encounter back markers, it can sometimes be a little confusing as to which car is in which position. And so I sort of like the idea of an on-car display showing me who is where etc. I agree that there would be limitations and causes for confusion, such as Car A passes Car B part way round a lap, but the display is only updated when they pass the finish line at the end of the lap et cetera. But I think it has its usefulness. Forget the tyres; the colour codes stand out perfectly, and I’m not sure about the pit stop idea either.
    The pic of the FI at the top of the article, though: is the display actually switched on and working? And I agree with @raceprouk, it is a bit monstrous, isn’t it, can’t it go on the wing endplate?

    1. I have never in my life been confused about which car is in which position while watching on TV, and I can’t imagine being able to see anything on this thing, judging by my previous experiences watching races from the stands.

      The other thing is, led lights during sunny days throughout spring and summer (what most F1 races look like), are completely useless and invisible.

      1. Well, I have. And I know I’m not alone, I heard enough tv commentators making mistakes about such a thing as well. Or about which pilot in the team we are talking about.

        Might not be the a panacea, but to trash this idea just because it’s new and “I don’t need so can’t fathom anyone else finding it useful” doesn’t seem very sensible. Implementation of the idea seems to be quite cheap for F1 standards, and obviously the concept is not yet finalized and there is lot of room for improvement.

        But investing some effort to actually provide more information to the fans, making the show more accessible and understandable without having to resort to watching three screens at the same time seems like a pretty reasonable endavour to me.

    2. Tagged in a post but no notification… oh well, guess it’s just one of those things.

      Theoretically, the info could go on the wing endplate, but I seriously doubt any teams will want to give up valuable sponsorship space just for an info display. Plus the additional bulk of the display unit will seriously hamper aero flow, and the teams would want that even less. That’s sorta why I suggested WEC-style lights on the sidepods, as it’d be fairly easy to integrate them into the bodywork and fit them around the sponsor decals.

  20. This is a wholly outdated and aesthetically crude idea. Given that other motorsports (NASCAR as an example) already have great on-screen visual overlays for race positions and data, this is a solution than might have been designed in the 1980s. F1 are already implementing virtual advertising so it is no impossible to do.

    Trackside, once again why not just use technology and use augmented reality via a smart phone app so that the viewer can choose to see the data as and when they want it, rather than be blighted by a permanent, crude LED stuck on the side of the car? F1 drives technology in many areas, but satisfying the spectator is a long way down on that list. It shouldn’t be and it needn’t be.

  21. Agreed. An archaic solution to a problem that never really existed. I can work out which position people are in for myself thanks. And I’ll just look at the colour of the tyres. And yes they really need to improve the app, the design is outdated, it has some horrible responsiveness and connectivity issues (everytime I lock my iphone and want to open the app I have to do the app selection thing where you flick up to reset it) and the rates they charge for that should sure include just about every bit of information you could possibly cram in without the teams feeling cheated. They could implement basic telemetry, onboard footage and all the other things like ERS usage and expected inlaps. And I’d like to know how Anthony Hamilton designed them. Did he invent LED’s? Or just have the mother of all epiphanies and realise they can be put on an F1 car. Look at the bigger problems F1.

    1. meant to be reply to @gregkingston . sozza

  22. why is lewis Hamilton’s dad designing things on f1 cars now? force india should better spend their time and money, they could be next after marussia and caterham instead of doing this pointless exercise. anyway that watches f1 in the grandstands, if they are there to follow the race, and not the spectacle, then they know who is leading and who is where. there are many people that go for the spectacle (probably less now because of the inferior sound), and they don’t care if a force india is 12th, and they never will.

  23. petebaldwin (@)
    26th November 2014, 13:26

    It’s an interesting idea in theory but I’m not sure what good it would do overall. If you’re watching live, would you be able to read it and if you’re watching on TV, would you need to read it?

  24. What I would like to see on this board is the number of laps done on a set of tires. It’s sometimes difficult to follow who has just done his pit stop and who is about to enter the pits to change his tire. This would be more relevant than actual ‘sometimes artificial’ position in the race.

  25. maarten.f1 (@)
    26th November 2014, 13:55

    I love how Formula 1 excels at creating solutions that do not exist.

    1. maarten.f1 (@)
      26th November 2014, 13:57

      oops, should’ve read: solutions for problems that do not exist.

      Where’s an edit button when you need one…

  26. FlyingLobster27
    26th November 2014, 13:56

    Once again, F1 follows trends rather than setting them. We’re going down the MotoGP route with the driver numbers and Bernie’s proposal of “Super-GP2” – this is CRT or Open, call it what you will, it’s still conning small structures into taking part under affordable, yes, but voluntarily uncompetitive conditions. Now with Slow Zones and position indicators, it wants to look like endurance racing. Indicator lights have been at Le Mans for, I forget, 5-7 years now, and the Blancpain Endurance Series and USCC have used numerical displays this year.
    But like I said for Slow Zones, which is handy on an 8-mile track like Le Mans but not so much in F1, who needs a position indicator when there are only 18 cars on the grid, and the colour of a car (silver at the front, green at the back) usually gives away enough of an idea of where it is?

    OT and speaking of Slow Zones, I’ve read on NextGen-Auto that the FIA’s F1 Commission is asking to remove standing restarts. Sense looks like it’s finally kicking in after a year which has seen a lot of stupid things being said and taken seriously.

  27. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
    26th November 2014, 14:22

    If the lights go out at Abu Dhabi/Bahrain/Singapore will it be a useful flashlight?

  28. Some sort of LED lighting could be useful for certain things; for example if a car is lapped then a certain colour light comes on so that spectators who are at the track can see who is still on the lead lap at a glance. But to be honest there are so many other ways that F1 could interact with fans. Hopefully one day there will be an option to access on board cameras from a smartphone or tablet at the trackside. That way you could watch your favourite driver on other parts of the track, or follow battles over a whole lap. I doubt that will ever happen though!!

  29. A tiny screen on a car moving 250 kmph?

  30. Ugly & totally unnecisary.

    Yet another thing thrown in for no reason to answer a question nobody was asking.

  31. I’m curious, how exactly did Anthony Hamilton “design” this? I don’t think he invented led lights, nor carbon fiber composites layering technique, nor is he an aerodynamicist to design a wing that would be something that can be put on a car without interfering too much with the overall package.
    So did he design this, or he got a not-that-good idea for a solution to a non-existent problem and decided to throw some money on some designers and engineers to make it happen?

    Seems like a project done by someone who did zero research and has no clue about the technologies and possibilities to actually come to the best solution for this still non-existent problem.

  32. F1 elitism at its best. I would be less harsh, if this gimmick happened to be designed by a young lad from north London, not by the champions father, who in no doubt will make millions. Joke of a sport.

  33. I don’t really see the point of this.

    We can see which tyre compound is been run via the color of the Pirelli logo on the sidewall of the tyre. I also don’t really see why you would be looking for fastest lap data on a tiny display like this as every car was going by?

    The timing/positions display is also shown on the large screens around the track & there’s the trackside PA systems which also give this info on top of the various mobile/tablet app’s from FOM & the TV broadcasters which also have the timing data.
    These are all surely far better sources of information than a tiny display which I doubt will be that visible in most cases.

    Not to mention the fact that it looks as ugly as some of the horns & other flaps that were stuck all over the cars Pre-2009.

    If you want to give fans in the stand more access to information then just bring back those fan-vision things which they used to have available tracks until recently.
    Sticking small, ugly displays on the side of the T-cam’s is not the way to go.

  34. Might need some improvement but works for me. Normal F1 fans might understand car positioning on the track but there a many chaotic races where even the most avid of fans can get confused not to talk about the new and casual fans. So if F1 wants to get new fans involved, then this is one option to pursue.

  35. If it helps commentators get their facts straight, great. Last race I tried something new and had timing screens, onboard , tv feed and lap gps markers all with onboard sound, it was surprisingly a really good, less irritating experience. I could see what was going on, clearly.

    But as a track side fan, why not make a smart app you get with your entry fee, uses gps to know you position, lift phone up and point (using gyro), triangulates and gives you info of car following in view finder (or multiples) and ability to record or take photos at the same time. As when I have been most have some sort of device covering their view point at times in the race anyway.

  36. What about the aerodynamic advantages / disadvantages?
    Surely this has been developed with aero in mind, I’m very interested as to what this wing would mean to the setup of the car, would it seriously affect the air flow of the rear wing? Would it add significant downforce ?

    I like this idea, imagine the driver who had just set the fastest lap having a bright purple led ring flashing around the other information displayed! Drivers would (should) be able to see this too, what about some kind of display to show the driver was deploying ers, it would imo add another dynamic to the spectators and drivers.

    In this day and age with the revolution of wearable smart devices i envisage maybe one day having things like heart rate monitors and a massive display of each drivers bpm and core temperature flashing on the rear wing, that would be kool ! :p

  37. It needs to show the battery state, then it would be brilliant.

  38. So F1 is killing itself with ever increasing budgets. Remember when cars had their number on the sides of the rear wing? I do.
    Yes, displaying sponsors is important. But there’s more than enough room for both.
    The cost of the Hamilton Sr. solution……..£££££
    The cost of a large readable number (or two if it’s double digits)……£

    1. I like your point but f1 has to advance with the times and the rapidly advancing technology.
      If it doesn’t it isn’t relevant or attractive enough to modern day society and especially the younger and future generations.
      Gadgetry and innovation gets attention..

      1. According to Bernie F1 doesn’t need to be relevant to modern society or the younger generation as young fans don’t have any money to put into his empire…

  39. GB (@bgp001ruled)
    26th November 2014, 19:53

    what a stupid, idiotic idea!!! and it was design by hamiltons father! so it is clear: he wants to milk the cow somehow! cant believe force india fell for that…

  40. They already use these in the American Lemans series. I saw them at Road Atlanta located in the panels behind the doors.

  41. Dubai24h, Daytona Rolex24h, Sebring12h, Zandvoort12h, Barcelona24h, Petit Lemans, 32hMaxiendurance, Sliverstone24h etc etc. they al use the system already, here is the Off-Track #F1 test with this system

  42. If only there were an affordably available portable display to allow users to follow the TV coverage…

    Oh, wait. We had that, and it went bust.

  43. To be honest with you, I question weather or not the camera itself needs to be that size anymore. Or is it stipulated in the regs? The camera size has literally not changed in 16 years. With the advance in camera technology since then, could they not come up with something smaller?

    1998 McLaren MP4-13:

    2014 Mercedes W05 Hybrid:

    Just a thought.

  44. So in the last week that’s one win and one fail for the Hamiltons. Ah well, can’t win ’em all!

    Actually when I read the title I thought it might be some sensors on a front wing giving real time data to the fans, that would’ve been cool. But they probably wouldn’t give anything interesting away for competitive reasons.

  45. this is surely just a joke

  46. They use this kind of system in the TUDOR USCC and it works great, it’s small, but because it’s LED lit it’ll stand out.

    Kind of pointless about tyre compound, however for position indication it’s great.

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