Ferrari SF71H cockpit camera, Spa, 2018

Why Ferrari puts a bag over its onboard camera

2018 Italian Grand Prix

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Ferrari has been spotted covering its onboard FOM camera with a bag when its car is not running on the track.

The practice has caught the eye of rival teams. It prompted speculation Ferrari was covering its camera to prevent the team’s activities being observed in between runs during practice and qualifying.

RaceFans has learned Ferrari took the decision to cover its camera partly in response to an incident at a previous race weekend when a rear-facing camera was accidentally activated while the car was in the garage. This resulted in footage of sensitive parts of its car including the engine and rear suspension being broadcast.

However there is also a practical reason for Ferrari’s decision.

The operating temperature range of Formula 1’s onboard cameras is between 50 and 120C. However Ferrari has discovered the heat soak from its car when stationary has been high enough to overheat the camera and cause it to automatically switch off.

This is a particular problem for Ferrari as it relies on the data collected by the camera and purchases the footage from FOM for its own use. The team has therefore begun cooling the camera between runs by placing a bag over it and packing it with dry ice.

The overheating problem was first discovered during the particularly high temperatures at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix. Mercedes has recently followed suit.

RaceFans understands FIA race director Charlie Whiting visited FOM’s broadcast centre on Wednesday seeking clarification as to its reasons for camera cooling.

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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45 comments on “Why Ferrari puts a bag over its onboard camera”

  1. Ferrari mechanic goes to the bathroom right after parc-ferme

    The practice has caught the eye of rival teams

    Getting a bit ridiculous now

    1. Two mechanics go to the bathroom right after parc-ferme, and WADA sits up and takes note ;-)

      1. Heh, yes, that reads like a scene from a not too distant cycling tour or olympics @phylyp!

      2. Agris Rūmītis
        31st August 2018, 2:23

        three mechanics go to bathroom.
        four mechanics go to bathroom.
        every one go to bathroom
        you too go to bathroom
        me too go to bathroom
        what should we make out of your post?

    2. Indeed, I’m not sure quite why everyone is so suspicious of Ferrari these days. They are doing a great job and should be praised.

      1. ferrari have been in f1 long enough to learn all the tricks……..they even invented some.

        1. oh no….did he just say “tricks”…..here we go again…..

  2. Bjornar Simonsen
    30th August 2018, 13:51

    Why is it that when Ferrari are doing well they must be somehow cheating (more than the others that is), but when others are doing well, they’re just doing a good job? It’s like the Sky F1 crew the last race, continually insisting that their pace was due to their engine only, as if insinuating that their pace is somehow less legitimate that way.

    1. Sorry but that is absolute rubbish. Red Bull got years of suspicion for ‘flexi wings’ and Mercedes got years of suspicion for ‘party modes’ and it wasnt just qualifying, they were accused repeatedly of not making the same modes available to customer teams in the race also.

      1. Mercedes (and other engine manufacturers) are rightly accused of not giving customers the same modes and specification of engines. It’s not a speculation, it happened and everyone involved know it.

        I agree about the rest of the comment. Red Bull specifically gained a lot of attention for cheating during their championship winning years.

        1. @fer-no65 then why since the engine mode parity clarification in January are Ferrari and Mercedes as far ahead of their customer teams as ever? Moreso this year than any other actually.

        2. As did Ferrari @fer-no65 (including flexi rear-wing and a long lasting elasti-stay at the front that only got found out due to, we now know, spygate).

      2. Yeah it’s true that Mercedes was giving sub-par engine software to their customers, so they wouldn’t extract the engine’s full potential. Everybody knows this.

    2. It’s like the Sky F1 crew the last race, continually insisting that their pace was due to their engine only

      Yeah because literally no-one said Mercs pace 2014-2016 was because of their engine only

      as if insinuating that their pace is somehow less legitimate that way.

      Nah that is just your bias showing.

    3. In order to cheat, you must first have a rule. I am not aware of a rule saying teams cannot cover that camera in their garage.

  3. *Puts on tinfoil hat*

    The camera is overheating because of the NSA surveillance equipment. Wonder when McLaren will find where the bug in their car is.

    1. The bug isn’t on or in their car.
      Nothing worth to be seen there. Lots of things that don’t work, but I wouldn’t blame it on a bug
      The upper management and the design department realy needs to be fixed though :p

  4. Unless they are are running some stupidly high res cameras where the sensor overheats there is no need for cooling for the camera module.

    1. I wonder if perhaps they are running a 4k camera, to future proof it. Especially if teams also use the images themselves, I could imagine they are.

      1. @bosyber The on-car cameras are all 1080P/60fps. The current units were introduced from the start of 2016.

    2. The T-cam housing isn’t just carrying the forward/rearward facing camera, There is other electronics in it as well as the transmitter sending the signal to the trackside nodes.

      That said i’d be amazed if it was purely an overheating issue as every car has to carry the T-cam & it doesn’t seem to be an issue on other cars. It’s also the same design & specification that has been in use since the start of 2016 when they made the switch to the current HD units.

      1. Thanks for that confirmation @gt-racer, and those great pics of the inside below.

        The article does mention that Mercedes now started doing this too, so I wonder if the current cars are so on the limit of cooling that in-between runs, the whole airbox heats up, or whether there is some other benefit.

        Because it is hard to imagine it getting over 120C, indeed, in that case wouldn’t we see remaining raindrops evaporate off, I mean, boiling hot seems quite dangerous for the outside of the car to work on!

        1. Heat soak when stationary.

          Also this is about temperature internal to the housings. We won’t see raindrops evaporating because we don’t see pictures from cars sat stationary for extended periods of time.

          Yes it’s entirely feasible that you’re going to see hot bodywork temperatures given the extreme environments and tight packaging involved. You see this with road cars too, it’s the reason my car likes to sit on my bonnet and then scratch the hell out of it when he slides off!

          1. “My CAT likes to sit on my bonnet…”

            (Need an edit button)

          2. Good point @johnnik, and lol, cats are quite something :)

    3. The camera is not overheating due to its own electronics… It is overheating due to the design of Ferraris car. It is the engine heat that is causing the camera to overheat.

      What strikes me even more is that the teams have to purchase the footage from FOM! This just screams of how crappy F1 is.

  5. Charles Lindbergh
    30th August 2018, 14:38

    Hi Dieter, can you elaborate on Ferrari’s purchase of the FOM onboard footage? This is quite curious because (perhaps I’ve missed it but…) Ferrari doesn’t seem to use this footage for their media strategy (instagram, twitter, etc.).
    In the past, FOM would provide this footage for free, for internal use. So given that we don’t see much of the Ferrari onboards in the public domain, why must they pay, and how much does it cost?

    1. Very impressive pictures, thank you, @gt-racer

      Any idea what’s the weight of the unit? I thought it was mostly an empty fitment just shaped like that for aero reasons, but there’s a lot more stuff in it (as mentioned in another comment, transponders, etc.)

    2. @gt-racer I thought they had just replaced the front/back units with 360 degree cameras? Or have I jumped the gun and that’s coming soon?

      1. @optimaximal They are running 360 degree cameras this year but not as part of the TV broadcast as they don’t broadcast live feeds. The 360 cameras are mounted on the front of the car just ahead of the Halo, Every car must have a place for one although only 6 cars actually carry one as they only have 6 right now.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3193SP6bnRM

        The on-car cameras used for live TV broadcast are all static cameras & are unchanged since the start of 2016. And as far as i’m aware there are currently no plans to replace them with rotating units.

        They did have a 180 degree rotating camera on the side of Hamilton’s car at the end of 2017 but are not using it this year.
        https://youtu.be/V-mxNZNoZIs?t=48s

  6. Anyone spying on Ferrari should remember this is a 100 million Euros fine

  7. Kudos on Racefans for bringing this (and so many other) exclusive pieces this year.

    I don’t agree to the criticism directed towards the competitors that they should stop questioning Ferrari’s unique tactics. One or few of these techniques could be the reason why Ferrari have become so fast suddenly. If rival teams don’t question, they won’t know which of Ferrari’s practice is harmless, which is important, and which is simply a smoke screen. After all, questions over their battery revealed that they are using a novel (but legal) dual battery concept. There may be more such tricks. It is great for the fans also to know them as well.

  8. “This is a particular problem for Ferrari as it relies on the data collected by the camera and purchases the footage from FOM for its own use.”

    They have to purchase footage from FOM, footage of their own car taken from a camera on their own car – wow.

    1. @ahxshades FOM own all footage taken during a GP weekend, Including the video/images shot by fans as well as everything recorded by broadcasters at the track both video & audio (Commentary).

      It’s also an FOM camera sending the images via an FOM transmission system to the FOM TV tent at the track as well as via a fibre network to Biggin Hill where it’s recorded/stored on FOM hardware. Teams are required to run the camera, It’s part of the FIA regulations as is where & how there mounted.

      1. @ahxshades I’d also think that it is far cheaper to buy high quality footage from FOM than trying to do the whole loop
        @gt-racer describes yourselves as a team. Not to mention that you would have to find a place to put your own camera in – you are not allowed to put your own camera into the FOM housing off course.

  9. Could you show us the dog kennels, please?

  10. If my red-hot curvy beauty had that kind of a unibrow, I too would put a paper bag to cover it up.

  11. And did those feet in ancient times …

  12. The only reason I can think of for purchasing the FOM footage is for simulator calibration

  13. Peppermint-Lemon (@)
    30th August 2018, 20:15

    Too bad they couldn’t cover the flip flop

  14. Too conspiracies.. the cleaning agency forgot a rag on the car

  15. If it is to stop spying, which lets face it is highly likely, then it would make sense to make this component and those around it heat sensitive and make sure it gets hot. That way when the FIA investigate, the cooling reason stated is valid and the FIA or other teams can’t complain. But in fact the real reason is not the cooling.

    Just the way I would work this if it were my multi 100 million euro team competing in a environment like F1.

    Anyways, they likely all run something illegal at one point or another. And success in any motorsport is always accompanied by accusations of cheating, not just in F1. Never is hard work and a better job a valid reason to be ahead, except if it happens to be your own team.

  16. I’m just surprised it is a simple bag.
    The way F1 operates I would expect a matching “Ferrari Red” titanium alloy housing that cost thousands of pounds to design and manufacture packed with all the latest cooling technology and lots of surface to sell as advertising space.

    Then again – maybe the marketing people plan to sell “Official Ferrari Cooling Packs” at races from now on ;P

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