Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Sochi Autodrom, 2018

Alonso’s request to use helmet camera turned down by FOM

2018 United States Grand Prix

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Formula 1 Management turned down a request from Fernando Alonso to use a helmet camera this weekend as the pictures it produced were not of broadcast quality.

RaceFans has learned Alonso asked FOM to let him use a specially-adapted Bell helmet fitted with an eye-level camera this weekend.

FOM tested the camera but felt the images it produced were too low in quality for F1 broadcasts. Running the helmet also requires additional technical and electronic support which could not be provided.

The helmet is designed to offer a driver’s-eye view of the track. The camera is positioned to the right of the driver’s eyeball. Distortion caused by the camera’s view through the helmet’s visor apparently contributes to the image quality problem.

Fernando Alonso confirmed he hoped to run the camera this weekend when asked by RaceFans yesterday.

“We were thinking to test the camera together with Bell and with FOM but at the end it didn’t happen this weekend,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen in the next weekends. It would be good to experiment.”

Alonso will make his final F1 start in next month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. “Maybe for the last race or something it will be a nice memory to have,” he added.

However the amount of development required to develop and integrate the design is thought to make that unlikely.

FOM conducted tests of placing cameras inside helmets earlier this year, including with Pierre Gasly in Monaco and Romain Grosjean at Montreal.

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34 comments on “Alonso’s request to use helmet camera turned down by FOM”

  1. That would be dope, to see action from Drivers perspective…

  2. Could they not make a housing on the outside of the helmet for the camera.
    At eye level, it would make for an interesting view for the fans to see.

  3. Here’s a link to Gasley’s test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWQfiTCQews

    And Grosjean’s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y243oh2Ryw

    Whilst I agree they may not be quite right for live pictures, I’m amazed they wouldn’t want to use some of those shots for replays!

    1. @petebaldwin
      Shots like these is exactly what F1 needs to get rid that of clinical, ‘they’re not really driving, just cruising around in a computer that tells them what to do, I want the eighties back, when F1 was still F1 and I was still young and not wrinkly and overweight …’ image. They’re rough, hectic and shaky and perfectly show how much of a physical challenge F1 really is.

      1. Well said, that’s what we, most of the time, hope to get from those on-board views!

        1. As in, this is the first time I saw Gasly’s footage, and I want more, now! Basically, give me access to this at least at all street races, even when the vibrations sometimes makes the view a bit unsharp, it gives such a great perspective of how tight and fast it is. Superstable HD is great (especially for a field sport like soccer, to follow that ball, and such), but not better than giving a sense of the speed of motorsport, which this does much, much better.

    2. Amazing!
      (Keep saying:) Combine this with the breathing and heartbeat of the driver and all of a sudden everybody will understand how violent and physical a sport F1 is!

      Most simple solution to start right now with ‘improving the show’.

      1. I agree but as this is opinion from fans already following F1 they will not bother with what we think… They know better what new fans want.

    3. Idk what the hell FOM is talking about; those are pretty damn good quality. Just a tad shaky but the ride is kind of shaky…

    4. I enjoyed watching those, but maybe that’s because it’s a new perspective. I think there’s a place for this sort of video. It’ll come eventually. I thought it was a pity we weren’t able to hear more of that Honda engine, it’s hard to find onboard video from the Toro Rosso.

  4. That was the worst thing about the 2010 senna documentary, the onboard footage was terrible, said no one ever.

  5. To be fair to FOM, had they have allowed the lower quality footage there would be hundreds of people on YouTube complaining about the quality. Most of us don’t care I’m sure, but that doesn’t matter anymore.

    1. At least we’d have something worthwhile to talk about.

  6. oh my god. why not let him use the camera. they dont need to broadcast it. im sure fans will be happy to watch it later on youtube. common F1, get out of the stone age. no wonder audience figures are dropping.

    i have to say the FOM on board cameras are a joke. they added the halo without even thinking of changing the camera mounting points. i’d like to have a job at FOM. must be relaxing.

  7. Put a call out to Indycars for assistance. They do it all the time.

    1. They have helmet camera. It’s mounted on helmet outside. Not a problem though. I don’t see any reason why F1 shouldn’t have cameras like this. But current broadcast picture is absolutely boring comparing to Indycar and even F1 of mid 80-early 90’s.

      Even circuit cameras are boring to hell. Showing fully zoomed cars in corners, so you see only the car, like it always staying on the same place.

      They care only on sponsor logos. They only making sure that we can see and read them all the time.

      1. “Even circuit cameras are boring to hell. Showing fully zoomed cars in corners, so you see only the car, like it always staying on the same place.”
        Great point, yesterday there was a little used long shot of the esses which showed heart in mouth directional change, really showed how amazing the cars are, hopefully we see more today.

      2. @regs F1 was using a camera on top of the helmet a few years before indycar started using the same angle. It likely wouldn’t work in F1 now because of the Halo.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JndSUvJy5c

        The other issue with that shot in f1 is that the camera they were using a few years ago was tiny sd camera that didn’t have a significant effect on airflow. the hd one been used by indycar is much larger & has a much bigger effect on airflow into the airbox which isn’t an issue for insycar as they don’t use the airbox but f1 does for both airflow into the engine & cooling to the hybrid systems.

        additionally the larger unit been used in indycar tends to pick up a lot of dirt & become unusable after 10-20 laps as we have no way of clearing the lens. the smaller one f1 was using was less prone to picking up dirt.

        1. Build a camera into the halo, maybe…?

        2. Just few times in marketing purposes. Indycar is using it very often in every broadcast.

  8. Excuses, excuses, excuses, it’s all talk, ‘improve the show’ !?
    Then get that on TV, TODAY, outstanding POV, the qualities just fine.

  9. “No Fernando, we do not want to see your helmet pictures.”

  10. He should paint ‘Censored’ on his helmet..oh that’s right there’s a stupid rule about helmet color changes too.

  11. IndyCar has used a HD helmet cam for years, mounted on top of the helmet. Maybe that is not feasible because of the Halo?

  12. I asked & was told that the problem was that the quality was poor but also far too shakey & that there was also issues with the auto focus system.
    Additionally they couldn’t get it to work properly with the transmission systems on the cars thats used for the in-car cameras.

    I also believe that the helmet itself hasn’t been homologated by the FIA in terms of the safety requirements so couldn’t have been used anyway.

    That said I know that a helmet camera of some sort is been looked at by FOM. They have a few different concepts that there trailing although some of the more tried & tested ideas can’t be used due to either the Halo or other safety regulations that have come in around helmet design & what they can put on/in them.

    1. The footage from Gasly in Monaco (linked above) really, really, makes me want to see more of Monaco, Baku and Singapore like that though @gt-racer. Probably not for the whole race, but as part of the races, to show how tight and fast it is, absolutely, as it shows that much, much better than wider camera angles, and even than the current car camera’s.

      So I really hope we can get it soon, and I wouldn’t mind occasional shakeyness and out of focus frames, makes me feel more in the car (a bit like what shaky-cam in action movies can accomplish, when it is well done), imagine if you had Max Verstappen’s Russia, and Ricciardo, Vettel’s first lap from Japan like that, I think it would have been awesome.

      1. @bosyber The thing with those glasses cameras they used earlier in the year is that currently they don’t broadcast live & can only record to sd storage. An additional problem was that the drivers that were trailing them also complained they were quite uncomfortable to wear.

        They were also only used over slow out laps because there not allowed to run things inside the helmet for safety reasons. This is why those visor cameras that were been used by the champcar series many years ago (Tiny things placed in the foam inside the helmet) has not been seen since 2007.

        1. Just to add something else.

          An additional problem with running shots like this live is that teams don’t want anyone to get real good quality shots of the wheel display as you can learn a lot from the info thats displayed.

          It’s easy to blur the displays out in post processing of the non-live shots but a bit harder to do live given how it’s always moving.

          1. Yes, I’d agree with the comment about teams believing that seeing what’s being displayed is commercially sensitive. So I guess we aren’t going to see this until teams decide maybe it isn’t that sensitive after all.
            Regarding the movement of the camera, yes, I guess that could seem “amateurish” to camera professionals, but it also gives it an “authentic” feel.

          2. Thanks @gt-racer, that gives some useful, though disappointing, context to this. Tempted to say ‘tough luck’ on the wheel display, but, I suppose it just won’t fly with them!

            Still, hope some clever solutions will be found for this (even if none have been found since a decade, hope dies last, as I am sure Ferrari/Vettel fans will feel today too :)

  13. Up until 2008 Champcar/Indycar & other US categories used to use an in-helmet Vidor-cam mounted next to the drivers eye.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCChUBJKJXg
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWxRFnBN6TI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWC5PW89f4o
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TotMGHvp6w

    F1 trialed a similar angle – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7fdyM2Td4A

    And F1 were also using a helmet-cam mounted on top of the helmet (Like what Indycar currently use) fairly regularly from 2011-2015.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbl5Y-8oRFA

  14. Wow that camera on the helmet view it awsome! They really should invest in that. Dont the powers that be know we want to expererience as humanly possibly the experience if an actual f1 pilot… Gosh it shudnt be that difficult to do some R and D.

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