The surprising lengths F1 is going to read fans’ minds

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Without overly dwelling on Formula 1’s recent past, it is fair to state that under previous owners CVC Capital Partners the focus on was on the short-term creaming of F1’s bottom line, and seat-of-pants management under then-CEO Bernie Ecclestone, rather than on organically growing the sport.

About the only reports of import was F1’s annual global TV analysis and statutory financial returns, plus whatever kept financial stakeholders sweet. Whatever research was undertaken was at the behest of media outlets, and even here the ‘hard’ questions were mostly avoid lest the wrath of Princes Gate – then F1’s HQ – was incurred.

Marketing? Heck, that was mainly in the hands of teams, TV broadcasters and race promoters, while the media was expected to offer a free PR service.

That all changed dramatically when CVC sold up to Liberty Media. The new owners instituted a classic marketing approach, one drawing heavily on the Seven Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Promotion, Place, Packaging, Positioning and – crucially – People.

Advances in technology and the explosive growth of social media offer new opportunities to understand the latter. The days of ‘suck-it-and-see’ are over; Liberty uses a wholly scientific approach to interpreting the reactions of fans – both spectators and sofa-surfers.

Matt Roberts, F1’s global research director, presented the research methodology to a trio of media outlets including this publication in Singapore. Also present was F1 technical director Pat Symonds, who explained how the findings informed the sport’s future direction.

Fans, Sochi Autodrom, 2019
F1 is closely studying how fans react to races
As an example, an ongoing bone of contention is the subject of grid penalties for drivers who use too many engine components. F1 used its Fanvoice website, which provides a base of over 80,000 fans who participate in surveys and polls, to quiz the sport’s followers on the subject.

Around 8,000 responses were received. “That is,” says Roberts, “a very robust sample size, given that political polling is only a thousand people across the country in the UK.

“We do a whole range of things. We do lots of work with our spectators – we do spectator experience research, we track people around the track, we’ve launched [customer relationship management] CRM Data Space, and we’ve launched this kind of data analytics.

“All of what we do goes not just internal[ly], we also work closely with all the teams, with the promoters, with (F1) partners and send them all the stuff we do that is relevant for them.”

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This enables F1 to understand many things about its fans: Who they are, where they are, how old they are, their gender, why they are watching, and how they value partners, drivers and teams.

“We’ve launched recently a kind of an analytics function,” adds Roberts. “Before it was more primary research surveys, et cetera, but in January 2019 we launched a data analytics team and the goal really was using big data to help drive, to help inform company decisions, and particularly around the motorsport team, the broadcast team and so forth.”

F1 also tracks conversations on various social media platforms such as Reddit and via biometrics in order to understand TV viewing habits.

Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Baku City Circuit, 2017
Baku’s incident-packed 2017 race got fans buzzing
“We’re diving deep into our TV ratings to understand what drives up our markets to assist our TV rights team.

“For example, we have somewhere between 500,000 and 600,000 Reddit members of our sub-forum. Essentially they are regularly posting, whether it be in races, in between races, pre-season, post-season. They’re posting lots of stuff, whether it be complaints, happy things, good things, bad things – they don’t just complain the whole time; they do give some quite insightful analyses.”

Here Roberts and his team apply linguistic analysis, which is merged with minute-by-minute time codes linked to video replays, to understand how fans react to a given situation, such as a penalty decision, an overtaking move or whatever. This information is in turn fed to Symonds and his team “who take apart the data to understand what drives race engagement.”

Using charts, Roberts explains some of the findings: “The races that are the most incidents-packed get bigger spikes. So obviously Azerbaijan 2017 [which featured a series of dramatic incidents including Sebastian Vettel’s deliberate swerve into Lewis Hamilton] was huge in terms of the amount of traffic and people talking about those races.

“The spikes usually are around controversial results or in-race decisions. We’ve looked at this data compared to some of the other tools that we have. We do other research projects, and we did a Galvanic Skin Response [more on that below] and the data really matches up.”

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The plan is to roll out these analyses to further social platforms and venture beyond English language platforms, and eventually extending the analyses to every race.

Pat Symonds, Singapore, 2019
Symonds is seeking an alternative to grid penalties
“We appreciate it’s early days yet, but as seasons go by we’ll build up that robust sample of what makes a great race, what makes a bad race, and that’s essentially where we want to get to. And then help inform decisions on the back of that. It’s being used quite heavily by the broadcasting team as well, because obviously they can see what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong.”

Do they guide conversations by ‘planting’ statement or questions? The answer is an emphatic “No”. However Symonds points out it is “difficult” to frame questions correctly without “leading the witness”, as he calls it.

“Occasionally we have to add some explanation [in polls]. We were talking about alternatives to penalties earlier. If you just put a question out there saying, ‘Do you think a ballast penalty is better than a grid penalty?’ it’s really difficult for them to understand all the implications of it.

“So we do put a little bit of a narrative around the arguments. We try not to lead the witness. The unintended consequences of any regulation change are actually quite difficult even for us to determine, and for even the avid fan. In fact, avid fans are sometimes actually worse than casual fans, because they’re so pre-programmed.

The correct framing of questions is crucial, says Roberts, using research into possibly sprint races as example: “About a year-and-a-half ago we just tested the waters around sprint races, and the way we asked questions really, really annoyed the respondents.

“They felt we were leading them to say that we were definitely going to have a sprint race next season, and that we weren’t asking their opinion properly.”

To supplement those conversations, Roberts and his team have begun using Galvanic Skin Response studies of small numbers of fans. This involves physically monitoring their skin using sensors which track activity in the sweat glands to assess their arousal to a particular stimulus – in this case, the events of a live race.

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“We did a pilot for this back in Silverstone in 2018, and then this season we’ve done it at every race and next season we’ll be doing it at every race,” says Roberts.

“We wanted to understand the race experience. We wanted to understand [fans’] on-track highs and lows, and then what content essentially makes a good race, what makes a bad race, and which races have been better than others.

“The reason why we did this particular methodology is because if you ask people questions, you tend to get sort of rational responses, whereas 90% of human behaviour is driven by emotion.

“One example is, this essentially tells us when people are engaged, because we know by their skin response to various incidents within the race. It was in the [2018] British Grand Prix, on this people were not that engaged when Hamilton went from sixth to third because two cars went in the pits.

“But on the survey we did alongside, where we asked people, ‘Are you happy or are you not happy?’ they all said they were really happy when he went from sixth to third.

“In reality it wasn’t that exciting because nothing happened. He just drove out on track and he just went up a few positions. So that’s just an example of how people will answer a survey differently from when you’re actually trying to measure their response to something.”

Symonds points out F1 is the first sporting activity to use this technique in fans’ homes – in other words, in a television viewer’s natural viewing environment. This means respondents are not required to head for a laboratory or don headsets or tracking glasses.

2018 British GP fan arousal
F1 studied fans’ arousal levels during races
F1 recruits 100 representative people per race for biometric analysis paying them £50 per race in return for strapping a sensor to the palm of a hand. Currently all respondents are UK-based and recruited using selection panels, but the plan is to roll it out to other territories.

“They just stick it onto their hand. They can do it all in-home, they don’t need to be plugged in or anything, and they just literally sit and watch the race.

“We’ve signed this [technique] up again for next year, and hopefully for a number of years after that, that numbers will go up much bigger, and we can then start looking at sub-groups. But it’s just more a function of costs, and it takes quite a lot to get this project set up. So we reckon 100 is a manageable number at the moment,” says Roberts.

Using a time-coded chart he illustrates last year’s British round: “The race start there, a safety car tends to dip down, people get a bit less engaged. That’s the high towards the end of the race where people come back in again and then you’re starting to see that drop-off.

“We’ve done a lot of work around this and with TV ratings, and we have about an 11-minute window to keep fans engaged: 11 minutes is the most likely time that casual fans will switch over. So they watch the start and then it’s clear who’s in the lead and they will switch over. Then they’ll come back at the end.”

Every sport is different, says Roberts, using football as example: “If the team is four-nil up at half time, suddenly it just drops off. So if we can make the racing more competitive and more exciting, then we’ll see that line go up rather than see that dip before they come back again.

“That’s our goal; it’s to have that line go up rather than see the dip that we do.”

Is the trick not, though, to achieve an upward trajectory organically rather than artificially through devices such as DRS, or worse, gimmicks?

“[That’s] right,” says Symonds. “If there are five groups of two cars battling, it doesn’t actually make any difference, it doesn’t get any better. All we need is to get two cars battling.

“So you’ll say, ‘Well, what can we do about that?’ And you can’t artificially make two cars battle. What you can do is try and get the performance of all the cars more equal, and then you’ve got a much higher chance of a battle happening. So that’s one thing I think that we can learn from it.

“We don’t want to make it artificial. What we want to increase the jeopardy. At the moment everything is so damn processional in Formula One; if we get a little bit more jeopardy into it, a little bit more of these sort of things happening that the fans seem to enjoy so much.”

Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Hockenheimring, 2019
Overstimulating? Wet Hockenheim race was action-packed
Can you have too much of a good thing? July’s chaotic German Grand Prix may have been just that, says Roberts. “The casual fans were actually more engaged than the avid fans, because they loved the jeopardy of it, whereas the avid fans probably found that it was just a bit too much for them. We’re finding some quite interesting nuances.”

Equally, from viewer reactions F1 has learned that onboard cameras don’t maintain viewer attention unless there’s another car ahead, while drops in attention can be countered through replays during lulls in action. Biometric data can also be used to track the individual impact of commentators, but Roberts refuses to be drawn on this point…

One of the challenges, Symonds emphasises, is that tracking is only relevant if a particular incident is broadcast: “If the director misses something – we may see [something] in our data there’s something really interesting going on and we’d expect to see a high response, but if it’s not on TV, we won’t see that response. So we have to apply that filter when we do our analysis as well.”

According to Broadcasters Audience Research Board data, avid F1 fans watch 16 or so races per year, while casual fans consume a quarter that. Hence that is F1’s target market for conversion to ‘avid’ could quadruple audiences, with such data being crucial F1’s future direction.

Clearly, after just three years under Liberty, it is still early days for F1’s market research to play out fully, but the point is that science is at last being applied to this most scientific of sports, and that can only stand F1 in good stead as it faces arguably the biggest challenges in its 70-year history.

Crucially, though, the data should be used to inform decisions, not to determine them. As Pat Symonds, whose task it is implement change, “That is important.”

The mere fact that F1 recognises this provides hope for its future.

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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...

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  • 50 comments on “The surprising lengths F1 is going to read fans’ minds”

    1. Sounds to me a bit like F1 teams who have the cleverest engineers, a wealth of stats and historical data, technology, weather radars and equipment. And yet when making a call on when to change to wets, they fail to simply stand in the pit lane and check if it’s actually raining.

      1. I agree with you @aussierod, common sense seems to be a very rare commodity these days. IT is god, if the computer says “NO” we must obey.

    2. I stopped doing the fan survey questions last year because I felt a lot of them were very leading in order to get the results they wanted rather than what my actual views were.

      I recall one talking about qualifying for instance where I gave an answer that i’d like things to stay as they are but then next questions were all asking me about alternative formats as if I hadn’t given my initial answer. I came away feeling like i’d just given the green light to sprint races even though i’m completely against them.

      Then I recall another regarding the points system which only gave options to vote for extending beyond 10th. There was nothing that allowed you to say you were happy with how it’s is, Just tick boxes from 11th to 20th.

      1. I agree with this, the polls they put out are very “leading”. The only option you have is to say what you really think in the final “anything else you want to say” option they give you at the end. But I’m not sure if that would be taken into account.

      2. Yes, +1000. I’ve had the exact same experience with these ‘polls’ and have just stopped participating in them. Leading questions and no options to answer as one really feels. The points ‘poll’ is a great example of how to push an agenda; everyone participating ‘voted’ to extend the points range with no option to just leave it alone.

      3. FlyingLobster27
        2nd October 2019, 15:30

        The results of the WEC fan poll a couple of years ago was an absolute laugh to read. Something along the lines of, “given the choice among the events currently on the calendar, you found the events currently on the calendar to be important.”

        That time also, @stefmeister, there was no “things are just fine” option, so when the “what would you change?” question came along, it was a referendum in disguise. “Varying race lengths” narrowly won, but despite 4- and 8-hour races being less desired than others in another question, WEC decided on doing 4- and 8-hour races (specifically 4 hours at the usually well-visited Silverstone and Shanghai weekends, and an 8-hour bonanza in spectator-less Bahrain), because “the fans have spoken, they want more race formats”.

      4. I stopped participating a bit earlier I think @stefmeister, @geemac, @david-br but exactly for the same reasons.

    3. “The casual fans were actually more engaged than the avid fans, because they loved the jeopardy of it, whereas the avid fans probably found that it was just a bit too much for them. We’re finding some quite interesting nuances.”

      I’d be very interested to find out which so-called “avid fans” weren’t absolutely spellbound during the German GP this season…

      1. Plenty I suspect its a conversation I had with others who felt the same…

      2. @geemac: Does seem that Liberty want to transform avid fans into casual fans. That’s ok with me. Would be a big time and money saver.

        Don’t trust their galvanic research either. Whenever Crofty goes faux-drama mode, my heart rate quickens while I mash the mute button on the remote.

        1. @jimmi-cynic, agree re Crofty, that kind of screeching/bellowing calling of fictional moves and excitement makes my brain boil, in Sochi he was screaming that LeClerc was going to pass Bottas constantly, despite the visual evidence to the contrary. The same kind of commentary on the various football codes has me turning off my radio at midday every weekend.

          1. @jimmi-cynic @hohum – I kid you not, this year, I’ve switched to watching F1 on mute, and listen to music on headphones :)

            Until last year, we in India used to get C4 commentary – which was a treat in comparison, this year it’s all Sky due to the contract changes.

            1. @phylyp: Good idea… maybe some Beach Boys… My 409. Oh wait… are you one of those, hybrid engines don’t make enough noise viewers? ;-)

              I miss the Coultard/Brundle team we had briefly on BBC.

            2. Oh wait… are you one of those, hybrid engines don’t make enough noise viewers? ;-)

              @jimmi-cynic – I’m one of those “Crofty makes too much noise” viewers :)

              I’ve no argument with any style of F1 engine and its sound, giddy up.

          2. a common calamity in sports broadcasting is the (invisible) force put upon commentaries to produce MAXIMUM DRAMA — CIRCUS MAXIMUS — every single damned Mon…Sunday. No matter whether there actually IS a drama going on. In order to dulling the crowd — for the event that real drama appears :)

        2. @jimmi-cynic that’s a fine one: “Does seem that Liberty want to transform avid fans into casual fans.”

      3. @geemac

        There wasn’t any real suspense, just a series of random events. It was fairly entertaining, but certainly nothing to significantly raise my blood pressure. Then again, I wouldn’t even want it to raise my blood pressure. If I wanted that, I wouldn’t be sitting in front of a screen.

    4. Well, it all sounds very scientific…maybe too much. When it comes to grid penalties and such, they should just make it simple: five places for gearbox change, start from pitlane for any PU element change…whether it was a brand new engine or a single element. This would make it simple and the same for everybody. There were occasions when a car would qualify in something like 17th, receive 35 grid places penalty and still start from 19th position on the grid…what sense does that make? This attempt at ‘fairness’ (more penalty for more substantial change) is ruining the whole thing, and I am sure it is driven by the teams, moreso than the FIA. Same with track limits…there is way too much dissecting of whether someone gained an advantage and how much, or whether someone else was ‘avoiding an accident’. Nonsense! Put all four wheels beyond the white line at any part of the track for any reason, get 5 seconds…if you pass another car in the process: drive through. Simple and the same for everybody. If there are instances of bad driving habits, like intentionally pushing another car off the track, disqualification. Maybe GPDA should get involved as well, to justify their existence. As for on-board cameras, it is true that F1 footage is not that interested, because for regular TV broadcast, they don’t provide the rotating cameras, which would provide wonderful footage of first corner action for example or gravity (or whatever they are called) cameras that show really well how the whole car is shaking and moving…I only know this from watching Indycars.

      1. Some good points to consider there @gpfacts – see the discussion about Vettels’ tyres (or rather the bulging sidewalls) having still been “above the white line when seen from above” at Monza (i think that was where it was) and mentioning that had they penalized him the team would have protested.

      2. @gpfacts I don’t have a problem with a driver qualifying 17th and starting fromP19 despite a grid-drop penalty greater than two places. The way the final grid slots get determined at present is fairly easy to understand IMO. Last time out in Sochi, for example, Kvyat got a lower starting-position than Kubica because he didn’t set a time in QLF while Kubica did, and Albon was originally set to start P19 in between them because he set a slower lap time than Kubica, i.e., the higher the qualifying-position the higher the final grid-position following a grid-drop penalty big or small.

        1. @jerejj Wel, maybe the penalty application system is crystal clear and easy to follow, yet the question remains what sense does it make? Presumably, a penalty means that the team/driver are somehow punished for a breach of regulations, but the current system more than often results in no real disadvantage to the ‘offenders’ and in my opinion exists only for sake of having a system that pretends to be fair. The scenario I used above is a hypothetical that I made up when typing, but consider these real examples:

          In both Monaco 2012 and Monza 2017 Pérez received five-place penalty for new gearbox, but in both cases started ahead of where he actually qualified (in MC12 he didn’t even set qualifying time). In Azerbaijan 2017 Vandoorne qualified 19th, received 30-place grid penalty and started 18th. So, once again…what is the point?

          1. @gpfacts Yeah, I see your point concerning the two examples at the end there, but there isn’t an easy straightforward solution to that.

      3. the problem happens before: when you are claiming to pushing all limits in pursue of progress (which very soon will be the sole justification for motorsports), then you have to show this to the people; while pushing hard, things may and shall break. Just telling the crowd that it’s on the edge is not enough. The manufacturer teams prefer to blow their engines in their factories, instead of on track / screen (following a false, too perfection-oriented marketing approach). But it’s the drama that makes people tune in; it’s the drama that grew fan base. Intrinsically derived and occurred drama.

        Track limit discussions for such a long time is a pure, evil, awful joke. Racing without clear, fine-defined track limits does not make any sense => Nonsense
        I am writing the powers in charge since years that those tarmac run-off zones do not help in any way, neither safety-wise, nor drama-wise. Now, since Belgium — and Sotschi, they seem to follow.

        And concerning the research approach about what’s a good race vs. what’s not: AUS ’86 vs FRA 2019.
        Case closed.

    5. Can you have too much of a good thing? July’s chaotic German Grand Prix may have been just that, says Roberts. “The casual fans were actually more engaged than the avid fans, because they loved the jeopardy of it, whereas the avid fans probably found that it was just a bit too much for them. We’re finding some quite interesting nuances.”

      I find that difficult to believe… or at least, difficult to interpret in the way they did. Could it not also be that avid fans are more likely to have strong leanings towards/against certain drivers/teams, and the German GP lacked some traditional key battles – eg, Mercedes vs Ferrari, Hamilton vs Vettel, or any real world title implications? I know from when I used to have favourites, when you’re cheering ‘your guy’ in a tense fight you’re more engaged, but Leclerc was out, Hamilton was more or less out after his off and Vettel was never in the victory mix.

      Or maybe avid fans could see the wider race picture better, had quickly settled into the idea that it was going to be chaotic, and thus had fewer moments of surprise or shock?

      Or something else. I just don’t buy the idea that F1 nuts found the race ‘too much for them’…

      1. @neilosjames

        Another aspect may be the loss of meaning of individual GPs. It’s all so tidely woven into the whole season, races and race wins do not stand on their own as much anymore. Commentators speaking about the championship from race one onwards (rather than in the final third of the year), race-results depending on each other (grid penalties, parts for multiple races), points being spread out inflationary to half the field while not giving nearly enough emphasis on wins and podiums.
        And on top of that, even the most chaotic race in recent years had still the same old guys leading, without there being much of a glimpse of hope for any real underdog or even just a team outside the big 3. No Olivier Panis in a Ligier, no Herbert in a Stewart, no Jordan 1-2 in sight. If it doesn’t even happen in those kind of races, when is it supposed to happen?

    6. I’ll just mention bringing casual fans to the “avid” category, my take on it is that it will not be exclusively through PPV formats in broadcast that they will be able to increase it. Transmiting the races on an open signal basis, charging networks just enough to cover the running costs, will surely add to the fan numbers as well as increased exposure and air time of advertisers, meaning more revenue to circuits, networks and the sport as a whole. F1 can then improve subscription products to those fans that want it. I realise it may be coming back to the old model(for the most part), but F1 became the current behemoth on its shoulders!

    7. Advances in technology and the explosive growth of social media offer new opportunities to understand the latter. The days of ‘suck-it-and-see’ are over; Liberty uses a wholly scientific approach to interpreting the reactions of fans – both spectators and sofa-surfers.

      Um the amount of effort and money that has gone into finding out what people want over the last hundred or so yrs is huge. What F1 is attempting is nothing new Google, Facebook, Twitter all use analytics to try and find out what their audience wants and how to increase it.
      Bloody hell Soichiro Honda went to the US in the early 70s himself and interviewed ordinary Americans. He went to their homes, he looked in their fridges to try and work out what they want in a car. Car manufacturers have gone to great lengths to get customers through the door then get them to sign that contract. They have employed armies of sociologists and psychologists who have recommended mood music, colours and scents on top off the monetary incentives to increase sales.
      All of this is only ever short term, the current generation are currently turning away from cars and motorsport in general.
      In ancient Rome in order to maintain the peoples attendance and keep their minds off other issues. The games inside the Coliseum got ever more spectacular and violent. But spectacle is like a drug it eventually you start to need more to get the same result, until eventually you don’t…it’s the rule of diminishing returns.

    8. Don’t try to read my mind – just ask me what I think.

      I dare ya ;)

      1. Do you want either:
        a) qualifying races
        b) reward points to top 16 race finishers
        c) make drs more effective

        You can pick 2 options maximum.

        1. Easiest questionnaire of all times.

          Points for the Top 16? God, no. The Top Ten are already too much.

          More effective DRS? How about less existing DRS?

          Qualifying races? Hell Yeah!

    9. Make the cars louder… make the cars louder… make the cars louder

      1. Can’t hear you. Can you say it louder?

      2. no. not louder – better.

    10. The current F1, in general terms, I like, … cars, drivers, the aesthetics of cars, halo, hybrid engines, tires, classification, driver scores, team scores, 21 races … well, I love sports, I love F1.
      What would I like to change?
      1.- The competition, that is, I don’t like that only one or two teams have the possibility of winning races, and the rest of the teams only aspire to be good comparsas, many people have already got used to seeing this every weekend, I reject it, I would like to see more competitive races, where the difference between the first place and the 18th place is less than a minute in each race, and more teams have the chance to win and fight every weekend to climb to the podium
      2.- That F2 and F3 be real seedbeds of future drivers for F1, today this has improved, so today we have very good young drivers giving great spectacle in each competition.
      3.- The Circuits, it is not possible that large circuits, both in Europe and in America, are abandoned and cannot have F1 races, and instead, the doors are opened to street circuits, improvised and that do not contribute anything to the sport, circuits that only work once a year, interrupt the daily flow of the cities where they develop and that do not encourage the sport of motoring in those countries, the citizens of those countries cannot organize other races, therefore the sport is not encouraged no way. I understand the commercial issue, but my concern is for the sport, and that should be given priority, without losing the commercial.
      4.- Television broadcasts, I agree, you earn a lot of money on pay-TV, but you should think of a scheme for F1 to be an open TV topic, so that everyone could watch the races “freely” , I think you could think of an open scheme where everyone wins, even I think that F1 and sport would earn much more in an open than closed scheme, something similar to the World Cup, not necessarily the same, but a scheme where more People could see the show, this would bring more fans, more sponsors and consequently there would be more profits, everywhere.
      5.- … and some other minor detail.
      6.- I love sports, I love F1.

    11. “That F2 and F3 be real seedbeds of future drivers for F1, today this has improved, so today we have very good young drivers giving great spectacle in each competition.”

      Agree 100% but in the USA we can’t see the races, unlike MotoGP where we can see the future stars evolve in Moto2/3.

      1. You can see Moto2/3 ! Luxury, here in Oz our 26 channels of FTA TV, even when they had F1 live, never gave/give us Moto2, Moto3, F2, F3, or even F1 qualifying. Without Dan Ricciardo F1 would be totally off the radar here by now.

    12. I’m sorry but it is this type of article that takes the edge of “independent motorsport coverage”

    13. Hope you’re reading this F1 mgt. The answer is simple ( and you already have the data ) , you need 2 cars racing in close company throughout the race. You do not need tactical pitstops separating the leading contenders. You do not need drivers hanging back to conserve tyres and you definitely do not need drivers on worn out tyres going so slow that every other car including the Williams duo can pass them effortlessly. You also do not need bulletproof reliability, a 5 second lead should not mean game, set and match. The result should always be in doubt until the chequered flag drops.

      1. In other words, going back to the past. I’m sorry @hohum but “bulletproof reliability” is the product of the improvements in engineering. You really cant’ go back.
        And, in the end, do you really want that? Remember the laughs at the McLaren Honda, breaking down again, and again and again? I’m not sure it will make the races more exciting (but more random yes! Just like they were in the past…).

        1. @x303, Bulletproof reliability is no more a product of improved engineering than it is a product of the rules, without the penalties for engine part breakages teams and drivers would use their highest power settings more of the time and inevitably there would be more frequent failures. Note, I said more frequent, not constant, just enough to worry about until the flag drops.

    14. Skin conductance response tests and analyzing social media posts with natural language processing tools are both pretty established in academic research (the latter also in tech companies) and have both been around for a while now. Calling this “cutting-edge” is kind of pushing it. I don’t think anyone has to worry about FOM getting too fancy over that.

    15. Not sure this sort of analysis, quadruple audiences, is technically correct …. heck, I am absolutely certain it isn’t.
      Break out the Tin-Foil Hats.

    16. I applaud the fact that the new owners are doing serious research, but the methodology, or more to the point, the in race analysis concerns me somewhat.

      I know there’s serious work being done to bring the field closer together in the hope that there’ll be more “action”. That’s a given – we know that things need to change. What concerns me is the potential to misuse this sort of thing.

      Lead car is way out in front?….. send out the safety car.
      Things have gotten a bit processional?….. turn on the sprinklers
      No ones retired yet? ……. squirt a bit of oil on that corner

      It sort of reminds me of the sort of things that have been done to those horrid reality TV shows -the producers are constantly looking to introduce a new twist to engage the viewers.

      My only advice to Pat is “Always, always, always apply the common sense rule to and analytical data” it’s been my experience that Big Data is only as good at the way the information is collected and fed it to it and I’ve seen some catastrophic decisions made by really poor (and nonsensical) interpretation of it.

      1. “Always, always, always apply the common sense rule to and analytical data” it’s been my experience that Big Data is only as good at the way the information is collected and fed it to it and I’ve seen some catastrophic decisions made by really poor (and nonsensical) interpretation of it

        That’s the key issue: data interpretation.

    17. Never before has such a huge cloud of smoke ever, been blown up genuine F1 fan’s rs’s.
      BS BS More BS. The whole Bu$ine$$ is just that. The devil $ is their Religion.
      Getting rid of free to air. Was the biggest ever self harm F1 inflicted on itself.
      The self aggrandising circus evolving currently will kill F1.

      1. Much of the world is BS.

    18. I suppose it’s good that they’re doing something. But it’s really easy to stick yourself in a feedback loop with this type of research.

      While it’s true you can develop a popular product through consumer research, the best products are often the result of a single vision relentlessly applied, often flying in the face of what popular opinion is.

    19. all very well thought and quite balanced views in this comment section.
      Respect, dear comrades !

      Now we have delivered another worthy piece of insight and maybe by now the will start to adopt our input instead of just shelving it — whereby we all don’t believe this will happen.

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