Too much information? Why F1 is adding yet more TV graphics


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As Formula 1 and broadcasters are increasingly able to dip into the sport’s enormous footage vaults situated in Biggin Hill outside London, fans are able to catch the latest grand prix, then immediately rewind to the equivalent race from 30 or more years ago.

Apart from causing dyed-in-the-wool fans to go all wispy-eyed, and allowing younger generations to marvel at the sight of drivers racing full-bore in atrocious conditions, arguably the most striking difference between then and now is to broadcast technology.

Where F1’s early single-channel broadcasts travelled from circuit to lounges in analogue form, current signals rely on digital transmission via complex hi-def infrastructures. Arguably, though, the biggest change is to the actual on-screen experience via massive improvements in in-car technology, and increasing use of graphics.

F1 has moved on from the days of 8-bit graphics and blurry cars. Onboard cameras have proliferated and roaming cameras follow Lewis Hamilton’s every scoot through the paddock. The use of on-screen graphics has grown too, reaching CNN newscast proportions, and indicative of a commercial rights holder going all-out to woo American fans.

This became a talking point during the Japanese Grand Prix when a new Tyre Performance graphic was first aired. It was widely believed to convey actual tyre wear on the car by viewers expecting the data was acquired through sensors on cars using information provided by sole tyre supplier Pirelli.

However, asked about the data in Mexico, Pirelli’s Head of Car Racing Mario Isola said he had been ‘surprised’ by the graphics, and confirmed that Pirelli had not provided the information. This prompted confusion, and Isola’s claim the graphics were “misleading” was widely reported.

The matter was clarified during a subsequent meeting between the two parties. But two questions remain: Does the proliferation of graphics add to the viewer experience, and at which point does F1 hit peak graphic?

RaceFans sat down with F1’s director of broadcasting and media Dean Locke in Mexico to understand the background to current graphics packages. F1 entered into a partnership with Amazon Web Services in June 2018, and it is AWS’s machine learning capabilities that make the graphics possible, as seen here:

“With our partnership of AWS we set quite a high bar: What are the graphics we’ve never been able to do, and what are the stories we’ve never been able to tell, or what are the stories that have been very difficult to tell,” explains Locke (47), a F1 broadcast veteran of over 20 years’ experience.

Dean Locke
Locke: “People like the fact F1 is complicated”
“We consulted with broadcasters, with commentators, [asking] what it is ‘you struggle to tell – undercuts, overcuts, these are famous ones?’ So those were our first ones.

“That’s what we agreed with broadcasters. That’s a really good story, so difficult to tell. How can we do that in graphic form? How can we bring that to life? So that was our pit stop strategy [graphic].”

He makes the point that all data used is available publicly – if you know where/how to look – with none of it obtained from teams or suppliers.

“This is not data that we take from strategic sources, this is public data, our data that we use, and we use the AWS machine learning models to throw all of that [into a big pot], jumble it all up, and get it out.”

Basically artificial intelligence churns the data required to create the graphics?

“Exactly, for want of a simple comparison, and we’re working with our own data team, [with] AWS data scientists and we have people like (ex-Ferrari/Williams engineer) Rob Smedley providing information from a team perspective working with us.

“I also have a graphics team; my role is very much to make it editorially relevant.”

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F1 has a diverse viewer base, says Locke, “with some very knowledgeable and some not so knowledgeable. That first [pit stop] graphic is very much for hardcore F1 fans who like strategy, like to understand strategy.

Early graphics - this is Canada '82 - were simpler
Early graphics – this is Canada ’82 – were simpler
“Our second graphic was the battles that go on in the midfield and the difference, you know, how they develop. It’s very difficult for us on a world feed to show a build-up to a battle because hopefully there’s a lot of battles going on.

“It’s not like football where you’ve got one ball, one pitch and 20 players. So, what we wanted to do, is how can we build up the tension and the pace of, [say], (Sergio) Perez catching someone else lap after lap? How many laps to pass and all that.”

This is a reference to the second AWS graphic, a visual tool used by commentators to enlighten audiences: “We told them ‘we’re not trying to steal that when they get there. That’s up to you.’ But we’re trying to enlighten the audience that there’s something brewing. Don’t go away. There’s something coming up…”

Which brings us to the ‘tyre’ graphic’, through which F1 seeks to visualise performance drop-off.

“We can do our high motion 4K replays of the tyre,” says Locke, “but that doesn’t really tell you anything. Okay, when there’s real bad damage, we can see that.

“But just degradation is very hard to see. So we set ourselves a goal, you know, we had a great story in Monaco with [Lewis] Hamilton this year. You know, where he’s complaining about his tyres. We did it through the radio, and after the race, you know, he had a go at his engineers.

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“So we thought, ‘How can we tell that story better by not using just team radio?’ So we set the guys a really strong test of using all the data we have.

The new Tyre Performance visual does not use Pirelli data
The new Tyre Performance visual does not use Pirelli data
“That’s not Pirelli data; that’s all the data we have,” Locke stresses.

Effectively AWS and his team took all the parameters to create a huge algorithm, then tested it for 12 weeks using different races for accuracy and visualisation.

“It takes in a huge amount of parameters. You know, what the car is doing, where it is, tyre drop off. It’s about performance of the tyre. I’m not going to explain each parameter. But there’s a whole lot: clean air, dirty air, everything else. We take all the data, what they did in practice sessions. Degradation.

“There’s a huge amount, to be honest, I’m probably not even qualified to say, you know, that’s for the data engineers. It was a huge task, but not to be misunderstood that it’s a simple laps versus tyre life [representation].

“It’s all to do with the performance of the tyre. And the graphic is actually quite simple, and I think it’s the first AWS graphic that appeals to all viewers. We gave it a little bit more detail [for the Mexican race] and there’s probably more coming to this graphic as well over probably next few three races into next year.”

And the accuracy of the data, was that was a sticking point?

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“We’re really happy with the accuracy of it. We were surprised how accurate it is. And we reviewed it afterwards to see exactly how, as a world feed provider, we’re getting used to how we should use it, and when we should use it. And I think in Japan we got quite excited about the graphic.”

Yet, fans (and the media) complained that a graphic showing around 50 per cent performance remaining on Hamilton’s tyres coincided with his message that he’d been strung out to dry on his tyres…

The new graphics package had teething problems
F1’s latest graphics package had teething problems
“A different source,” explains Locke, “That’s team radio. We’ve worked really hard to reduce the delay. We have a new workflow that gets this radio out really instantly, really quickly.

“We’re very lucky: You don’t hear from football players what is said on the pitch. We’re incredibly lucky: we hear from these guys going 200 miles an hour around the track.

“So, this radio is flying out, and we’ve got these detailed graphics coming in. It’s like anything: we’ll get better at using it.”

What about the future? What is the next graphic on Dean’s list?

“We have a biggish number [for] next year, setting that against what haven’t we done before, what is really difficult to do? What has nobody ever done? I’ll just tease that one up because there is a graphic like that. What is unique to Formula 1 that other sports can’t do?”

“But we haven’t actually nailed down exactly which ones and how many, and it’s something we’re actually in communication with at the moment.”

“We’ve got 90 broadcasters in 200 territories in multiple languages, so we have a bigger task than most sports. You know, our world feed has been developed over 15, 16 years. We meet the broadcasters, all broadcasters several times through the year, we meet the on-site broadcasters every race.”

Sky’s head of F1 Scott Young says is this interaction and dialogue with broadcasters that has created, “A really strong working relationship between host broadcaster ourselves as broadcasters,” as Young puts it, “but what it did is create a process, so everyone has slightly different view on what they’d like to see, and how their audiences best perceive it.

American sports broadcasts tend to be more graphics-heavy
American sports broadcasts tend to be more graphics-heavy
“The complexity around motorsport is that the car leading on-track may not be the car that is [actually] leading the race, and that’s why you need really good graphics packages that help unpack the challenges of what’s actually happening on track,” says Young.

“Formula 1 is most technically advanced sport in the world, which makes it complex to grasp. It’s important to grow the audience, so fans who understand F1 will intrinsically know what is going on, but we are trying to grow the sport so need to help people understand that the guy who’s sixth or seventh could actually win the race; that over a 90min race many aspects will change, whether it’s the undercut or tyres degrading.”

Could there, though, be a danger of graphics overload?

“There is a balance – at times when they overlay a number of graphics it can get busy. It essentially comes down to what story you’re trying to tell, if you have lap time, telemetry and team radio all at the same time the screen can get quite full,” says Young.

Olaf Mol, the Dutch commentator who has covered over 500 grands prix since 1991, is among those concerned about the growing reliance on graphics.

“My thought is ‘don’t give us too much data, don’t try to be too precise because there will always be people who understand the sport, who have been watching it for many years and know what tyre wear is.

“They know what happens when there is a change of tyres or blisters or graining. Sometimes there is too much data that we need to explain.”

He also expresses a preference for an optional ‘lean’ feed – broadcasters currently have a choice of all-singing and -dancing worlds feeds, and ‘naked’ clean feeds used for replays – stripped of overload.

AWS sponsor some of F1's graphics
AWS sponsor some of F1’s graphics
“In general, over the last couple of years, because Liberty are Americans and they are trying to get into the American market, the amount data of graphics has grown immensely to where I said they are close to covering up the screen.”

However, as Young points out, that has operational and commercial implications. After all, AWS don’t supply their services with no hope of return, which is why the graphics feature their branding.

“You can either do it with a simple graphics package or you can do it with complexity, and it’s up to F1 to find that balance,” he adds.

As any F1 racer knows, overall balance of the car is a crucial ingredient of success, and so it is with broadcasting the fastest sport on earth.

“We discuss exactly these things,” says Locke, “We show them the graphics. We get feedback on those graphics. I think the diverse viewership of Formula 1 is unique and really challenging, and then there is the multiple language thing.

“We have these incredibly clever people [in the teams] trying to make the sport really complicated, and it’s our job to uncomplicate it in a way. But, then, people also like the fact that F1 is so complicated…”


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96 comments on “Too much information? Why F1 is adding yet more TV graphics”

  1. Would be good if they could display all the drivers current split times during qualifying, they only display 3 drivers at the bottom, but at the end of q3 everyone is running at the same time

  2. F1 for dummies

    1. Which is important for new fans that just got into the sport. There’s a good reason why for dummies book sells really well because a lot of people need it.

      1. And if they want to chose dummies books they can, but why should everyone else be made to ‘read’ it?

        1. @riptide Because it’s easier for hardcore / established fans to get supplemental material to enrich their enjoyment (like F1TV pro or live timing), compensating for the “for dummies” minor annoyance. It’s much harder to tell new fans that just come to F1 world to go “buy and read all other this supplemental stuff” just to get into the sport.

          Your “gatekeeping” attitude is fine is you think F1 should be an exclusive club that doesn’t need to cater to most people. However, just don’t cry about the decreasing number of fans in the future.

    2. y’all are elderly. data is cool and I like what Liberty is trying to do. It sounds like this post is more “old man yells at cloud” again

    3. I think there’s a lot of potential with this information, and no, it isn’t just for dummies. Currently we’re only being told how good or bad the tyres are, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used to make predictions. Using the example above, 70% of the tyres are still good, so what’s to stop Amazon Web Services from predicting how that will affect braking, cornering, and acceleration? Recall Nico Hulkenberg saying his tyres were on their last legs when Daniil Kvyat crashed into him? AWS might have been able to alert us to his tyres being on their last legs and that he was in danger of being overtaken. Maybe even the teams could use this technology and so Daniil Kvyat could have been better informed as to when to do his overtake attempt.
      AWS could also predict remaining tyre life at the current rate of usage. I’m guessing that with 70% of the life left in the tyres this wouldn’t affect braking, acceleration, or cornering very much, but how many laps has he done on them? They are medium tyres with an expected life of 20 laps. If Lewis had done 10 laps to get to 70% then he could probably push them out to 30 laps, but if he’d done 4 laps to get to 70% then he’s probably going to want to pit earlier than the 20 recommended laps.
      What’s to stop Sky from including a “tyre flag” beside the time interval “tower” on the LHS of the screen? So we can see not only the time interval between one driver and the next, but how good the tyres on each car are. For example, say someone has just come out of the pits and is chasing a driver ahead, we could then see how worn the tyres are on the car being chased. If that car has green or yellow tyres, then we know there’s only a small chance of the chasing driver being able to overtake, but if the tyres are “red” then we know an overtake might be on.
      Another aspect to this is it can highlight to the commentators and the broadcast crew which cars are worth following and which ones you could ignore. If tyre pressures were available to be monitored in real time, then again that could alert the TV people which cars have just been in a collision.
      I guess the question could become “Do we actually want to see this information?”. I think the answer is “Yes”, or at least “Yes, let’s try this out” (but I do want to see the race). .

      1. @drycrust My overwhelming issue with the tyre graphic is that I cant see how it can be even remotely accurate.

        I think it’s fair to argue that most teams/drivers dont know exactly how long the tyres will last – Hamilton was telling the team that they wouldnt last, and even Ferrari told Vettel that Hamilton was putting again as his tyres wouldnt last. Plus we often get examples of drivers using tyres for longer than pirelli’s recommended tyre life.

        Yet suddenly AWS have predicted the tyre wear accurately? Sorry, I dont buy it. It’s just misleading to fans.

        1. @minnis: Spot on. Bad data is worse than no data at all.

  3. Too much information is exactly right, @racinglines. I try to ignore it, but that’s getting increasingly difficult. But for one, I don’t really need to see a red bar telling me that the driver is braking into a corner, and a green bar indicating that he is accelerating out of the corner. Those overtake probability and tyre wear tables are just silly…just let me watch the race. But it’s like everything these days…those IT people are just convinced that they know better than us, what we really want…so they will give it to us and there is no other choice.

    1. Pedro Andrade
      30th October 2019, 13:11

      When the acclerating-braking bars were first introduced ~15 years ago it was actually very cool. I remember that M. Schumacher had a different way of breaking and accelerating in corners compared to the other drivers, and it was noticeable in this graph.

      1. I remember that M. Schumacher had a different way of breaking and accelerating in corners compared to the other drivers

        This is 2019 so something makes me think that one with MSC might be more than 15 years ago at this point

        1. Daniel (@bringmontjuicback)
          30th October 2019, 19:25

          Schumacher first retired in 2006, 13 years ago. And the first “modern” graphics package came into use in 2004, his last dominant year and exactly 15 years ago.

        2. David Not The Coulthard, if it was broken in the corners, he wouldn’t been accelerating again afterwards.

    2. 100% agree.

    3. As someone who loves having those bars in racing game HUD, I love those bars. I wish there would be more of them.

      If I could install them onto my real car I would. Thats just my personal taste though.

  4. To paraphrase Coultard-the numpty who put this together is obviously a gamer.

    1. @riptide Which is a good sign. Don’t underestimate gamer / game designer ability in presenting complex information in the most simplest and easily understood way. Your common company presentation graph and spreadsheet is boring, a game can turn spreadsheet management into a compelling activity.

      1. I never underestimate a gamers belief that something that looks good has no need to be accurate or of use.

        1. They need to paste glitter as the racing is often dreadful – something to keep the youngsters bedazzled.

  5. Too much information and bad quality information.

    The “probability of overtaking” graphic is terrible for me, it removes all the antecipation and emotion of the situation. It’s murder.

    The tire graphics are terrible too. I recall Hamilton saying his tires were gone while the graphic presented them as impecable (like 80%).

    It’s terrible: I don’t need them and I don’t want them.

    1. The “probability of overtaking” graphic is terrible for me, it removes all the antecipation and emotion of the situation. It’s murder.


      I don’t want to know this info, suspense of this manner is one thing quite unique to this sport over any other! Quite different to say a will he/won’t he score in football for example imo.

    2. Yeakel Edward
      30th October 2019, 16:26

      100% agreed. Kills the suspense.

  6. It is one of the reasons I have no interest in watching TV coverage.
    Having some graphics expert telling me what I should care about while a hyperactive commentator screeches and howls into the microphone isn’t my idea of entertainment.

    1. One of the admittedly rare bonuses of watching on RTL nowadays (since Sky fully took over in the UK) is that I don’t have to put up with Croft shouting his head off.

      1. He has no sense of pacing at all. Save the hysterical screaming for the last few laps of a close race not the first few corners.

      2. F1oSaurus (@)
        30th October 2019, 19:43

        @john-h I like watching the highlights on Formula 1 Youtube channel though and then I still hear the screeching “IT’S LIGHTS OUT AND AWAAAAY WE GO!!!! #$!%#!!#!$$ VETTEL @$!@%$!@%$!@%$ HAMILTON AAAAND &!^%!^&%@ VERSTAPPEN”

    2. Almost makes you long for the days of Muddy Talker.


  7. I’m not against the graphics but they need to be accurate/useful not just silly gimmicks like the tyre wear thing.
    F1 is very complicated and there are many fans who revel in trying to master the mass of information and make predictions and argue for hrs-days over the smallest details.
    I think that’s fine and good quality informative and accurate information in the form of graphics or a well written article on a reputable F1 site (RACEFANS) will help bring and keep new fans to the sport.

  8. Err, I actually like all the information! Specifically the left hand column of driver order and time gap. I’d like it to show current tyre use and pit stops permanently too. Most people today watch on large wide-screen TVs, so plenty of room, plus we’re all familiar with games stuffed with information. My only issue was with the latest tyre info image, where I tend to agree with Isola, it could be (probably was) misleading and open to too much misinterpretation. Much better just the visual shots of tyre wear already shown, also more dramatic.

    1. “I’d like it to show current tyre use and pit stops permanently too”

      Yep, I was thinking the same on Sunday, the most important stats and they’re not there.

    2. I actually like all the information! Specifically the left hand column of driver order and time gap.

      That’s the most useful part, and also the most irritating (when I don’t have my tablet set up with the timing app), and here’s why:

      They will decide that a battle is important: Say HAM vs VET. They will highlight those 2 on the timing bar on the left, which removes the timing. So, just as an important battle is happening they decide to remove the information about that battle just to show us the names of the drivers! (HINT: We already know their names!!!)

      I hate not having my tablet set up, because I end up stuck with only the information they deign to show us >:-|

      1. Oh, and a quick note on the timing app: A method of synchronising the timings with the TV feed would be very much appreciated. I can do this myself with the pause button, but it’s fiddly and distracting at the start of a GP. However, if I don’t the timing can easily be 30s ahead of the TV, meaning I see overtakes before they happen.

        Also, back to TV graphics: When showing the car data over the Halo and similar, it would be nice if you could sync it up. It’s irritating to have a second or so difference between what you can hear and what the graphics show.

        (I’ll stop ranting now)

      2. @drmouse Good point! @m-bagattini Matteo also mentions it below. It’s exasperating!

      3. Peter Waters (@)
        30th October 2019, 22:10


  9. The rolling speed graphics are largely pointless when comparing rivals. I’d rather see a peak speed per straight and apex per corner side-by-side.

  10. i LOVE al that data available. Sorry for the old farts complaining about it, but this is the way to engage new viewership: new demographics, and new markets. Also if you’re a hard core fan, this really enhance the experience.

    1. @matiascasali
      There is a great deal about your post that I could make fun of and ridicule.

      but that is probably because I am an old fart.

      I shall at least say though that “hard core fans” do not need a clip-art image of a car with differing colours of tyres in order to know the likely tyre wear of the driver involved.
      Some of us “Old Farts” can think for ourselves ;)

      1. How do you “old farts” know you’re thinking the right things?

    2. No matter how wrong or pointless it is? I dont need to know the gap if Vettel should pit, when he doesn’t have any intention of pitting. Now do I need to be told Hams tyre wear is down to 30% when it clearly isnt. Or the chances of an overtake when there is literally no chance and its clear the following driver isnt even going to attempt one.

      1. Actually yeah.

  11. “It’s all to do with the performance of the tyre. And the graphic is actually quite simple, and I think it’s the first AWS graphic that appeals to all viewers.”

    I don’t wish to claim anyone is out of touch in this discussion, but…

  12. Bring back the bottom screen position graphic.

  13. On the topic of a graphic I’d like to see… if they could give us comparisons of corner entry speed, apex speed and exit speed, my appreciation for AWS stuff would rise a little. The current comparison of just apex speed isn’t bad, but I think details of the drivers’ approach to the whole corner would be a lot more interesting.

    1. I’m betting that the drivers themselves would want to veto that although for us it would make interesting viewing.

      I reckon that these guys all know each other so well that out-braking, out-accelerating each other is one of the few secret weapons that they have whilst racing.
      If the secret to Lances success is is his late breaking then lets …. ermmm …. that went wrong somewhere ;P

    2. A top down camera above a corner showing each driver’s centreline superimposed lap by lap would be welcome. Stick an advert on the corner if you must.

      If it were me (and it isn’t), thinking creatively like this with how cameras are used would be most welcome, instead of spending time and effort on machine learning ‘chance of overtake’ graphics. The static camera at Spa was a rare moment sadly lost again, what happened to the thermal camera? Helmet cams in races, static cameras on bridges in the 1990s. All these things can work well, instead they are just forgotten about!

  14. says Young.

    Mol expresses similar sentiments:

    Who are Young and Mol? It’s not explained in the article who they are

    1. “Sky’s head of F1 Scott Young…”
      Not sure about Mol though!

      1. Olav Mol, maye?
        He’s the presenter of the Dutch F1 broadcaster.

    2. @mattj Apologies there was a code fault which was obscuring a few paragraphs for some viewers – that’s been fixed now.

      1. Thanks Keith, I thought I was going mad!!

  15. I’m all for info. I’m a computers nerd and F1 nerd, I need that stuff. BUT.

    The actual data are important. The guessing game they do with tires and overtakes probability is rubbish. Meanwhile, some of the most important data are completely missing (see the amazing mock-ups people are doing on /r/formula1, for tires history or yellow/green/purple sectors à là MotoGP for example). We still have the gap not shown when it matters, because they enlarge the cells of drivers involved.

    You know what’s funny in all this story? That the people targeted by those AWS crap probably don’t care a lot (you don’t stay watching because of the overlay, you stay watching because there’s good racing). On the other side, people like me who actually understand what’s behind and recognize AWS end up buying Azure services for the bad advertising Amazon is doing itself.

  16. So we thought, ‘How can we tell that story better by not using just team radio?’ So we set the guys a really strong test of using all the data we have


    This is where it starts to fall apart. Why? Isn’t it better to report directly from the sources instead of giving statistics wrongly calculated? Besides, Lewis ended up winning, had we actually had the data that his tyres were more than fine to finish it’s have extinguished all the tension immediately!

    Knowing too much is wrong. It’s what made the Schumacher years so difficult to swallow, same with the Mercedes era. Knowing in advance what’s going to.happen, even if it’s a prediction (and they’ll be trying to even more accurate) is wrong!

    1. @fer-no65 I agree, maybe it’s important to differentiate between information and projection. The information (‘facts’) I like, such as the time gaps, tyre use etc. For me that adds to the race. But projection enters the realms of the race managers (sorry folks, nothing personal). I don’t want to know so-and-so will ‘probably’ win or ‘probably’ emerge ahead after the pitstop, at least not as a continual feature. Used sparingly it can add to the race, but all the time and it becomes oppressive and cancels out any excitement.

      1. *By ‘tyre use’ I mean literally which tyres are being used, not that horrendous tyre wear graphic.

    2. No. The Schumacher, but mostly Mercedes (and Red Bull) years have been terrible because the FIA effectively set the rules so the team that gets closest to “right” at the beginning of the year wins it all.

      Little or no in-season testing. Limits on replacement parts without penalties. Intentionally terrible tires. Etc.
      If you get it partially wrong at the beginning of the year, you have very little chance of resolving it by the end of the season.

      1. Well, my point. Knowing right at the beginning of the season who’s going to win is one example

  17. As someone who deals with “data” of varying kinds (IT related) on a daily basis, I am of the opinion that high volumes of data is a good thing…but only if it’s of value, use and can be easily manipulated.

    I have no doubt that most of the data displayed on screen meets all of the above critera for the teams. Thus gathering this data is a must.

    However for fans, I believe it would be better to adopt a “less is more” approach…and the following needs to be removed from the TV feed:

    The tyre usage graphic is inaccurate- largely due to the track surface, tyre surface and other factors being so variable/changeable.

    The overtake possibility graphic – Even if this is founded upon previously gathered data, to my mind it removed the anticipation of an overtake, and could highlight reduced overtaking possibilities. Also, see above comment re track, car, and other variables. It’s a busy graphic and is not required.

    Anyway – so many other problems need addressing prior to TV graphics, so if it were me making the decision, I would do as above and worry about more important matters first.

  18. Really interesting, but one piece of feedback. Some of the verbatim quotes are confusing. As journalists I think you have the right to clarify what has been said if the interviewee’s sentence structure is confusing.

  19. I get where there coming from but still not really a fan of the AWS graphics. They & the general size of everything else makes the screen look far too cluttered at times.

    It’s a complaint i’ve always felt about the US style broadcasts to be honest, Think Indycar or NASCAR where the graphics are always designed to be way bigger than is necessary in part in order to be able to stick sponsor logo’s on them & it feels like FOM have done similar with what they introduced last year.

    1. @gt-racer While I also don’t enjoy it, I think it’s fair compromise to for the organizers (FOM) to find ways to fund F1. How much the cost of operating F1 circus? How much do I directly contribute? ($27/year from F1TV to be exact). At this point, I can accept a sponsor logo in the screen as long as it makes sense and within reason, which for AWS, it doesn’t bother me at all.

  20. I don’t want to be all “Bah-Humbug” about all this but there are too many graphics on the screen these days and most of them are massively unnecessary. The ones that really grind my gears are the “pit window open” graphic (which implies that drivers can only pit at certain times), the “overtake probability” graphic (I have no idea why this is necessary), the “pit stop battle” graphic (basic mental arithmetic can help you work that out) and the new for Japan tyre graphic which turned out to be completely out of sync with what was happening on track.

    F1 is complicated, I get that. When I started watching F1 back in 1992 as an 8 year old at no point did Murray Walker or James Hunt try to explain the absolute basics of the sport to me during the race. There was an implied understanding between them as the commentators and me as the viewer that they would tell me what is happening on track and I would, if I cared enough, try to fill in the gaps as best I could. And that is the way it should be. You do not need an encyclopedic knowledge to understand and enjoy the racing. The 8 year old me knew nothing of how active suspension worked and had no grasp of aerodynamics but it didn’t stop me from getting hooked on the sport. To get new fans hooked all you need is good action on track, a decent commentary team and a well directed broadcast. All the new viewer needs to know is that these are the 20 fastest cars in the world and that they are being driven by the 20 best drivers in the world. A better understanding of ERS, DRS and engineering comes later.

    The other sport I follow passionately is Rugby and I’ve been watching a lot of the matches at the Rugby World Cup over the last few weeks. At no point during any of the games did a commentator stop to say “right, so let’s explain the rules around the breakdown for all the new viewers shall we”. No one explained what the territory or line break stats meant.They just call it and that’s the way it should be.

    1. @geemac I get what you’re saying about explaining the rules, but Formula 1 does have a habit of changing them! Whether it’s technical design rules, tyre rules (compound uses), SC and VSC rules, driving penalties, qualifying structure, grid penalities – a ton of stuff, usually altering in some aspects every season, that the TV coverage now feels the need to explain to viewers. Whether it should is another question. It may actually be counterproductive (TMI) for casual viewers and superfluous for those who follow more intently anyway.

      1. @david-br Totally agreed, but there is a time for this and it is in the build up to the first race. There is also so much good journalistic content out there that any regulation changes will be discussed to death before each new season/race. On screen graphics are not necessary for that.

  21. F1 fans on this site just can’t be pleased.

    F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport! Make the racing more difficult! NASCAR fans can’t handle the complexity of F1! Stop dumbing down the sport! Quit changing things to make it easier to understand! Make the drivers do more work! Liberty is doing nothing to get more viewers/fans! Etc.


    The commentary is terrible, they explain too much! Stop with the extra graphics, it’s too much data! F1 is complicated, but don’t show us any of it on TV, real fans already understand everything! Drivers don’t want their telemetry displayed, it makes it harder for them!

    Such hypocrisy.

    1. Can’t see what’s hypocrite about that. Neither is mutually exclusive.

  22. I don’t mind getting more info on the race as long as it’s accurate and not just a finger in the air. The tyre graphics are pure guess work. If the teams don’t know what state the tyres are in going through the race, then how in the bloody hell is AWS going to know!?! I guess this is a simple “Pirelli say they’ll do 50 laps, they’re on lap 40 of the stint so there’s 20% of the tyres left”. Crofty was at pains to say a lot of work had gone into the calculations and graphics, but nothing explained, so I’m going to take it at face value and totally ignore.

    And on the note of Crofty, jesus he’s got to go. Had enough of the fun and japes and little one liners all over the commentary. Practises are getting rediculous to listen to.

    1. The interviewee actually explains it in the article. And no, it’s not as simple as Pirelli saying they can do 50 laps so 40 laps is 20% left.

    2. And on the note of Crofty, jesus he’s got to go. Had enough of the fun and japes and little one liners all over the commentary. Practises are getting rediculous to listen to.

      I’ve stopped watching the practice sessions because of how childish him and Anthony Davidson are – I know there’s not much going at times on but it’s like listening to a couple of teenagers sometimes.

      I find his race commentary incredibly annoying too. He’s in love with the analysis of the race, constantly trying to work everything out to the last millimetre to the detriment of actually calling the race that’s happening in front of him. He could be OK if he stuck to commentating and allowed Brundle to do the analysis.

  23. The most interesting use of tech in race broadcasting I ever saw (and it only happened once to my recollection) was an overlay of two drivers qualifying laps. Exactly like the ghost car imagery used in online games, yep. I think it was Schumacher and someone else, and the point was to make it easier to see exactly where Michael was making up time on some sensational pole lap. I distinctly remember being blown away by it, as I could really SEE the difference the driver was making. I always wished they incorporated it more for quali – much better than the side by side, stop, talk, play, stop, talk, play method Sky is currently using with Ant on the Skypad. That’s ok, but the ‘ghost’ overlay was waaaaay better IMHO.

  24. The only graphics you need is the live timings.

  25. When they start talking about “Telling stories” I cannot help but think WWE here we come. What is going to be next? Hero’s and Villains? Reality TV? Seeing the driver fight with his girlfriend before racing? Sounds like we are in for a ridiculous ride.

  26. I see most of this “Powered by AWS” graphics as what they are, an ad. I see issues in most of them:
    – Tyre Usage in percentage: a percentage is a representation of a ratio, what ratio is this? The grip he has compared to optimal? if a car by some chance had less than 95% of grip the pace would drop several seconds a lap. The amount of rubber? The “speed” he can turn in a specific corner? what it is? I don’t get it. Why don’t just leave the colors green-yellow-red and leave the percentages out?

    – Speed in corner: A car passing a corner at a certain speed does not bring me any useful information, then you have another one and you know: “Hamilton on lap 32 did 146Km/h on corner X, while Vetel on lap 56 did 139 Km/h in the same corner” What info does this give to you? Nothing.

    – Probability of passing: Absolutely imprecise… And not clear if it means “passing in the next lap” or “passing till the end of racing”. Currently it’s pretty rare to have a middle % fight. Fights are either to easy and driver behind passes on the first or second try. Or impossible and driver behind never tries (or tries once before give up). Imagine a perfect world where this info was perfect. What would you do if with half the race to go the info showed “0% probability of passing”, would you continue watching the race?

    – undercut/overcut: The only relevant graph with relatively precise information.

    If I was a potential AWS costumer I wouldn’t be very impressed.

    1. Considering they power most of the internet, one wouldn’t need F1 to be impressed by them.

      1. Yep.
        I know that?
        Why F1 for them, then?

        I simply don’t know, in marketing terms what does AWS has to gain with this kind of data insertions.

  27. I personally love the graphics and the data, so I’m glad they were introduced. I have watched F1 since the late 90s and personally loving the advancements in the screen info since then.

    But at the same time I also play a lot of video games (racing and otherwise) so these types of HUD feels fairly normal.

    I am not saying I don’t have my limits on the visuals I have on the screen but F1 so far has not surpassed it.

  28. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    30th October 2019, 15:20

    I really dislike the level of information you see now. Half of it is shockingly buggy and inaccurate anyway. Just last race near the start, even the driver order saw verstappen fall down suddenly and then go right back up quicker both directions than would be possible… If there was less there, i couldn’t notice these faults. But these overtaking probabilities are just silly in my opinion. What comes up with the total random percentages. just say an example a 47% chance of an overtake? Where does it get that from, who knows, it could be 48%… The probability just changes way too often. I don’t see the point of it. I know the other option – we could just wait and see what happens. Seriously, these graphics are beyond pointless. They ruin the excitement as well as the visibility. The tyre wear graphics were obviously very wrong simply while watching the first race they were used. Hamilton saying that the tyres are dropping off and the graphics saying they are still at 70%. Even Mercedes said they were past their best which was why they boxed him. What a useless random guess this is. It is just innaccurate mess that clutters up the screen.

    I myself preferred the graphics from a few years ago where you had a narrow discrete line at the bottom of the screen showing 5 drivers positions at a time, then ever 5 – 8 seconds or so, showing the next 5 and so on. Now we just have a huge ugly box on the left of the screen that the cars keep driving behind. Plus all the other graphics that are getting introduced. There is so much on the screen now that it is starting to look unrealistic and more like a game. While I am not keen on already having to pay for sky, i think that if you want all this extra information, you should pay for it as an extra – when it works properly that is. The basics really should have the screen less cluttered so you can simply see what is going on.

    It actually gets hard to follow at times when the screen is such a mess and crofty is speaking his unrelated nonsense. I would understand it better sometimes with just the driver order and nothing else.

  29. i really hate a lot of these graphics. not only do they make the screen look far too cluttered but they also take away some of the unknown.

    the pit stop graphics for instance show us if an undercut is likely to work or not which removes that unknown element that used to help create some tension. if you have a graphic that shows that hamilton is going to end up 2 seconds ahead of bottas after the stop then you have lost that bit of unknown of seeing lewis in the pits and then wondering where he’ll rejoin the track.

    the same with this tyre life graphic. if it was more accurate do we really want to know that hamilton has caught vettel but won’t be able to attack or try to overtake him because his tyres are losing performance? that totally takes away all the tension from the battle because we already know that lewis is likely about to start falling back.

    if f1 are going to insist on pushing this data onto the screens then they need to start making a secondary broadcast available that has less information, maybe only provide what we had 3-4 years ago with the timing and some of the telemetry such as what we have on the halo hud.

    i’m just finding a lot of this stuff taking away from the unpredictable feel of racing and i as knowledgeable/long time fan really would prefer to have the option to not have to have the race spoiled by it which is honestly what i feel its doing.

  30. I feel like most of the times I’m looking for something on the screen that isn’t there but it’s filled with things I don’t want to know or see. For example, I would prefer if the bar on the left showing the running order would always show the gap to the leader, as opposed to the interval timing it does quite often. And tyre information, please. How many times have we got a pitstop on screen where the camera is directly behind or in front of the car, and we have no idea what tyres it is on, until a wider shot gives us a glimpse of the sidewall. This could be easily remedied with a pit stop graphic that has the tyres involved somehow.

    The AWS additions this year are pretty useless; although maybe with a bit of tweaking some of them could be okay (for example, gap progression, and substituting “overtaking difficulty” with something like “at this rate, going to be within 1 second in x laps”).

    And let’s not even discuss qualifying. We follow one lap fully, and two others via the timing below. And the rest just pop up as cars go by the finishing lane.

  31. The only newfangled graphic I really like is the onboard Halo-cam telemetry one.

  32. What I think would be nice is if the viewer could choose the level of graphics they want to see.

  33. You need some sort of graphics to just get that feeling you are watching a tv. They give us usefull and more specific information like sector times, gaps etc.. Some on the other hand should be removed. I know they are trying to get something new for someone who doesn’t watch F1 so often. Still people can think and graphics should never underestimate the viewer. If driver A is in the pits and driver B is coming fast behind but you don’t know if B is going to catch or overtake A when he rejoins the race. You don’t need a graphic to tell if there’s a 90% change of overtaking, viewer can see that. That striking distance goes under same umbrella. I like some of those new graphics but don’t show us what we can see. Being unaware what’s gonna happen next is part of the sport.

  34. GtisBetter (@)
    30th October 2019, 16:53

    I get what he is saying and it makes sense, but the thing with algorithms is, garbage input is garbage output. If you don’t have the right information for an accurate tire representation, you can have the best algorithm in the world, but it would still show nonsense. I have never heard of a fan who stopped watching, cause they couldn’t figure out what degredation is or how strategy work. What happens is that they ask someone and then they understand.

    Some data I find interesting, like max speed, brake and throttle (not sure how accurate that is). Generally information that is direct. I am not a big fan of the data that shows if anybody gets ahead in the pits, or if anybody will catch someone, cause most of the times I know it. But then again I have the live timing, so I am also not against it if people like those graphics.

    And the data that for example shows that a driver will catch the person in front is based on the laptimes at that time and assume that the driver will drive those times all the time. But tires will get worse, which means that information is also not a good representation of the upcoming scenario.

  35. Bring back thermal superimposition on tyres, G-meter, brake / throttle bars

  36. F1oSaurus (@)
    30th October 2019, 19:57

    Personally I like all the information they can give us. It’s usually a huge lot better than the nonsense that the commentators are burping out. On RTL+, last race they though Vettel might have ended up behind Bottas after his pit stop. In reality Bottas was 3 seconds behind.

    I actually feel there is not enough information give to us. I would like to see some evolution in laptimes. Are the cars going faster than before or slower.

    Some charts on how the gap between two cars is reducing would be more indicative than a bunch of numbers.

    To be honest I run the F1 live app while I’m watching the race on TV. Gives you much more insight on what is really happening.

  37. Paul (@frankjaeger)
    31st October 2019, 1:05

    Get the basic graphics right first. I hate it when they only show 1-10 on the side

  38. “You know, where he’s complaining about his tyres”

    Hamilton? No chance.

  39. YoungAmerican
    31st October 2019, 6:54

    It’s taken them a year and a half to ruin the timing app and then bring it back to a slightly worse version than when they started, it’s just about ok. I suppose you’d expect this from someone who thinks reverse grids are a good idea. They are driven by money not the DNA of F1/normal sporting logic!

  40. I’ve been watching F1 for years (probably way too many) and to be honest, most of the time I just ignore a lot of the graphics and focus on the main picture.

    However, of late, I get a bit annoyed at the double whammy of a graphic being splashed on and Crofty rambling on about it (never failing to mention AWS).

    Keeping it simpler is my preference, I don’t need to know the probability of someone making a pass or even how long it will take them to get in range. I can work that out for myself by looking at lap times or visuals is the directors actually show the right cars at the right times.

    My biggest concern is not really the added graphics, it’s the fact that we see way too often the wrong cars being focussed on and we hear to often unrelated nonsense from the commentary team.

  41. F1 has a diverse viewer base, says Locke, “with some very knowledgeable and some not so knowledgeable. That first [pit stop] graphic is very much for hardcore F1 fans who like strategy, like to understand strategy.

    No. I’m a huge fan of strategy, but a big part of it is seeing how it plays out organically instead of a graphic telling me what is about to happen.

    It’s F1’s version of a spoiler (pun not intended).

    1. “We consulted with broadcasters, with commentators, [asking] what it is ‘you struggle to tell – undercuts, overcuts, these are famous ones?’ So those were our first ones.

      And how many did you ask whether they don’t want it at all? Surely, if only 20% say they want it, it should be reconsidered, no?

    2. This is a reference to the second AWS graphic, a visual tool used by commentators to enlighten audiences: “We told them ‘we’re not trying to steal that when they get there. That’s up to you.’ But we’re trying to enlighten the audience that there’s something brewing. Don’t go away. There’s something coming up…”

      Then you need to re-analyse how to use it better. Don’t spoil it for the viewer, but rather use it to inform the broadcaster that something is coming up, and without spoiling it, help them show us that live instead of showing them showing Toto 50 times a race.

    3. Sorry for replying to my own “thread” – it’s a long read, and many thoughts.

      But, imagine they are able to start predicting what will happen in a football match – e.g. “Chelsea will score a goal in 90 seconds”, based on all the data they can gather – what every player ate for lunch, whether they had an argument with their girlfriend, whether they are 0.15m/s faster than their opponent etc. – a hard thing to envisage, but say we get there one day.

      Would football fans not complain about that? I’m sure they won’t be happy with the constant spoiling.

      Again, use the data to make a better viewing product – get the broadcasters to show the things you’re predicting is going to happen. But for ‘s sake, let us enjoy the sport organically.

      Someone above said it’s a good thing that it’s designed by a gamer and DC is just old for saying that, but I cannot disagree more. I am a huge racing gamer(not in talent, but passion), nothing fascinates me more, the more data I can get during a race I’m doing myself, the better, as it makes me make better decisions. But when I watch racing, I want to watch it unfold with an unwavering unpredictability – it needs to be surprising.

      I don’t want the graphics to predict the future for me.

  42. So rubbish graphics when the most basic like tyre compounds and lap times are basically ignored.

    F1 is shooting itself in the foot if it thinks fans are morons who would not be interested to know what tyres the cars are on, or what their pace is.

  43. Tommy Scragend
    31st October 2019, 15:32

    “It’s not like football where you’ve got one ball, one pitch and 20 players.”

    Were there a couple of red cards?

  44. If the race is boring at least you’ll be distracted by the graphics. Unfortunately if it’s a great race you’ll also be distracted by the graphics.

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