With Liberty Media at the helm, F1 has been introducing various graphics to improve the spectacle. While some have been well-received, others… less so, similarly, a few other enhancements have been quite amusing.
A classic example was during the 2017 US Grand Prix when the shadow of a giant eagle seemingly passed by during the race. Later, it transpired that the eagle silhouette was a CG figure.
On Wednesday, at the AWS conference, FOM technical boss Ross Brawn from Liberty Media gave away some insight in how Liberty will change the way we are presented a Formula 1
AWS (Amazon Web Services), a sponsor of the series, is a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides on-demand cloud computing. In recent times, the company has been developing artificial intelligence. Now, it appears that Liberty will soon be using that technology in their race broadcasts as soon as next year.
In the presentation, Brawn shows examples of how the technology will alter the way we consume the race, live. Gimmicks such as ‘overtaking probability’ and ‘driver performance’ data will be thrown up on the screen during any moment deemed necessary.
The computer will calculate probabilities and inform the viewer of what might happen next on the track.
Of course, on paper this seems a fantastic plan. Give more insight into what’s actually going, but instead of relying on the traditional means to do so; the commentator – the cloud based AI will provide it’s understanding of the race unfolding, fuelled by live telemetry along with historical stored data.
It could be argued that Ross Brawn is looking into entertaining fans in a rather overly engineering fashion? F1 is a very technical sport, but does having such gimmicks enhance the race for F1 fans. Or is this catering for the digital generation, who might swan in and out of a race or indeed an entire season?
Maybe the fact that Liberty are keen to increase the revenue partnership with Amazon’s AWS means that such developments are inevitable. Liberty as a company must increase revenue after all to fulfill promises to their share holders.
Rather than rely on complex AI as a means to enhance racing on screen, the cars themselves need to be changed. The focus should be to make on-track action the spotlight and not a gimmicky overlay. Further, the teams themselves need to take some responsibility for the entertainment side, and accept some fundamental changes to the way the sport is run.
A solution could be to make in-depth live timing free to all, showing sector times. Once fans understand that then suddenly races are transformed and far easier to understand.
That said, it might be argued that these gimmicks are necessary to appeal to newer watchers of the sport, and in particular the younger generation who are used to data rich entertainment.