A1 and Superleague show F1 the way

A1GP\'s live timing includes GPS tracking and instantaneous car data

A1GP's live timing includes GPS tracking and instantaneous car data

A1 Grand Prix and Superleague Formula may not be your cup of tea but they can teach F1 a thing or two about using the internet to reach out to fans.

Here’s a look at their enhanced race live timing systems for fans and official Youtube channels.

Enhanced live timing: A1 Grand Prix

A1 Grand Prix live timing (click to enlarge)

A1 Grand Prix live timing (click to enlarge)

Here are two screen grabs from A1 Grand Prix’s live timing system.

The first looks fairly similar to F1′s but the second shows some excellent innovations including a live GPS position tracker showing the location of each car on the track. On the right you can select whichever team you are following and monitor the speed and throttle and brake inputs of the driver in real-time.

A1 also offers live TV streaming over the internet and video highlights on the official site and on its Facebook group as well. All excellent ideas for promotion that F1 should copy.

A1 Grand Prix live timing (click to enlarge)

A1 Grand Prix live timing (click to enlarge)

Video sharing: Superleague Formula

I think the idea of a motor racing series based on football teams is about as cynical as they come. But offering an official Youtube channel (which I discovered via BritsonPole) for video sharing is an excellent promotional tactic.

Even better: the videos aren’t locked, so fans are free to embed them on their own sites.

I may never watch a Superleague race, but respect to them for being in tune with what modern sports fans expect. Formula 1 may be the better sport, but in terms of fan engagement it is a long, long way behind.

What other innovations have you noticed other motor racing series using?

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21 comments on A1 and Superleague show F1 the way

  1. Robert McKay said on 24th November 2008, 11:18

    The A1GP live timing is impressive, it has to be said. However I find it very often breaks when I’m trying to follow a session. Still work to be done on the reliability of it, though the actual detail is very cool.

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th November 2008, 11:27

    …whereas the F1 system isn’t half as ambitious and still crashes all the time!

  3. John Spencer said on 24th November 2008, 11:44

    We occasionally get glimpses of what F1 coverage could be like, but nobody thinks to follow through.

    Sometimes on the TV coverage we see an overlay of rev counter, gear and g-meter. Why isn’t this available online for all cars? The same goes for a track map with the locations of the cars. It’s the kind of information that may not be of interest to the average viewer watching TV (which is why we rarely see it), but that makes the F1 website the ideal place for it.

    As far as TV coverage of the races is concerned, it strikes me that not a lot has changed in the many years I have been watching. There are cameras on each corner, which are used to show the narrative of the race. They usually zoom in on an approaching car, then track that car through a corner. Occasionally there is a camera embedded in the track that we see once or twice during the race. Apart from that the only static shots are of the pits. And on some circuits there’s a helicopter cam which usually follows the cars on one straight.

    This works to show what’s happening reasonably well most of the time. But it’s basically about using as few cameras as possible to cover the entire track. So when a car pulls 3g through the final corner onto the main straight and is rapidly up to seventh gear and nearly 200mph, what we see is an extreme telephoto lens shot that is almost static because it’s taken from so far away. It doesn’t really give an impression of speed. And when a race is quite uneventful in the latter stages (eg China 2008), it makes for repetitive viewing.

    If you watch any recent movie with a good car chase, it’s easy to see how multiple viewpoints and reasonably rapid cutting makes for a more engaging presentation. Sure, that’s not a fair comparison given that F1 is 2 hours of live action, where a movie car chase is 2 minutes of action cut together from 2 weeks of production. But the directors/producers do need to up their game. The highlights videos on formula1.com show how far a little imagination can go.

    And surely, there should be multiple cameras on each car. The TV networks around the world should get all the camera feeds, not the locally mixed single feed.

    None of this is rocket science and none of it would cost Bernie a penny in revenue. It might even boost viewing figures.

  4. On the WTCC website, you not only get race highlights, but full races with full commentary as well. I find that very impressive. But of course having your broadcasting rights owned by a satellite channel means that they have to do it to attract more fans.

  5. Formula One could do WAY more to give the viewer an overview AND insight of the action. Both on TV and online. Even when there’s nothing going on at the track. Bot that probably costs money, and F1 (i.e. B.C. Ecclestone) wants to spend as little of that as possible.

  6. > I think the idea of a motor racing series based on football teams is about as cynical as they come.

    You could be right about it being cynical, Keith. But as cynical as they come? Is this epithet really better applied to SLF ahead of either Bernie Ecclestone or Tony Teixeira and their respective philosophies towards motorsport?

    (thanks for the link, btw)

  7. See also http://uk.youtube.com/user/A1GPOFFICIAL and http://uk.youtube.com/user/indycars – if three different series can do it, why can’t F1?

  8. to begin with it would be perfectly OK if F1 offers people watching on TV what people on track get from Kangaroo TV. tha could be the step one …

  9. Keith; just a suggestion.

    Over the winter; can you develop a live-timing system similar to the ones in A1 GP for this website? Then; we won’t have to depend on the handicapped “official” website anymore.

  10. I’ll get this post deleted but who cares.

    Sumedh, what a wanky thing to say.

  11. Patrickl said on 24th November 2008, 18:59

    I have never had F1 live timing crash.

    Actually, I once thought about writing my own Live timing software. I hacked the Java software and received the live timing data files. Back then it was all simple data in an ASCII file (that’s a few years back though, not sure what they use now).

    I wanted to be able to follow the data while on track at a circuit. So I was thinking about PDA software.

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 24th November 2008, 19:27

    John Spencer – The sad thing is, there are loads of other angels, and there are loads of other cameras on the cars – but viewers on the bog-standard TV feed (most of us) never get to see them. When FOM released the extra cameras after the Fuji controversies you could see just how much stuff gets missed. If BBC gets to use the better feed next year, that will be a major step forward.

    Matt – yeah the WTCC site isn’t bad either.

    LJH – Perhaps my football snobbery is rearing its head…

    Milos – Good idea.

    Sumedh – I don’t like to say ‘no’ to ideas, but I think that would be miles beyond my technical abilities and I suspect I’d be on dodgy legal ground as well. If anyone else can figure out how to do it, I’d be interested to take a look, but I suspect FOM might as well…

  13. Robert McKay said on 24th November 2008, 19:52

    To be fair to F1, their live timing has only broken on me a couple of times at the tail end of last season, only in races and when the WDC was at its most intense.

    The A1GP live timing has refused to work for me on various occasions for practice and qualifying, and that’s ignoring the simple fact that the number of people interested in it is a fraction of that of F1.

    A1GP has a lot of good ideas, but sometimes tries to run before it can walk. Anyway lets hope F1 adopts this one.

  14. michael counsell said on 25th November 2008, 1:03

    Ideally there could be some kind of mobile internet timing / highlights so you can see the timings on your phone / pda / portable whatever without disrupting everyone elses viewing. The technology may even exist now, I’m not sure. Mobile phone companies would love to sponsor F1 teams if it actually gave people a reason to upgrade their phones…

    F1 needs to stay in the real world where people use real names unlike Youtube…

  15. Yes, really FOM need to be looking at providing the standard coverage for the average fan on TV, with a mix of data and camera angles, and a message saying ‘see more of this on the website’. And then the website can be used by the more devoted fan to get lots more extra data, and maybe follow your fravourite cars side by side – camera angles, track position etc.
    Just think of the possibilities that would open up for scenarios like the last lap of Brazil 2008…..
    Also, do the team websites not share their information? They really ought to, considering how much fans have to pay to join up.

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