Formula 1 teams are renowned for their innovation, pushing the boundaries of technology to make their cars go faster.

The same mentality exists off-track. Capturing one of the world’s fastest sports on camera isn’t easy, but the series continues to find new ways to advance broadcast technology.

Director of Broadcast and Media Dean Lock said in an interview: “There’s a new element every week.”

The series will have between 23 and 28 trackside cameras per race, plus 10 in the pitlane and a camera on a helicopter for aerial footage. These are complemented by miniature cameras on all cars, allowing you to see the driver’s face in front, behind and in the cockpit. Footage is broadcast live from each car, with information such as speed and his G-forces collected from nearly 300 sensors.

However, Formula 1 was keen to bring fans even closer to the drivers during the broadcast. The success of the Netflix series Drive to Survive proves the popularity of the human side of the sport. The challenge in F1 was to maintain personal drama once the race started.

One of the biggest broadcast advances in Formula 1 this year is the helmet camera. Following last year’s trial, a 10 mm x 10 mm, or less than half-inch, camera is mounted on most driver’s helmets at eye level, and fans can also see through the visor from the driver’s position. . .

This means the producer can switch to the driver’s point of view in real time. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was battling Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the lead at the season-opening race in Bahrain when a helmet camera went off. Fans could see Leclerc shifting gears and adjusting the steering wheel in the cockpit while looking in the mirrors as he passed Verstappen for the win.

“It shows what a driver has to do while driving at 200 mph. He thinks of strategy, talks on the radio, drinks, [operate] All the systems on the steering wheel,” says Locke. “Having one hand on the wheel while they’re doing something else is pretty cool.”

The basic premise of the helmet camera was to convey the driver’s point of view, but Haas’ Kevin Magnussen said his position in the car was even lower than what was broadcast. “With that camera, you can see the car’s nose arch, but we can’t see it,” he said. You can only see it from the side.”

Magnussen thought it was a “cool view” for fans and the closest to being in a car, but admitted it was difficult for drivers to double-check and assess their driving. I got

Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guan Yu is also difficult.

“Analyzing my driving line compared to other drivers is a nightmare,” he said. “But it’s very cool footage for the team, especially for the fans. It’s for the audience. It’s less private for the team because they can see what they’re changing on the Switch.”

When a similar camera angle was used in the electric racing series Formula E, the team requested that the steering wheel screen be blurred to avoid revealing the secret. But F1 is more open and less blurry, showing fans how the driver makes constant changes via his steering wheel, such as brake bias and engine settings.

Another way Formula 1 has brought fans inside the cockpit is by mounting cameras behind the foot pedals. This perspective last appeared in his 2000, but was revived earlier this year with a camera mounted under the car’s feet by McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo to show his accelerator and brake footwork. The team helped race officials find a way to mount cameras and mount small lights in enclosed footwells without adding noticeable weight to the car.

“Great legs!” Norris said jokingly. “All I can see now is that the pedals are slightly out of position because they are slightly tilted. You can see how much you are pushing and so on.”

Formula 1 has also experimented with drones using cameras for live broadcasts for the first time in Spain. This is what Locke called the “test in the air” approach. This gave fans a closer look at the aerial view from many corners compared to traditional helicopter shots.

Locke acknowledged that the drones didn’t get the shots “we wanted” and admitted that drones are unlikely to replace helicopters for aerial photography.

“But maybe in the future,” he said. “We do a lot with our helicopter use, which is good for our sustainability.”

Formula 1 allows camera footage to be used in “Drive to Survive”, but is also improving its own broadcasts with feedback from the show’s producers.

“When they first came out, it was really funny just seeing them through a different lens,” Locke said. “There are some elements that we looked at and said, ‘That’s a really good way to tell that story. Can we do it live instead of months later?'”

But the biggest lesson we’ve learned from the success of the Netflix show is that we need to get closer to Driver, whom Rock called “our sport’s hero.”

“We are behind the car and thinking about anything we can do to open the car up and make it human,” he said. “We’ll find out about this amazing thing through Team Radio, listening to drivers stressing out and being able to interview drivers getting out of their cars hot and sweaty.

“We are very fortunate to have access.


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