Category Archives: Broadcasting

Formula One: Improving the Show – Tune in to the #USGP Early!

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If you’re the type of Formula One fan that likes to tune into Race Day coverage 5 minutes before the start having grown tired of former driver pundits sitting on the fence over pre-race predictions, you might want to make an exception for today’s US Grand Prix.

As Formula One Management continue to evaluate new ways in which to engage with fans, one focus of this weekend is a plan to “showcase the talent”. Formula One drivers, with a few notable exceptions, have long been criticised for lacking personality and not engaging with fans. Formula One Management plans to start to address this in the build-up to the US Grand Prix this weekend with a new addition to the Show.

WWE legend Michael Buffer has been drafted in for the race and will announce each of the drivers as they take to the grid ahead of the race. At this time, it is unclear what format this will take, and how driver introductions will be incorporated into the pre-race schedule, but if Buffer’s profile in WWE is anything to go by, an approach of ‘Go big or Go home’ will be on the agenda. Perhaps in a bid to inspire drivers to come out of themselves in their introductions, Usain Bolt, who bought showmanship to the world of athletics, is a guest of Formula One Management this weekend at the Grand Prix, no doubt he’ll be offering advice to a few of the drivers less comfortable being the centre of attention. Can you imagine the likes of Pascal Wehrlein mimicking Usian Bolt’s classic moments seen here:

One driver likely to thieve in this feature of an F1 race will be Daniel Ricciardo, never afraid to out his personality out there for the world to enjoy:

For drivers still looking for inspiration for the big roll call, perhaps they should check out these classic moments from WWE. Will Formula One management open a social media poll for the best introduction?

Another key point of interest in the build-up to the USGP will be the actions of drivers during the National Anthem, and rather than read about the actions of any driver in a post-race write-up, fans would do well to watch for themselves and hear the rationale for any actions directly from the drivers.

Should any driver elect to take a knee or simply not attend the National Anthem ceremony ahead of the Grand Prix, there are two key points to remain mindful of. First, the process of drivers coming together at the front of the grid to collectively pay respect to the National Anthem of the country in which a Grand Prix is taking place was actually only introduced in 2014 at the request of Russian Grand Prix officials. It is not a long-held tradition within the sport. Secondly, Sebastian Vettel’s reprimand for missing the start of the Japanese National Anthem 2 weeks go set a precedent for other drivers. If a driver misses the National Anthem or behaves in a manner outside of the recommended procedure they can expect a reprimand and penalty points. Armed with this knowledge driver’s can make an informed decision around how to present themselves ahead of the Grand Prix with team’s well positioned to define a rational penalties with a precedent having been set.

So, if for no other reason than to hear the voice of Michael Buffer and to see Daniel Ricciardo throwing some magnificent pre-race shapes. Every F1 fan should take the time to tune into today’s pre-race show, Live on Sky Sports and Channel 4.

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Formula One: UPDATED – Motorsport Network set to acquire stake in Mclaren?

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Over the past 12 months the Miami based business, Motorsport Network, has implemented a strategy of rapid expansion through acquisition across the motorsport industry. Motorsport Network, having installed Zak Brown as CEO following his departure from Just Marketing International, acquired the Haymarket Group, publishers of titles including Autosport & F1 Racing, along side the purchase of Amalgam Models, Forix Stats, Motors TV. Most recently the group have purchased a shareholding in Formula E. At this point the strategy behind this rapid growth is unclear. The Motorsport Network is owned by Russian Billionaire Mike Zoi.

Since the announcement of Zak Brown’s appointment as Executive Director of Mclaren Technology Group, in effect succeeding Ron Dennis’s position within the group, there have been questions around Zak Brown’s plans to combine his position within the Motorsport Network and Mclaren. Zak Brown has commented combining the roles is manageable and his ultimate focus is with Mclaren.

As Formula One heads into the 2017 launch season, Mclaren have stolen the limelight in suggesting the team will introduce a new look for the team of which a new livery will form the basis. Given the recent growth through acquisition model applied by Motorsport Network and the senior management position held by Zak Brown in both organisations, can we expect Motorsport Network taking a shareholding in Mclaren to be the next logical development for both groups?

Despite his removal from a management function within the Mclaren Group, Ron Dennis retains a 25% shareholding in the business. As the F1 team appear keen to embark on a new chapter in the life of the team, going as far as to drop the MP4 naming convention implemented by Ron Dennis, it would not be a surprise to see the sale of his remaining shareholding in the team. With backing from Mike Zoi, Motorsport Network have the funds to takeover the shareholding and present Ron Dennis with a freedom to pursue new projects.

As the covers are removed from the MCL32 on February 24th it will almost be a surprise not to see Motorsport.com (Motorsport Network) branding on the car, the question will be the extent to which the network become involved with the team moving forward.

Credit to Sean Bull Design for providing concept MCL32 livery design with the inclusion of Motorsport.com branding

The original article with  Tim Holmes artwork can be found here  (Posted Feb 17th AM)

Thanks to the MsportXtra collective for support in connecting fellow motorsport enthusiasts.

Formula One: Hamilton talks to the fans

A relaxed Lewis Hamilton took part in a Facebook Live event hosted by Mercedes AMG Petronas sponsor Epson earlier today. During the session Lewis took live questions from followers across social media.

Sharing insights on his favourite circuit, Macau and the Nordscheife, details on how a mistake in qualifying in Brazil 2015 cost him pole, and how he values having an input in the team look, it could be suggested the session was of higher quality than interviews conducted by professional elements of the media of late.

With the FIA calling Lewis Hamilton to the Thursday drivers press conference for the second race in succession it will be interesting to see if the media can extract a similar level of engagement.

Formula One: Sky to broadcast all races in Ultra HD from 2017 through Tata Communications

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Following successful trials at the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix, Tata Communications, Connectivity Provider of Formula 1, have confirmed Ultra High Definition (UHD) will be available for Sky at all races from 2017 onwards.

The successful proof of concept involved the installation of multiple state-of-the-art UHD cameras at the Singapore circuit. The footage from these was mixed in the FOM Broadcast Centre onsite, and the UHD output distributed live to Sky’s HQ in Osterley in the UK using Tata Communications’ Video Connect service. Video Connect enables broadcasters to deliver live video feeds over the world’s largest wholly-owned subsea fibre network, ensuring the highest quality experience for viewers.

“UHD offers four times higher resolution than HD, making F1 a more powerful, immersive experience for fans than ever before”says Keith Lane, Director of Operations at Sky.

“Delivering the race action seamlessly in UHD from any Grand Prix location to homes requires superfast, reliable connectivity on a global scale,” says Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director of F1 Business at Tata Communications.

The Tata Communications relationship extends to the entire Sky group, encompassing Formula One broadcast rights across the UK, Germany and Italy. At this time access to packages from the broadcaster to access UHD coverage have not been announced.  With the recent sale of F1 to Liberty Media it should be expected Tata Communications will be working to broaden to the offering of UHD content to the entire F1 broadcast community alongside accelerating plans around live OTT & 4K broadcasting.

Formula One: Red Bull Racing do Drones

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In the build up to the Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing duo Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen spent some time trialling racing drone technology armed with streaming Go Pro’s and VR headsets.

As well as showing of their drone handling skills(!), in the film below drivers give their analysis on the Monaco Grand Prix and look forward to the Canadian Grand Prix. Both expect the upgraded power unit to perform strongly around the circuit and hope to be able to compete at the front. Hopefully the two will avoid hitting each other on track, something they didn’t manage with the drones.

The use of drone technology is understood to be high on the agenda of Formula One Management’s technical revolution in race broadcasting and content creation, with trials expected to take place over the Italian Grand Prix weekend. which is coincidently a Grand Prix which Heineken are now a title sponsor. It is not clear if the trials will lead to imagery being used in broadcast or as a form of VR trail, but it is clear FOM are looking into new ways to present the sport.

Filming & streaming content from drones could enable FOM to showcase the sport in an entirely new format at a much lower cost than more traditional filming via helicopter. The sport could even consider the use of VR to allow fans to control their view of the sport from a drone. A direction, FOM, SKY, and Mercedes AMG Petronas partner Tata Communications is keen to facilitate and encourage as discussed in this interview.

FIA Formula E, trialled the use of drones earlier this year following the Mexico ePrix. Click here for more.

Formula One: Mercedes Monaco Madness

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The Merecedes AMG Petronas Magazine Show ‘The Silver Arrows’ reflects on the teams Monaco Grand Prix weekend, with an interview from Toto Wolff, Rachael Laenen, team hospitality and events manager, and Lewis Hamilton’s number one mechanic Nathan Divey.

Interestingly we hear Toto speak of his relief to have bought an end to the downward spiral of performance Lewis Hamilton had been suffering and how the team are increasingly seeing Red Bull Racing as the main challenger this season.

Rachael Laenen discusses the challenges of a Monaco weekend in which the team entertain more than 300 guests (including Justin Bieber) across 4 locations in an area with poor phone reception and even worse wifi. It was a surprise to hear the team resort to traditional radio communication over the weekend, surely partners Tata Communications and Qualcomm could have put together a more innovative solution!

Formula One: Tata Communications partner with Sky F1

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Earlier this month Tata Communications and Sky announced an expanded partnership overseeing the broadcasters Formula One coverage delivered entirely through Tata Communications superfast fibre network, which lays claim to being the worlds only wholly owned fibre network encircling the globe.

The agreement will see Tata Communications will support Sky’s strategy to create Europe’s leading entertainment company following its acquisition of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, will ensure a seamless race experience for viewers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria and Italy, regardless of Grand Prix location.

Keith Lane, Director of Operations at Sky commented on the partnership:

“It’s crucial that we’re able to bring our viewers action-packed, high-quality F1 racing experiences from Grands Prix around the world. And, as the way people experience F1 is constantly evolving thanks to technological advances that rely on superfast connectivity, there is scope for us to tap into Tata Communications’ global fibre network as we continue to drive innovation in F1 broadcasting”

All video feeds of the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship season will be distributed live in high-definition to Sky viewers using Tata Communications’ Video Connect service. Sky teams based in the UK, Germany and Italy will work in close collaboration with Tata Communications’ experts at race tracks and its remote operations teams, ensuring a seamless delivery of each race to people at home. Video Connect enables broadcasters to deliver live video feeds from anywhere in the world over Tata Communications’ IP network, with connectivity to over 240 countries and territories. Underpinned by the world’s largest wholly-owned subsea fibre network, it ensures the highest quality viewing experience for F1 fans.

“It’s crucial that we’re able to bring our viewers action-packed, high-quality F1 racing experiences from Grands Prix around the world. And, as the way people experience F1 is constantly evolving thanks to technological advances that rely on superfast connectivity, there is scope for us to tap into Tata Communications’ global fibre network as we continue to drive innovation in F1 broadcasting.” remarked Keith Lane

On this site earlier in the year we interviewed Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director of Formula One for Tata Communications, on the future of F1 Broadcasting, this overarching Sky partnership will facilitate rapid development in the directions mentioned in that interview. Speaking on the partnership Mehul comments:

“Bringing fans brilliant, glitch-free viewing experiences requires more than just reliable, superfast connectivity on a global scale. As fans increasingly want to be part of the action unfolding on the track, we look forward to exploring future game-changing technologies with Sky to drive innovation in F1 broadcasting.”

With an expansive partnership of this nature in place alongside SKY being awarded exclusive broadcast rights for Formula One in the UK from 2019 onwards, the broadcaster’s commitment to the sport has never been greater. Whilst some may argue the extent of Sky’s power within the sport could be detrimental for fans, the converse seems more likely, Sky are committed to the long term success and growth of Formula One, they will no doubt be exploring ways in which to add more services to the F1 broadcast product in the near future.

An interesting sidebar on the agreement is the name Sky itself. Many associate the broadcaster Sky with the need for a satellite dish on the side of your house, yet the Tata partnership will be reliant on a fibre network. Whilst this element of the deal is not customer facing, In a separate partnership Tata communications have resolved historical OTT (Over The Top – set top free view services) issues around live broadcasting. (see this article). Movement in this area will free Sky up to offer Formula One content to customers without a satellite dish. The ability to offer F1 through a streaming service with no risk of live delay opens Sky up to offering season passes, which could reduce the price point of the Sky offering, discouraging an audience from streaming content illegally at diminished quality.

Services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have shown the broadcast industry that customers are prepared to pay for content if the price point is right. What is a fair price for an F1 season pass?

The deal with Sky builds on Tata Communications’ expertise in F1 content delivery and highlights the company’s central role in the F1 ecosystem, working in close partnership with Formula One Management, The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, and many leading F1 broadcasters. Last year, the company was also chosen by Formula One Management to provide broadcast services globally for the GP2, GP3 and Porsche Supercup racing series.

Formula One: Brundle will miss the Baku GP

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SKY SPORTS F1 commentator Martin Brundle will step down from his commentary duties for the weekend of the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe coming from Baku.  Replacing the microphone for a steering wheel Brundle for the weekend, Martin will be racing  alongside his son Alex, in the Road to Le Mans event, a precursor to the Le Mans 24 hours taking place over the same weekend.

The Brundle family will be participating in the event with the Zak Brown, co-founder of JMI, owned United Autosports team in a Ligier JS P3 competing in the LMP3 category. Brundle’s place in the commentary box alongside David Croft will be taken by an existing member of the SKY SPORTS F1 team. With regular co-commentator for Free Practice sessions Anthony Davidson also otherwise engaged at Le Mans, it is likely Paul Di Resta will be stepping up to race commentary team in Baku.

SKY SPORTS F1 will confirm the commentary team following the Monaco Grand Prix.

Formula One: VIDEO – Mercedes explore the aftermath of the Spanish GP

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Mercedes AMG Petronas, through the teams You Tube Channel magazine show the ‘Silver Arrows Show’ have openly explored race attending fans response to the race ending incident between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix, and provided a detailed explanation as to the impact it had on the factory work schedule.

The film, as you might expect, provides a healthy balance of opinion from Mercedes fans as to which driver was responsible for the incident. Interestingly the fans giving opinion seemed unsure as to where on track the collision occurred and the decision of the FIA following the race, demonstrating how difficult it can be for a fan to follow the narrative of a race while at the circuit.

Returning to the factory, the film explores how the initial assessment of damage is made, and that over 1000 components would have to be checked and possibly replaced across the two cars. Perhaps most telling of why both Lewis and Nico showed such remorse for the collision was the news that one instant response from the team is to cancel any planned holiday including weekends for team personnel responsible for vehicle maintenance to ensure both cars are adequately repaired ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Formula One Memorabilia collectors keen to see the first items of the Memento Exclusives Mercedes AMG Petronas Shop should skip to 6:51 in the film to check out a the damaged side pod of Nico Rosberg’s W07.

Looking ahead to Monaco, the team will be keen to regain their position on the top two steps of the podium, Nico will be looking to secure his fourth consecutive Monaco victory and Lewis will be fighting hard to secure his first win around the principality for the Silver Arrows team.

Formula One: Red Bull Racing Numbers

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A second row lockout on the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix served to reiterate  the continued resurgence in form for Red Bull Racing and act as some vindication for the teams decision to bring Max Verstappen into the team replacing Daniil Kvyat after only 4 races in the 2016 season.

Max joining the team coupled with a sensational qualifying performance lead to a dramatic increase in FOM World Broadcasting Feed exposure and it has to be said a level of confusion with commentators and graphics editors, with numerous occasions of  the wrong driver being called during commentary or displayed on screen.

Whilst the FIA do mandate the onboard camera (positioned above the airbox) of one car from each team must be fluorescent in colour this indicator is often missed with viewers focusing instead on driver helmet or number. Unfortunately  Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo share a substantially similar helmet design leaving fans, broadcasters, and editors to rely on driver number.

Camera positioning around the Circuit de Barcelona – Cataluyna lends itself to many long, and forward facing front shots, with which, as you can see from the images used here, it is almost impossible to identify driver numbers on the RB12.

Red Bull Racing’s role in what promises to be a thrilling Spanish Grand Prix should be significant. Taking this into consideration, could the team please move driver numbers to a lower point on the nosecone to enable quick and easy identification for all!