Mercedes urging Formula 1 teams to provide more data to help TV viewers

Formula 1 teams could supply more data to enhance TV viewers’ enjoyment of the sport, says a senior Mercedes engineer.

Dom Riefstahl, the World Champions’ race support team leader and test engineer, believes such a move could be done without giving too much away to rivals.

An increase in the amount and range of data provided to fans has occurred since F1 formed a partnership with Amazon Web Services – tyre wear, car development and driver performance being the key areas displayed.

Riefstahl oversees operations in Mercedes’ Race Support Room at their Brackley headquarters.

It was during a race weekend when he was on paternity leave and watching the grand prix at home that he realised more of the team’s data channels could be filtered through to fans in order to increase their understanding of what was happening.

“I think it shows the opportunity,” Riefstahl told Motorsport.com.

“There’s still a lot of data we can provide to the fans and the public, or to the people just doing the commentary and talking about the race, in terms of helping them make more out of the story and understand some of the background stuff that’s going on.

“If you have more of that data available, and you had someone who understands how to read the data and explain it, you can just show so much better what is actually going on.”

By way of an example, Riefstahl explained: “In FP2, you could overlay Lewis [Hamilton’s lap] against [Max] Verstappen and say ‘look, you can see he’s gaining there but losing there’ or ‘they’re on a different wing, they’re on a different power-unit mode…oh, he’s turned up his engine’.

“All of these things are very readable from literally just the speed trace, and you’ve not really given anything away. Everyone knows the speed of the other cars because you can see if you’re going faster your speed will be higher, and if you’re going slower your speed will be lower.

“You’ve not given away any trade secrets and at the same time you can just paint so much wider a picture of it.”

Riefstahl added that as all teams used the GPS data made available by the FIA, there was “no hiding behind it” and that he was surprised F1 had not already tapped into it that data.

 

“They are starting to do it a little bit,” said Riefstahl. “There are some things teams wouldn’t want, like you wouldn’t want to give away some of the modelling you do around your car to understand how it works, because that would literally give away your trade secrets.

“But there is other information you could easily give away. For example, I don’t see why the FIA don’t make a deal with Pirelli and say what is your actual tyre wear? Which tyre will run out first for the majority of cars? What does it mean in terms of balance?

“If Pirelli was just to present that data to everyone, which they have, because they collect it on all the teams, they can anonymise it and say the average around the paddock is this.

“If you take even just the top five, that’s what will happen at the top of the race and you can just make so much more of a story from it.”

 

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