How a helmet camera is changing the Formula 1 experience on TV

Formula 1 broadcasting has made many strides over the previous decade to higher inform followers and improve their viewing experience. On-screen graphics are continually evolving as new camera angles and methods are explored.

But no camera angle can provide followers as actual an perception as the so-called ‘driver’s eye’ helmet camera in the Formula 1 cockpit.

With a small 9x9mm camera hooked up to the helmet liner, followers can get a nearer have a look at what the riders can see by means of the visor and seize spectacular footage alongside the approach.

The battle between Verstappen and Leclerc confirmed potential


An excellent instance is the opening race in Bahrain 2022, the place Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen battled for the lead for a number of laps. Formula 1 administrators had been in a position to swap to Leclerc’s helmet camera all through the combat, giving him nice perception into overtaking in the combat for victory.

Creating a camera that might ship tv footage and at the identical time meet the security necessities of the helmet was a main problem.

Alex Charistos, a spokesman for Racing Force Group, which created and owns the Driver’s Eye expertise, instructed that security was a high precedence throughout growth to achieve FIA assist.

Safety comes first

“Our imaginative and prescient was not, ‘We must have the camera with the finest image.’ We began with security necessities,” he explains. “We labored backwards with it. This was the most tough as a result of we needed to discover the proper place on the outer protecting lining, close to the driver’s eyes.”

“The cam must be smaller than the pad when compressed so the driver face would not contact the cam,” continued Charistos.

Finally discovered a camera that matches the small house. The electronics had been linked by means of the automobile and to the helmet by way of a very skinny cable. According to Charistos, the innovation comes after “six to seven formal makes an attempt” to combine camera expertise into the driver’s helmet.

Formula E: a subject of nice growth

“It was our first success, what a success,” he says. “At first I in all probability did not even notice it, however individuals anticipated it.” But Formula 1 was not instantly able to introduce the expertise into its program.

So Charistos and his companions spoke to Formula E, which he mentioned was “very receptive”. Formula E proved to be a wonderful growth subject for Driver’s Eye, though some components of the dashboard had been obscured as a consequence of the issues of the groups.

Working in Formula 1 has at all times been a long-term objective – and with the exclusivity window ending in the summer time of 2021, little time has been wasted. “Ten days later we had been at Spa with Fernando Alonso and had the first check,” says Charistos. “It was actually enjoyable.”

The first check generated enthusiasm

Charistos tells how he stood in the Formula 1 broadcast heart with TV bosses Roberto Dalla and Dean Locke and noticed the first footage broadcast by Driver’s Eye. This was presupposed to be simply the first check, however that shortly modified.

“After a few seconds, they checked out it and mentioned, ‘Can we air it?’ We need to air it!” – he mentioned. “I mentioned, yeah, okay, let’s try this. As quickly as they did it, about 30 seconds, a minute later, all the telephones in the room had been ringing! Everyone wished to know what it was.”

“Driver’s Eye” quickly turned an necessary a part of Formula 1 telecasts. All riders with Bell helmets – who’re a part of the Bell Racing Force group – have been fitted with such helmets for the previous yr. The camera place has been refined to enhance viewing angles and stability, making the video so life like.

Formula 1 driver Zhou Guanyu thinks the pictures are “wonderful”.

Charistos believes the expertise has been “very properly obtained” in Formula 1 and has benefited all events. “We run a enterprise, Formula 1 produces content material and may promote it to a broadcaster, and the groups get extra consideration,” he says. “Especially the driver himself.

Last yr, Zhou Guanyu joked that the “Driver’s Eye” angle “made it a nightmare to research my line in opposition to the others (cameras)”, however admitted that it was “very cool footage”.

“It’s extra for the spectators,” added the Alfa Romeo driver. “As far as the group is involved, they will see what you are changing on the switches, making it personal.” Unlike Formula E, in Formula 1 there was no blurring of assorted messages or actions on the steering wheel.

Will all racing sequence have helmet cameras quickly?

The success of Driver’s Eye has allowed the system to be rolled out throughout Formula 1 by 2023, as requested by the Formula 1 Commission eventually yr’s assembly. Charistos says the system could be tailored as wanted for helmets from competing producers.

“The key was to develop one thing that we already knew how modular it might be to adapt it to totally different contexts,” he explains.

“When we began this challenge, it was a dream state of affairs that this expertise could be accessible to everybody. That was one factor that acquired us all working in the identical path and excited about customization.”

The present Driver’s Eye camera belongs to the 2.5 era and is nearly 50 % lighter than the first era (from 2.5 to 1.4 grams) and has shrunk from the authentic 21×12 to the present 9×9 millimeters. Other makes use of outdoors of motorsport may even be thought of as additional developments are made.

Will different sports activities use helmet cameras quickly?

“Skiing is a nice instance,” says Charistos. “Imagine you are happening a slope and you’ve got a nice view. But you do not have a automobile. You solely have an athlete. And there are security guidelines. So the place do you get the energy provide and all that?”

In motorsports, the curiosity sparked by the “Driver’s Eye” can unfold all through the world of racing, even in a closed cockpit like NASCAR.

“Everyone enjoys the alternative to supply viewers this immersive experience from a driver’s perspective,” says Charistos. “It’s happening properly even in the closed automobiles. I’ll be in Australia in March for the Supercars season opener and we’ll roll it on the market. It’s thrilling.”

In apply, this will likely not do a lot for drivers and groups, however in the Drive to Survive period, when followers had been looking forward to extra of the driver experience, Driver’s Eye pushed the boundaries.


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