For the 2018 Formula 1 seasons, mandatory 360-degree cameras are to be mounted on every F1 car in the race. But will they add anything to the viewing experience?
Formula 1 is, once again, trying their darndest to improve the viewing experience of their F1 races for fans. But this one might be a case of fiddling for the sake of fiddling. According to Auto Sports reporter, Tobi Gruner, in his tweet he posted earlier today (Nov. 24, 2017) Formula 1 cars will have to place a golf ball-sized 360-degree camera smack dab in the middle of the chassis, in front of the also mandatory halo. Can they make Formula 1 cars even more ugly?
— Tobi Grüner 🏁 (@tgruener) November 24, 2017
This 360-degree camera comes off of successful testing with technology partner Tata after two live 360 degree cameras were tested on two cars during the Singapore Grand Prix. This certainly isn’t anything new, testing 360-degree footage on fast cars.
Red Bull already gave us a taste of what we could expect two years ago when they mounted a camera on their Red Bull RB8 race car Check out that footage below.
While the availability of such footage will certainly increase the viewing pleasure and analysis of the race, there are a couple of pitfalls that need adressing.
For one, the current image quality and streaming rates of 360-degree cameras means that, at best, even if you could stream at 4K rates, there is still so much more data that you need to handle. As such, the resulting image isn’t all that fantastic. Check out this more recent footage from a 360 degree camera from Mercedes. See what I mean?
Then there’s the entertainment value it adds. 360-degree footage isn’t all that exciting past the first 30-seconds of viewing, at least in my experience. After a while, it just gets a bit monotonous. It’s cool, but it’s not enough to keep me glued to a race like good ol’ racing action does.
Finally, there’s the aesthetics. Presumably, it costs thousands of wind-tunnel hours and x amount of dollars to develop the most slippery bodies. In a game of hundredths of a second, every competitive edge counts. I’m sure team aerodynamics engineers will have a field day with this camera.
I’ll be keen to check out just how good these cameras are come the first race of the season. Most likely, they won’t do much for me.