Last year, Formula 1 in association with Amazon Web Services, introduced a range of new graphics that contained ‘insights’ into key elements of the race, such as when a driver was likely to pit, how much life was left in each of his tyres, and how likely a driver behind would catch and pass the guy ahead, and if so, how long it would be until said ‘attack’ materialised.
The problem was, most of it seemed to be made up on the spot. It was absolute bollocks. Captions would appear that said a driver had 80% life left in his tyres as he headed into the pits for a new set, a guy who was 90% likely to overtake the guy ahead was still miles off at the end of the race, and the predicted ‘attacks’ were often so far in the distance that the landscape had changed completely by the time it was meant to happen, rendering the information completely useless.
Quite what data AWS used to generate these ridiculous ‘insights’ I’m not really sure, but they seemed sufficiently blunt so as not to differentiate between someone hammering their tyres and someone going nice and steady on a similar set when determining their estimated comparative lifespan.
These ‘insights’ were largely ridiculed by everyone from experts to your casual fan (if such a thing exists these days!) who, almost to a man, said they should be binned.
So what do Liberty and F1 do? Of course, they say ‘we hear your objections, we take them on board, and we’re going to introduce MORE!! How do you like that??’
So with some fanfare this morning, they’ve announced that AWS will be providing them with new ‘insights’ (always in inverted commas), such as grading each car/driver out of ten for low corner speed, straight line speed, driver skills rating and a range of other useless nonsense, generated – they claim – from ‘over a million data points per second that are relayed back to the pits’.
Part of me thinks that they trying desperately to think of a use for all this ‘exciting data’ they’re harvesting and this is the best they can come up with. Either that or it’s a way of shoe-horning AWS (with whom they clearly have some sort of arrangement) into the action five or six times a race.
Well, I have to tell you that it adds nothing to the show. To me it feels like they’re trying to spoon feed me opinions and outcomes that I can quite easily arrive at myself. And actually, my journey to these conclusions is often quite enjoyable.
It’s like being in the cinema and halfway through the film, your mate leans over and telling you what he thinks will happen in the end, saying he’s read about it in the paper. But what he says contradicts what you’re seeing with your own eyes, and in any case, he’s always wrong. Either way – wrong or right – he’s irritating.
Perhaps this sort of thing would be better tucked away on their website so the fans who want this sort of stuff can find it, and it doesn’t get in the way of those of us who want to experience the action as it unfolds, as and how we see it.