Sneak peek: Ross Brawn’s plan to destroy F1 as we know it

Yesterday at the AWS conference, FOM technical boss Ross Brawn from Liberty Media gave away some insight in how Liberty will change the way we are presented a Formula 1 race.

AWS, a sponsor of the series, is a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides on-demand cloud computing. In recent times, the company has been developing machine learning, also known as AI (artificial intelligence), and it appears that Liberty will soon be using that technology in their race broadcasts. Even as soon as next year.

See a sneak preview of what to expect in 2019

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In the presentation, Brawn shows examples of how the technology will alter the way we consume the race, live. Gimmicks such as ‘overtaking probability’ and ‘driver performance’ data will be thrown up on the screen during any moment deemed necessary.

The computer will calculate probabilities and inform the viewer of what might happen next on the track.

Of course, on paper this seems a fantastic plan. Give more insight into what’s actually going, but instead of relying on the traditional means to do so; the commentator – the cloud based AI will provide it’s understanding of the race unfolding, fuelled by live telemetry along with historical stored data. 

Again sounds great, right?

Well, perhaps not. It could be argued that Ross Brawn is looking into entertaining fans in a rather overly engineering fashion? F1 is a very technical sport, but does having such gimmicks enhance the race for F1 fans, or is this catering for the digital generation, who might swan in and out of a race or indeed an entire season?

Maybe the fact that Liberty are keen to increase the revenue partnership with Amazon’s AWS means that such developments are inevitable. Liberty as a company must increase revenue after all, think of the promises to their share holders.

I would argue that rather than rely on complex machine learning as a means to enhance racing on screen, the cars themselves need to be changed to make on-track action the spotlight and not a gimmicky overlay. Further, the teams themselves need to take some responsibility for the entertainment side, and accept some fundamental changes to the way the sport is run.

Why not make the in-depth live timing free to all, showing sector times. Once fans understand that then suddenly races are transformed, just ask any die hard F1 fan.

That said, it might be argued that these gimmicks are necessary to appeal to newer watchers of the sport, and in particular the younger generation who are used to data rich entertainment (is there such a thing??).

Let us know your opinion on this by leaving a comment below.

The full presentation by Brawn is the video player: