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

( – Formula 1 broadcasts have 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 strategies are explored.


Charles Leclerc examined the helmet camera extensively final yr


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 connected to the helmet liner, followers can get a nearer have a look at what the riders can see by the visor and seize spectacular footage alongside the approach.

A very good 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 struggle, giving him nice perception into overtaking in the struggle 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 of Racing Force Group, which developed and owns the Driver’s Eye know-how, tells that security was a high precedence throughout improvement to achieve FIA help.

Safety comes first

“Our imaginative and prescient was not, ‘We must have the camera with the greatest image.’ We began with security necessities,” he explains. “We labored backwards with it. This was the most troublesome 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 does not contact the cam,” continued Charistos.

The camera is mounted on the protecting lining of the helmet at eye degree scaling

Finally discovered a camera that matches the small area. The electronics had been related by the automobile and to the helmet through a very skinny cable. According to Charistos, the innovation comes after “six to seven formal makes an attempt” to combine camera know-how into the driver’s helmet.

“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 know-how into its program.

So Charistos and his companions spoke to Formula E, which he mentioned was “very receptive”. Formula E proved to be a superb improvement discipline for Driver’s Eye, though some parts of the dashboard had been obscured on account of the considerations of the groups.

Working in Formula 1 has all the time been a long-term aim – 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 take a look at,” says Charistos. “It was actually enjoyable.”

The first take a look at generated enthusiasm

Charistos tells how he stood in the Formula 1 broadcast middle with TV bosses Roberto Dalla and Dean Locke and noticed the first footage broadcast by Driver’s Eye. This was alleged to be simply the first take a look at, however that rapidly modified.

“After a few seconds, they checked out it and mentioned, ‘Can we air it?’ We wish 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 grew to become an necessary a part of Formula 1 telecasts. All riders with Bell helmets – who’re a part of the Bell Racing Force workforce – 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 practical.

Charistos believes the know-how has been “very nicely acquired” 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 investigate 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 workforce is involved, they will see what you are changing on the switches, making it non-public.” Unlike Formula E, in Formula 1 there was no blurring of varied messages or actions on the steering wheel.

Will all racing collection 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 finally yr’s assembly. Charistos says the system might 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 venture, it was a dream state of affairs that this know-how could be obtainable to everybody. That was one factor that acquired us all working in the identical course and fascinated about customization.”

Formula 1 helmet camera

A small camera with a massive influence: it is going to quickly be with all drivers scaling

The present Driver’s Eye camera belongs to the 2.5 era and is virtually 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 also be thought-about as additional developments are made.

“Skiing is a nice instance,” says Charistos. “Imagine you are taking place 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 taking place nicely even in the closed vehicles. I’ll be in Australia in March for the Supercars season opener and we’ll roll it on the market. It’s thrilling.”

In follow, this may increasingly not do a lot for drivers and groups, however in the Drive to Survive period, when followers had been anticipating extra of the driver experience, Driver’s Eye pushed the boundaries.

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