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F1 driver tracker to continue

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Andrew Benson | 10:26 UK time, Thursday, 22 July 2010

Following the success of its introduction at the British Grand Prix, BBC Sport has decided to continue with the new Formula 1 driver tracker feature.

This device allows you to see the location of all cars on the track during the race and we think it provides a neat complement to the rest of our coverage.

The best use of it is probably in addition to the TV output as a way to better understand the race - and the feedback we received after Silverstone was generally really positive, with many of you explaining how it had helped your appreciation of the action on the track.

It is particularly useful, for example, during the pit-stop period, when you can follow easily whether a driver has emerged from the pits ahead of or behind the rival he was racing before his stop - something that is not always picked up by the TV director.

As at Silverstone, the driver tracker - which is provided by Formula 1 Management (FOM) - will be added to our live video module on Sunday.

I know a few of you had difficulties finding it over the Silverstone weekend, and that there was some confusion about when it would be available. Sorry about that. In the interests of absolute clarity, this is what you need to know:

It is a video feed and it will appear in the live video module at the top of our live page covering the German Grand Prix. (This is the page that will be headlined "Live - German Grand Prix" and that is first published on the homepage of the BBC Sport site ( and F1 ( about 90 minutes before the start of the race.)

But of course the driver tracker only goes live when the cars are on the track, so it will be available only from the start of the race at 1300 BST.

It will be the first option after the main F1 video - which means you will need to click on the link that says "driver tracker". This will be found in the carousel directly below the main video image. It will appear in the middle of the three options that are visible at the default setting - you can scroll to show the other options, which are the in-car camera channel, alternative commentary streams and rolling highlights.

And just to be clear, the tracker will not be available for practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.

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A short video of the F1 driver tracker, which will be available during the German Grand Prix on Sunday

For those of you not familiar with it, the driver-tracker option features a top-down circuit map, on which the drivers are identified by colour-coded shapes bearing their standard FOM three-letter abbreviation (ALO, for Fernando Alonso; HAM, for Lewis Hamilton; BUT for Jenson Button etc). These identifiers move around the track as the cars do, allowing viewers to track the progress of the drivers and the visual gaps between them.

As I say, the graphics, abbreviations and other features of the tracker are all developed by FOM themselves - but we're really pleased we've been able to include it as part of our overall F1 package.

We hope you enjoy it - and please do let us know what you think.


  • Comment number 1.

    I had this on during the race, but I am confused why it has to be done as a video rather than as a HTML5 or Flash web-app. I had an iPhone driver-tracker app for the 2009 season and that was about half a second *ahead* of the TV feed.

    Because this is done as a streaming video there is a huge lag and the positions are about 2 seconds behind the TV feed making it pretty much redundant.

    If this was done as a web app the amount of data being transmitted would be much less, the feed would not have to be encoded to video before being transmitted and the demands on the server would be much less. It seems a very inefficient way to go about it.

    Also, are there any plans to roll it out to cover qualifying and the test sessons as these are more chaotic and it would be useful to help determine which drivers are out on track and where.

  • Comment number 2.

    Great news! Really enjoyed the use of the tracker.

    The only suggestion I would have is it would be good to see the car moving along the pit lane, as opposed to going into the corner of the screen and saying 'In pits'. This way we get a better idea of where the car is in the pit lane in relation to the other drivers. (Obvious exceptions being when a car has retired)

    Either way im glad something like this has come along, a very good compliment to the TV coverage,

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for the info, found the driver tracker for the British GP. It was really useful, although it was quite difficult to find.
    The bit I thought was the best was when Vettel had a puncture on the first last and it was amazing how fast Hamilton and Webber were catching him.
    This wasnt portrayed on TV as the director was concentrating on the front runners and they all weren't probably in the same shot, but, this the tracker showed how close they were to catching him.
    Keep up the great work BBC team, I have followed F1 for about 30 years and lost interest when it went to ITV. I hope BBC keep F1 for many years to come.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was useful indeed, but I agree with post 1. The fact it is a video is bizarre and not what I was expecting at all. It also means you lose interactivity - if it was an app rather than a video, you could add mouse overs for each driver to show their last lap time, position, etc.

    As it happens, it was a bit behind the TV commentary, and I decided I'd rather watch the live timing board on

    That's not to suggest it is redundant, but I feel it could be more useful that it currently is.

  • Comment number 5.

    I tried watching the driver tracker via the red-button on the TV. Although impressed by it, I was disappointed that I could only see it on it's own. This would be improved if you could include a box showing the main TV feed, like there is when you go 'on board'.

    Apart from that, great stuff - please keep it coming.

  • Comment number 6.

    I agree with #5 - it would be much more useful as a floating window and even better if the slight real time lag was sorted out. I found myself watching the race on TV and referring to the tracker to monitor real distances so overall I think its a great idea that just needs a little tweaking

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your feedback so far. To pick up on one of the key points you're making, I can assure you that presenting this as a video is at the moment by far the most efficient way of us getting it to you as quickly as possible. We are of course, though, constantly looking at ways to improve our output.


  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks Andrew + BBC team. The tracker was brilliant during the last race. I now have it and the F1 timing screens up with the TV feed, and it really provides a great perspective on what is going on beyond the picture we can see on TV. It's a great feature.

    I must agree with Ben that, over the internet, an app would be much better than a video feed. The F1 timing screens are a java app and this works well. I appreciate that the BBC are just middle men in this case, I guess a web app would be best provided by F1 themselves.

    Anyway, awesome work! :)

  • Comment number 9.

    As others have said, it's a fantastic feature but the use of video streaming as the method of delivery seems slightly odd. I appreciate you are taking a feed from FOM so are tied to their system.

    It is a nice step forwards and greatly improved my enjoyment of the race. Just need to drag Bernie kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Seems he's stuck in 1990!

  • Comment number 10.

    I agree with all of the above, except I found it easily at the British GP, thanks for adding it but hope it can be improved to be smoother & less lag.

  • Comment number 11.

    To back pedal slightly, I don't want the comment I made above to be seen as negative. Perhaps just a suggestion for improvement.

    Overall, the BBC's F1 coverage is absolutely top notch, and keeps getting better. This is another great addition to the line up, but for now I'll use my laptop primarily for the timing board for the reasons mentioned above. I'll still flick to the driver tracker; it's good for getting an idea of distances between cars - especially those that the race director isn't picking up - but the live timing screens are typically more useful for seeing who is in pits and who is pushing hard etc.

  • Comment number 12.

    Excellent news that the driver tracker is to continue, even if it does mean me now using a total of 5 screens to watch the race!

    I'd like to add my vote to those asking for this to be in the form of a Java app in the future, similar to the live timing service.

    Also I'd love to see it in qualifying to aid spotting those crucial gaps in traffic necessary for a hot lap. Do FOM provide this and if so does the BBC have any plans to take it in the future?

  • Comment number 13.

    If a video stream is 'by far the most efficient way' (is this because most of the image is static, therefore the encoder has less data to send?), could you enable sync between 2 browser windows/flash players (with javascript external interfaces) so it would be possible to stream the race and driver tracker side by side in time with each other?
    This could be extended to include all video streams so we could have in car etc running along side, assuming our broadband lines can cope with the multiple video streams.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with point one, and think this is something that needs to be looked at on a wider plain...

    I have free view in some rooms and cable in another room, and sometimes have a stream on the internet (radio or TV). and I live very close to Manchester United ground..

    When United score I can hear the cheer - on normal radio the goal is 'live' and right in sync with the cheer...

    However - Freeview is 3-4 seconds behind, Cable 4-5 seconds behind and online radio coverage can be upto 10 seconds behind...

    During the World Cup this was even more noticable...I noticed that a lot of 'live' games broadcast by the BBC and it's rivals kicked off 2-5 minutes late....

    I was speaking to someone in South Africa whilst the Brazil Nederlans game was on, and it finished a full 1minute 30 seconds before the UK TV stations showed the final whistle...not really 'live'

  • Comment number 15.

    "it will appear in the live video module at the top of our live page covering the Germand Grand Prix."

    Germand? :-)

  • Comment number 16.

    Too much coverage and new technics for Formula 1. I appreciate your efforts to get the best coverage. But why you guys are not bothering about MotoGP? one hour coverage.... I think it is not right! Hopefully will get good coverage as F1.

  • Comment number 17.

    I also used the Tracker during Silverstone, along with the live timing from FOM (or is it FOA, can never remember which) while watching the race at the same time. Who says men can't multi-task?! It's a pity the 'live' material isn't completely sync'd, though, with some bit more live than others.

    Watching Webber on the Tracker get closer and closer to lapping Vettel in the opening laps was great. Sadly, the SC came out, and that was that. Still, a great addition to the viewing experience. Thanks.

  • Comment number 18.

    If you're a McLaren, they provide live info from their cars on their website at

    Worth a look when the race is on.

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the clarification on where to find the tracker. I think it was confusing when it was originally said that it would be running whenever the cars were on the track. Of course it turned out it was only available during the race, which is good to know, and I found it easily.

    Please congratulate the techie team behind it on my behalf, they've done a good job. And I'm sure we'll see the app version sometime next year or something. Some people are never satisfied, aren't they?!

  • Comment number 20.

    Re comment 19, I have to pick you up on that - we never said it would be running whenever the cars were on the track. We said the tracker would show the position of all the cars in the race, and then went on to say two or three paragraphs later that it would be in the video player, which is at the top of the live page whenever the cars are on the track.

    But we accept that some people were confused by that - hence the apology and the step-by-step instructions this time.

  • Comment number 21.

    I have a tv with picture in picture so all I did for the GB gp was to have the driver map as a screen in the top right of the screen, and had the live timing on the laptop. I felt like I was on the pit wall.LOL

  • Comment number 22.

    The driver tracker is a great addition to the coverage, and im glad to see it staying

    One addition I would like to see is the ability to pick 2 or more drivers from a drop down menu (or something similar) to enable me to monitor the gap between them. For instance, at Silverstone, I wanted to know if Jenson Button was building a big enough gap to get out ahead of Rosberg et al at his pit stop

  • Comment number 23.

    Yup, it was pretty good. Don't mind it being a second or so out. The most urgent lag issue to sort is the delay on the alternative red-button TV commentary where the radio 5 feed is a second ahead of the pictures (ie at the start, Crofto's hollering "3 lights! 4 lights! 5 lights!" when we're looking at 2 lights! 2 lights! 4 lights!) Very minor but this actually makes it fairly unusable - (it means i have to put up with Leggardz on the first lap, that's when he's at his most flusterdunderheaded.) Been a problem all year, is someone looking into into it? that's all!

  • Comment number 24.

    We plugged hubby's laptop into the spare 22" tv with the driver tracker running, and it was great, side by side with the live tv feed. My laptop was running live timings from the Formula1 website and we could keep track of every car, and where everyone was. As mentioned in your article it was really useful when cars pitted to see where they would come out.

    I am so glad it's going to be on the German GP, lets hope it can extend at some point to qualifying, that would be great :-)

  • Comment number 25.

    As per all the comments above, love it, bring it on for quali whenever poss as that is really shambolic. I note everyone's feedback about video but the main thing to remember is that it gives driver position, not timing - the best use for it is when they're lapping and/or coming out of the pits. And it's better than paying £20 for a Bernie app! At the mo I have the timing screen, this tracker and the McLaren Race 1b screen up - I need a bigger laptop as would also like the on board! Perhaps when Bernie finally gets HD we can also get an interactive screen so that we can choose the on board as an insert on to the main picture or something (for those lucky enough to get the full BBC feed, i.e. in the UK)

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent news that this feature will continue - thankyou. This for me is a great complement to the F1 live timing. I agree with the above posters about the timing lag but please don't take it negatively and not show in the future because even with a bit of a delay it certainly adds to my viewing enjoyment!

    Once again thankyou you guys really are doing an excellent job including for geeks like myself who don't just turn the TV on on the odd Sunday!

  • Comment number 27.

    The use of "video" deliver this is a real pain for those of us with a less than fast broadband connection. To be greeted with the usual rotating circle of dots every thirty seconds renders it unusable.

    A Java or Flash version (with selectable quality) would go some way to alleviate this.

    If video is to be used, please could you consider a lower bandwidth version (it is only moving coloured dots after all)

    Back to good old Live Timing this weekend again :-)

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm sure that at some point during qualifying Jake reported on the tracker, but it was'nt made clear then or on the trailer that it would only be available during the actual race, or that it would have the lag on the F1 live timing.
    Those of us on BBC Freesat (non HD!) also have to put up with a 3 second delay behind the Freeview transmission, and the Live Timing.

  • Comment number 29.

    I found this a good feature, although I thought there were some improvements to be made.

    I assume it's a video feed as your taking that directly off what FOM feed to the pit wall.

    The audio track seemed unnecessary to me. I know there's a mute option, which I used, but I felt the extra bandwidth being taken us was wasted. Would be interested what others felt about that, or if they even realised it had sound.

    Not sure how much control the BBC has over the tracker, assuming it's a direct feed from FOM. But if I was a team boss I would at least want the name tags fixed so they didn't overlap, perhaps rotate or swap sides.

    Tracking the distance between two drivers would be nice, although that's not something necessarily for the tracker, a live timing screen could be used for that.

    I would like to see a zoom and follow option. Allowing closer inspection of the gap between the cars. For Vettel, it would have been interesting to watch him catch the cars in more detail than what is currently available.

  • Comment number 30.

    My frustration with the driver tracker was that it was about 10 to 15 seconds ahead of the TV pictures I was viewing on my Virgin Media service. So, I could see on the tracker that a driver had got out of the pits ahead of another, or overtaken another before I saw it 'live' on the TV. So it detracted from my viewing experience.

  • Comment number 31.

    I imagine that Andrew's statement " is at the moment by far the most efficient way of us getting it to you..." relates to the way the BBC *already* has an infrastructure to deliver video streams via television, red button and the Internet, whereas all of the options being suggested would require *extra* resources to be created (and wouldn't be portable to the TV-based methods).

    If the BBC say they're working on better ways to present this information to users then that's good enough for me - the fact that this already gives more data than I can get via FOMs official data feeds is a bonus!

    However, since the BBC's core business is video, it's a bit disappointing that there isn't already a way for them to better sync videos up. I guess it's not a huge deal for most programming, but for live simulcast feeds it's critical for them to be their most useful

  • Comment number 32.

    I think the introducation of the driver tracker was a great idea: during the Silverstone GP it was interesting to watch Vettel lagging behind the others, an aspect of the race not picked up by the commentary team until much later. Feeling you have got "one up" on Martin Brundle certainly adds to the enjoyment of the race! It also gives viewers a better perspective on the race and is much more visual and user friendly than simply watching the timings on the F1 site.
    Keep up the good work BBC!

  • Comment number 33.

    If I'm to be honest, I'd prefer it for every session - take this morning in practice, wet conditions, lot of cars off the circuit - it'd be very easy to identify using driver tracker when a driver has gone off - hence its use in other sessions, same with qualifying if a driver is blocked by someone else, it'd be easy to see whom is blocking who.

  • Comment number 34.

    I agree with D_M_N_ - it would be very useful in practice and qualifying sessions.


  • Comment number 35.

    I ended up splashing out on the F1 2010 Driver tracking app on my Android. It costs a bit, but it does all sessions, and allows driver comparison. Plus I don't have a PC near the TV - which makes running between rooms a little hard! Love driver tracking though, it adds a real extra dimension to the race - even more so in quali where you can actaully tell who's still got a hot lap.

    Great stuff BBC keep up the good work!

  • Comment number 36.

    An excellent idea and I rate it 9/10 (you lose 1 point for the delay problems). Being a video it is very expensive to use via a mobile dongle. This means it is only practical for home use. A shame, as I would like to use it at the grand prix so I don't have to guess what car is coming next.

  • Comment number 37.

    I really enjoyed having the driver tracker alongside the race on the telly. My only suggestion would be that the safety car be shown as an SC dot on the tracker when it is deployed.

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree it would be nice to see the Safety Car. And that it would be nice to see the cars drive along the pit lane. But it's a really great feature to have.

    Arranging the window to be visible at the same time as the Live Timing on the website on a 1028x768 display was a big challenge. It was possible - *just*. It would have been a bit easier without the strange "rainbow" border that is visible around the edges which is a total waste of screen space. Why can't the tracker screen be scaled to fill the whole video area?

    Finally, for the love of god, why oh why is Practice 3 missing from the iPlayer yet again? I emailed the BBC three times last time, twice to the f1 address, once to the iPlayer address - all 3 emails were ignored.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your feedback on this - and I hope you enjoy the driver tracker again today and for the rest of the season.

    If I could answer, post 38, I'm sorry you did not receive a response to your e-mails - we get a lot, as you can probably imagine, and while we do, eventually, read them all, it does sometimes take some time to get round to them.

    I can, though, answer that particularly query here, even though it's slightly off topic.

    The reason we do not do either highlights of practice three on the website or put it on the iPlayer is that every thing we do has a cost and resource implication and we have to draw the line somewhere.

    One of the ways you can tell how important F1 is to the BBC is by the fact that it is one of very few events that gets red button content on to the iPlayer, which is normally reserved only for network programmes. However, as I say, everything has a cost implication, and it was decided that final practice offered the least value as it was so close to qualifying.

    If you want to watch it but cannot see it live, you can of course record it on any digital PVR.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why don't you just put a link to it on your front page? Having to hunt around for it once the race starts is not acceptable. The official F1 site does just that for live timing.

    As has already been said, this needs to be a flash or Java app, certainly not streaming video.

  • Comment number 41.

    "It is a video feed and it will appear in the live video module at the top of our live page covering the German Grand Prix."]

    Errrmmm... Speak English please. For goodness sake, why not just replace the above text with a simple hyperlink? It surely cannot be THAT difficult.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yes, I agree with 40, the tracker should be made available at least 10 minutes before the race starts.

  • Comment number 43.

    There is a link to it on the front page - it is in the live page. And it is mentioned on the front page, too. We can't directly link to the driver tracker as it is a videostream within the live video module. The site doesn't work like that. And in terms of availability, we make it available as soon as we can.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have a dual display from my laptop so I can watch the Live Timing + the Driver Tracker both at full screen and watch the race itself on the TV. Not much difference from the telemetry viewed by the teams on the pit wall.

    I also agree with post 1. The tracker should be a data type app and not a video feed.

  • Comment number 45.

    I see you are all persisting in your wish for this to be a data-type app. I will repeat what I said before: doing it as video is the fastest and most efficient way of us getting it to you, whatever you might think about any delay you might be experiencing.

  • Comment number 46.

    I notice you have made changes to the driver tracker this week. Sadly for the worse!

    You've made the actual tracker smaller which in turn means it's a lower resolution so harder to read and follow. You've also added Picture in Picture of the race which is distracting as it isn't in sync with the tracker or the live feed on my TV.

    What exactly is the point of this? Why can we not have a full screen tracker? If I want the video I can just open another browser window. Really quite disappointing to see such a great feature ruined.

  • Comment number 47.

    Soon after I posted that comment above (#46) the PiP disappeared and the tracker went back to its full size. Presumably it was a mistake and we won't see that again? I'm glad it is back to how it was last week anyway.

  • Comment number 48.

    I would be good if the circuit colour changes to reflect where & what flags are being shown. e.g. yellow flag at corner 3, flashing for waved yellow, etc.

  • Comment number 49.

    Thank-you Andrew for the answer re Practice 3. My confusion was partly fuelled by it previously being available on the iPlayer, so when it stopped being on the iPlayer, I didn't know what to think.

    Great to have the tracker again. I see there is a secret version with Picture in Picture! Hard to say which I prefer - bandwidth wise a non-PiP version with no sound would be the most frugal.

    I understood perfectly the reason for it being a video stream (currently) was because that way we can get it sooner - ie an earlier launch date - waiting for a java app version to be developed would mean we may not have it until the end of the season/next year/even later. I'm not sure why others didn't get that, perhaps it was the reading of your term "most efficient" being misapplied to bandwidth instead of launch date!

  • Comment number 50.

    I was looking forward to trying it but turned it off after the first 30 seconds. it's not realtime, its so far behind the bbc1 live feed on TV it's pointless to look at.
    secondly there is no option to remove the audio track, even at zero volume i'm sure i'm streaming the audi data, eating into my data allowance.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hi Andrew,

    I was very pleased that the picture-in-picture disappeared, it was a pointless and irritating addition. Worse, the video stream was 4:3 safe with the result being the track was so small as to be almost useless.

    Once it returned to "just" the driver tracker it was far clearer. I did have to reload the page though, as by then it was lagging so far being the live TV pictures. However after that it didn't get any worse than about 3 seconds behind which was fine, leading me to suspect that the delay was down to the extra bandwith of the superimposed picture.

    So to sum up:

    Driver tracker excellent, picture-in-picture bad.


  • Comment number 52.

    What strategies do drivers and their teams use during a race?Besides the driver, who are the other people on the team?
    And Why is a Formula One car still a car, even though it has got no roof, doors, or bonnet?

  • Comment number 53.

    If Alonso was faster then Massa then why wasn't able to pass him.
    it wasn't fair on Massa. And i think that the F.I.A should of punished them more then just giving them a £100.000 fine how lucky was that BOO HISSSS

  • Comment number 54.

    Its not about any one being fastest alonso is a great driver every one has a bad day so as alonso had .i don't even want say that Massa is a bad one but i guess alonso is better then Massa . alonso is a major face when it comes to [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] of big brands as they use him as brand ambassador.

  • Comment number 55.

    I think Kimi have got more points than alonso, really kimi is more spectacular, may be bad day for alonso, why we don't have [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] race championship or heavy vehicles race. I would love to see these kind of events. As concern to car racing, i am the big fan of Formula1.

  • Comment number 56.

    Do the BBC still show the driver tracker?


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