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BBC F1 introduces driver tracker

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Thursday, 8 July 2010

This weekend BBC Sport is launching a new aspect of its online Formula 1 coverage.

We will be adding to the selection of video feeds available to UK users on the website a graphic showing the live location of all the cars on the track during the race.

The animation, which will be selectable in the video section at the top of the F1 live page, is provided by Formula 1 Management (FOM) - who call it a driver tracker - and we hope it will prove a nice complement to the rest of the BBC's F1 coverage.

The best use of it is probably in addition to the TV coverage as a way to better understand the race. It could be a huge help, for example, in the pit-stop period, when the TV coverage does not always show whether a driver emerges from his stop ahead or behind a rival. The driver tracker will show you all this live.

The driver tracker will be added to our live video module - which we locate at the top of our live page on the website whenever there are cars on the track. This module also has live video coverage of every on-track session, an in-car camera channel, alternative commentary streams and rolling highlights.

A sample image from our new F1 driver tracker

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.

After a recent update, the live player, as we call it, automatically gives you the best quality video your broadband connection can tolerate - and we have discovered that at least 80% of you are now getting the high-quality video at all times.

We are making this available for this weekend's British Grand Prix as a trial, with a view to introducing it for the rest of the season.

So please do try it out and let us know your thoughts.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Cool feature but can the BBC put any more pressure on Bernie for HD? This is what the viewers really want...

  • Comment number 2.


    Can this be applied to events like the Grand National?

    Whilst living abroad and having no access to coverage, I suggested something like this so that ex-pats could at least follow events as they unfolded. It would be a real boon. One micro-chip on the back of a competitors race number and away we go! This could also be applied to The Derby, athletics, Tour de France, The Olympics.........

    Pandora's Box is now open for business!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you sooooo much, I think this will really help people understand a complicated sport. as a hard core f1 fan this is amazing, it would have great been during refuelling years with fuel strategy playing out. You must advertise this during the show, it will add a new element to formula 1 for lots of people. Thanks bbc.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is a good move forward as you will be able to see who is gaining on a pitstop scenario. Quick question, how will it denote who is a lap, or 2, behind so that we know the real position etc.

  • Comment number 5.

    Fantastic! Having seen clips of this display before I was hoping we'd have access to it one day.

    Unfortunately this means I may have to commandeer my wife's laptop (her only source of relief during a GP) to have in front of me during the race.

    This would be perfect on an iPad come to think of it, although I'm assuming it's flash based...

  • Comment number 6.

    Fantastic! BBC coverage on my plasma tv, laptop in front of me showing the FIA timing screen and now the tracker! This goes to show just how far the BBC will go to give the fans the coverage they deserve.
    As per post 1 though, lean on Bernie a bit about HD. It's what the world wants, not just the UK!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Andrew,

    I have a couple of questions.

    Firstly good on the beeb techs for getting this feature added. It seems very similar to the Soft Pauer iPhone app, that you get charged £20 a season.

    Now that the BBC is supplying this feature online, free, to all its loyal licence payers, is there the possibility of the BBC writing an iPhone app allowing this to be used to all people based in UK? Or maybe releasing the feed to allow someone such as me to write one? ;)

    Also, on the BBC website, many people have noticed that the race information details that Silverstone will be available in HD. Can you confirm that the SD feed will be upscaled into HD from now on, until the FOM release a fully HD stream?

    Many thanks again, and good work on the driver tracking!

  • Comment number 8.

    Will this be available to view in the Republic of Ireland?
    I'm guessing it won't be seeing as I don't get most videos. It's a shame really because I always watch the F1 on BBC. It does look very good though and will add alot more to the F1 experience. @4 I think you would be able to tell that by the right hand side, if you look at the picture you can see it shows a leader board.

  • Comment number 9.

    Will this content be available outside the UK? I wonder why the FIA does not already provide this as a complement to its live timing on the website...

  • Comment number 10.

    Great feature and I'll give it a go this weekend. But I agree with pmj - F1 in HD please!

    The BBC coverage is the best it's been for years and years - the super slo-mo shots really highlight how beautifully and perfectly designed these cars are. Imagine how great those shots would be in High Def, though!

  • Comment number 11.

    Fantastic! I've often been watching the action whilst waiting for information on the gaps between certain drivers to pop up and this will go some way towards instant satisfaction!

    I have a laptop open during races for the (albeit delayed) position list and have always wondered why, in today's day and age, we don't get to access ALL the data that the guys in the commentary box get. We often hear about drivers painting the timing screens purple and it'd really enhance my viewing experience to see this for myself... nothing feels better than making some comment about a driver/situation and then hearing Martin Brundle say something very similar moments later! For a breif moment, I can feel like I know better than an F1 Ledgend

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm looking forward to seeing it! Roll on the weekend!

  • Comment number 13.

    Excellent, i've been wanting something like this for ages, so its good to see its finally available to use during a race and not just on a certain over hyped piece of tech!

    All we need now is HD and we're away!!

  • Comment number 14.

    @ Dandy

    Have a look at, click on the Live Timing tab at the top. Once you're registered / logged in you will see what the commentators are talking about :)

    And then get even more annoyed / elated (?) by the commentators when they don't notice something for 20 / 30 seconds or even minutes after you have! lol!

    Enjoy :)

  • Comment number 15.

    This is a brilliant feature and I really hope it can be continued for the rest of the season.

    Dandy - You need to go to and sign up for the live timing. It is instantaneous for every car through each of the 3 sectors.

  • Comment number 16.

    It is great to see this being introduced to Formula 1 coverage. I have been following NASCAR now for a number of years and they have been using a race tracker system. I think it is a great addition because as informative as the TV coverage is, there is only so much information that can be displayed at one time. So as a supplementary device, I would highly recommend this to any Formmula 1 fan. Bring on Silverstone!

  • Comment number 17.

    Yep this is a feature i've been wanting for a while now thanks for introducing it, i'll definitely use it and i hope it remains as a permanent feature.

  • Comment number 18.

    this is a brilliant idea, i enjoy the bbc coverage and hopefully i will try out this feature as it can provide additional information that i woudn't always get through the tv.

    it would also be great if the BBC can create an app for blackberry/ipod touch.

    and last thing is i would love to see f1 in HD, or what would make it even better is 3D, but no chance of seeing 3D soon, definately not before HD if it happens

  • Comment number 19.

    Great feature, the BBC coverage is excellent.

    One question: Can we have the race uploaded to iplayer sooner please? Often I can't watch the race but iplayer does not have it uploaded until 9.30pm or later! The suspense is miserable, not to mention the difficulty in avoiding the results!

  • Comment number 20.

    This really should be kept as a phone app/interweb service.

    As a fan I wouldn't want to flicking channels and miss some of the action as its bad enough looking at two screens at the same time - I sympathise with commentator these days.

  • Comment number 21.

    Fantastic idea, really glad I didn't get Bernie's £20 app now! Trouble is - I need a bigger laptop what with timing screen, on board camera, McLaren's Race functionality (videos and radio traffic). As everyone, the only other thing is HD and my cup will runneth over.......

  • Comment number 22.

    Brilliant i love it. Have the online streaming and the F1 official timing and it like you are a team principle

  • Comment number 23.

    I did go 'Yay' at first - but is it available for all sessions, or only the race?

  • Comment number 24.

    The reason we dont have HD is because current camera technology cant handle the stresses an F1 car delivers and bernie doesnt want to have part HD and part SD coverage, as it would look unprofessional. He and F1 technology partner LG has said it will happen in 2014. As a video editor I agree with their reason but beleive it will happen before 2014

  • Comment number 25.

    Fantastic to finally get this, i've been waiting for it a while. I already have the BBC driver video feed and FOMs live timing on my laptop with the race on the TV. Is this graphic streamed as video though? Would it not consume less bandwith if it was transmitted as data to a java applet instead? As I'll now be streaming 2 seperate feeds off your site and I'm sure a fair few others will too. Your servers may be able to handle it, but i'm not sure my laptop or connection will!

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent stuff! I love getting super involved with the data streams in a boring race, it makes it seem a bit more interesting..."ooo MSC dropped another .312s in that lap" etc. this makes the BBC coverage even better.

    As for getting it for an app, I thought this was a feature provided by FOM/FIA so I doubt they'll release it for the BBC to give a free app.

    As for HD, they did do some testing of HD camera's in Canada and tests were succesful however a majroity of the camera's were pit lane camera's and not trackside. I didn't think the BBC would be able to broadcast the British GP in HD, I know they are editors but they only control the content out to FOM who then distribute it out. That's where the BBC then pick up the picture to braodcast, so I doubt they would carry it in HD, they may put it on the HD channel but I can't see it actually being HD.

  • Comment number 27.

    The expense of having HD cameras covering the race would be too much. And difficult to catch such a fast moving sport with the best technology available at the moment. Thats the only reason FOM havent gone down the HD route.
    And for all you folks who are asking the BBC to "lean on Bernie".
    Bernie doesnt do anything He doesnt want to, simple as that, and its usually money based.

  • Comment number 28.

    Cool new feature Andrew. Anything new and innovative is welcome so thank you very much.

    Agree with #2. When watching the Grand National I have no idea what is happening because everything happens so fast. Would be very useful for that as well.

  • Comment number 29.

    Excellent addition, thanks very much

  • Comment number 30.

    Beeb F1 coverage is already very good and comprehensive. Can`t the money be better spent elsewhere rather than a new gizmo?

  • Comment number 31.

    Is the tracker going to be also featured on TV as well as, or inplace of, the 2 car graphic we sometimes see? I've wondered for some time why this feature has not been exported to the TV viewers as we occasionally catch a glimpse of it on the pitwall screens.

    The BBC might also consider employing the picture in picture feature used by other brodcasters to give a simultaneous close-up and contextual view of an incident/pass/etc.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is a great feature. Glad to see the BBC is always trying to improve there broadcasting of F1.

    I personally would like the F1 Forum to be shown on bbc3 or bbc4, so i can set it to record to watch later on. Mrs isn't happy with my hogging the TV for 3 hours at a go never mind 4 !!

  • Comment number 33.

    YAY!!!!!!! and we will also get to choose driver on boards like with the red button? please keep this feature for the rest of the season and beyond!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    Great feature! I'm dissapointed that I'm going to be watching the race on Sky+ so I'll have to wait until next time.

  • Comment number 35.

    A technical question:

    Will it be in sinc with the Live terrestrial tv pictures or will it be subject to the usual digital/internet delay of about 1-3 seconds?

  • Comment number 36.

    I've been waiting for to provide this for a few years but they never have so thank you BBC. The live timing from them has been brilliant though as it shows things that Legard and Brundle frequently miss. It's a great addition to their live timing when used in combination with it in regard to pit stops and traffic. However I can't imagine any other time when it would be useful as the live timing device already gives the gaps between drivers so there isn't a great need for a visual representation, that would be my only gripe with it, but otherwise I appreciate the increased amount of race data available.

    Thanks for the improved quality of online streaming, it's a great improvement on last year when I quite often encountered the buffering screen and the visual quality is excellent, it's been pretty flawless so far. It's on another level to the abysmal quality of the ITV online video as well so keep up the good work, theirs often makes it look like my computer screen is made of transparent lego.

  • Comment number 37.

    awesome about time that this was brought out being waiting for this for the past few years... hows the streaming going to be though, in timing with the live tv coverage?? Any how c'mon silverstone!!!

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh BBC, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

    Thanks so much! This info has been available on the pit wall for years, and I always felt gypped that Bernie never let us have it. Well done you! :D

  • Comment number 39.

    For everyone asking about F1 in HD it isn't happening until 2012. Have a read of this:

  • Comment number 40.


    If it's being broadcast as part of the video; it will be subject to the same time delay as the tv pictures.

    If it's being broadcast like the live timings from, then it will be live

  • Comment number 41.

    In response to the questions about HD, no, I'm afraid the British GP coverage will not be in HD. This was briefly - and incorrectly - promoted in various places on the BBC. We can only apologise for the confusion.

  • Comment number 42.

    The will improve the viewing experience of the grand prix no end. Coupled with live timing from and now this I'll need more computers to run everything on, as well watching the race on the tv.

    Can't wait to try this feature out.

  • Comment number 43.

    Shame i live in spain wont be able to see it (f1 tracker)

  • Comment number 44.

    Looking forward to using this feaure, it sounds like it'll give Formula 1 viewing at home another dimension.

    Will it be available during qualifying?

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi Andrew, I'm looking at the live module 2 for FP2 and I can't see the driver tracker anywhere. Can you show a graphic and a URL of where we can find it?

  • Comment number 46.

    Sorry, how do I access this? sounds great!

  • Comment number 47.

    I love you BBC. If this works well it will be amazing.

    Keep up the fab work.

  • Comment number 48.

    If you want to watch the Beeb on the Iplayer whilst abroad on holidays (I ll presume you are a tv license payer) there are other ways around the geo block.

    Look at proxies some are free but the better ones will require a (reasonable?) payment for their services.

  • Comment number 49.

    Fantastic feature, Thankyou. Another great item from the impeccible BBC coverage...............Hmmm impecible but for one thing......Jonothan Legard, at least we have the 5 live button to press, too bad its not linked to a commentary box ejector seat.

  • Comment number 50.

    There is a slight technical issue of applying this to non-car-based sports since it relies on GPS tracking data from each car to be sent to FOM. To apply it to - say - a sprint race would require each competitor to carry a receiver and transmitter as well as power sources for these.

    It's similar to suggesting that they could have on-board cameras in the grand national.

  • Comment number 51.

    It's a shame that it wont be there with the tv commentrary as i only have my PC and don't want to set it up in the living room. As for HD who cares certainly not me. I'm just glad that i like the people who do the commentrary and that there's no blooming adverts.

  • Comment number 52.

    I can't find where the new feature is? "The driver tracker will be added to our live video module - which we locate at the top of our live page on the website whenever there are cars on the track" - not seen it during FP1-3. Is it only for the race then?

  • Comment number 53.

    Haven't yet found this feature on the live stream, seems the Beeb are continuing their online policy of making things as hard to find as possible.

    On the subject of commentary, Legard may not be perfect, but compared to the crass cliches of David Croft, who can't even pronounce half of the drivers' names (just who are Sootle and Fettle anyway?) he's a commentating genius.

    HD please.

  • Comment number 54.

    Cars are on track...WHERE IS THIS FEATURE???

  • Comment number 55.

    Has anyone found this feature?

  • Comment number 56.

    no i cant find it anywhere all i can find is look a cool new feature and no links

  • Comment number 57.

    this would be a great feature...if i could find the damned thing.

  • Comment number 58.

    "The driver tracker will be added to our live video module - which we locate at the top of our live page on the website whenever there are cars on the track"

    I hope I'm not being stupid but I cant find this feature! I've now missed the first qualifying session trying to find this!

  • Comment number 59.

    Lovely SaraHoltF1 has tweeted "By the way, the BBC's driver tracker gizmo will only be available for the race on Sunday. More details here -"

  • Comment number 60.

    well that would have been nice to know it was only for sunday.very misleading is this page.

  • Comment number 61.

    Good find DCsTightShirts - I can concentrate on the tv now :)

  • Comment number 62.

    Is the driver tracker only running through the race or during qualifying too??? hope it works and it just go's to show the effort the BBC are putting in for us the viewers to enjoy the best of F1.

  • Comment number 63.

    Why on earth did McLaren introduce such major changes on a home weekend already laden with such high expectations? RB to kill off this GP.

  • Comment number 64.

    "We will be adding to the selection of video feeds available to UK users on the website a graphic showing the live location of all the cars on the track during the RACE"... so :)

  • Comment number 65.

    @no. 53 (Moose)

    To defend David Croft - 'Fettle' IS the correct pronunciation. 'V' in German is pronounced as we say 'f'. (So the car company should be pronounced Folksvagen, and the Beck's drink 'Vier' should be pronounced 'Fear'). As such, David Croft seems to be the ONLY commentator to actually pronounce Vettel's name correctly. Um... so there!

    However, Martin Brundle (and other English speakers) should be given a slap for saying 'sikth' instead of 'sixth'. It's annoying! It's easy to say 'sixth' - it's 'SIX' with 'TH' at the end! Easy.

    I dunno why we all feel we can come here and criticise the commentators though. How would YOU like it if they turned up at your place of work and slagged off the way that you do YOUR job...

  • Comment number 66.

    Regarding the tracker, the blog does say:

    We will be adding to the selection of video feeds available to UK users on the website a graphic showing the live location of all the cars on the track during the race.

  • Comment number 67.

    Hi all,

    Thanks for your positive responses to this idea. I see there has been some confusion, however, about when it is available.

    As post 66 points out, the original blog does say that it will be shown during the race. So, just to emphasise this, we are doing this for the race only, which is when it seems most relevant.

    A few of you have asked how you access it. It will be in the video module at the top of the live page on Sunday - it will be the first option under the main video, which is of the BBC One show.

    And finally, you will be able to hear the TV commentary on the website while you are looking at the driver tracker, should you only be watching on the web.

    I hope that has cleared things up.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hi Andrew

    I cant wait for this tommorow, but I could concider having it for quali to, so we can see where all cars are on track so ;

    A. We can see who has a gap and who doesn't, so we can see who might have got blocked earlier.
    B. So we can see what order the drivers are in for there final Q3 lap

  • Comment number 69.

    I'm sorry Andrew, but you didn't make it clear at all that this was just for Sunday. You could have made it much more obvious.

    People had to look really closely to see you meant it was for 'the race'. It would have made more sense to have made it clearer then you wouldn't have to deal with all these tweets and whatnot

  • Comment number 70.

    Any chance of a 'Legard mute' option?

  • Comment number 71.

    @ eff1 fan

    hahahaha...if only

  • Comment number 72.

    Ah! Don't be so mean @ Eff1! Having said that, commentary on the last few races have been a bit off! I mean, both commentators missed the Button move on Alonso and I saw that! How did they both miss it until ages later?!

    Anyway on the Tracker thing, hope it works out fine tomorrow. And no mess-ups! Like website going down because so many people are using it!

    Any win tomorrow except Vettel & Alonso please! Lewis make it a podium and you'll make us all happy in England (a win would be a miracle - but anything possible)! Button - well would be good if you make it into the top ten and with the top 4 as it is in qualifying, anything can happen!

  • Comment number 73.

    HD Formula 1 would be awesome. I wonder how long it'll be before we're watching F1 in 3D!

  • Comment number 74.

    Sounds great but its a shame as i would like to see this put on TV, like on the red button, and to watch the onborad car cam for one car without it changing every 2 mins..

    Maybe we see it on TV sometime.. Good job.

  • Comment number 75.

    Alonso to WIN !!!! :)

  • Comment number 76.

    This is great, but the BBC are really good at bragging about great features then hiding them. The amount of times the commentators just say got to the BBC f1 website to get 'Insert stunning content here' and I just can't find it. If your announcing new content then make it obvious where it is. not some vague statement 'in the video section at the top of the F1 live page', Andrew a link from this blog would of surely made some sense. To be honest I don't even know if is the page I should be looking on. So similar to the email us you regularly here from JH in the commentaries, who am I emailing where's the do I find the email addresses, they aren't on the webpage, Who do I tweet to thats' not there either.

    To me the BBC F1 content is disorganised and a mess.

    Anyway this weekend at my site you can view onboard from every car, all the live data that the teams are getting and all unfiltered radio transmissions. I won't link to it though you'll just have to go hunt for it.

  • Comment number 77.

    Andrew I'm sorry but you stated that

    "The driver tracker will be added to our live video module - which we locate at the top of our live page on the website whenever there are cars on the track".
    The fact that you state "it will be available for the race" is only a further confirmation of the above statement.
    I like many others spent a lot of time trying to locate the feature on the basis of your promise above.
    At least admit "the confusion" as you put it is a result of the information supplied to us and apologise - not inply we all got it wrong :)

  • Comment number 78.

    I would just like to take the opportunity to congratulate the BBC on their F1 coverage. It is far superior to ITV and of course the best part is, NO ADVERT BREAKS! Please BBC, don't ever let any other TV company take it away from you.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ Tom

    There is an app for the ipad that does this, you can zoom in on different sections of the track as well. Had a go with it in Currys the other day.

  • Comment number 80.

    How do you access this feature please?

    I'm currently in this page

    and cannot find any option that allows me to acces the driver tracker

  • Comment number 81.

    Fluffy ninja it's on the link that you've given, on the video itself.

  • Comment number 82.

    OK just seen the comments above.
    P-poor communication of when the feature is available
    Stating "during the race" then following it up with "whenever cars are on the track" is just asking for problems

  • Comment number 83.

    Very true Fluffyninja. Don't know why they are making it so difficult!
    Still, glad I found it before the start of the race!

  • Comment number 84.

    This is going to be useful so you can see where everyone is on the track.

  • Comment number 85.

    To all,

    The driver tracker is in the live page now, in the middle of the carousel below the main picture:

    It is also now linked out of the blog.

    To those of you saying we should have provided a link to it before, that was not possible as the page didn't exist until Sunday.

    I hope you enjoy it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Cheers Andrew.

  • Comment number 87.

    Why is the video quality of the Silverstone GP so awful. On 55 inch its the most pixelated I've seen ! Come on BBC its not just the F1 cameras, why so ultra low def ?

  • Comment number 88.

    Can someone send a link where we will find this?

  • Comment number 89.

    how can i use the 'Tracker' not getting anything on the laptop ?

  • Comment number 90.

    Tracker is Brill.johnathon ledger, sorry can't warm to him as a commentator. Martin B FANTASTIC. DOR.x

  • Comment number 91.


  • Comment number 92.

    Brilliant - dont feel so bad not being at Silvertone . . .

  • Comment number 93.

    This is a great new addition! However what would be great is to add which sector is in yellow when there are yellow flags on the track

  • Comment number 94.

    Works well it seems. A suggestion, as well as the driver name maybe you could tag his icon with the current race position? Once drivers start to lap this would help. Otherwise good job!

  • Comment number 95.

    Great stuff! Like other people are saying the above additions would be great as well!

  • Comment number 96.

    Very very useful feature and really adds to the tv coverage. Really interesting to see how Button was making time on the guys ahead of him once people started pitting

    Just a shame I spent so much of qualifying trying to work out how to turn it on due to the original article

  • Comment number 97.

    This tracker system is fantastic, a great addition, keep it up. Great.

  • Comment number 98.

    Was a good addition, although i think it would be good to show the yellow flag sections, as well as having the position numbers next to the drivers name. Could also be cool to have the safety car location when its picking up the leader's.

    Would want the bbc to put pressure to get the F1 to get the races shown in HD

  • Comment number 99.

    I really enjoyed the race tracker as it gave another dynamic to the bbc's excellent coverage. I hope it will be here to stay for the long term?.

  • Comment number 100.

    Top feature, please repeat at every race if possible. Thanks.


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