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Fans to get access to more data in '09

FOTA graphicFormula 1 fans watching on television will get access to more data than ever before this season, autosport.com has learned, with the sport's broadcasters accepting proposals put forward by teams to enhance the show.

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) announced earlier this month that it wanted the sport's broadcasters, Formula One Management (FOM), to make use of extra graphics and more information than it was offering.

This included fuel strategy graphics, racing line details, pit stop predictors and total access to the teams' radio channels.

When asked by autosport.com on Tuesday if FOM was going to take up the teams' offer, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that he would embrace the opportunity.

"Absolutely," said Ecclestone. "We've been a bit strung up with our graphics because although we had the information (before), we couldn't use it. It was the same with the 'ship-to-shore' radio. It was interesting for viewers but the teams said we can't use it.

"It was complete nonsense. We are in the entertainment business and these teams forget that. I think they are waking up now."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who heads up the sporting group within FOTA, believes that fans will be the biggest winners from the new information - especially total access to radio transmissions.

"How many teams over the years have spent lots of money with encrypted radio systems to prevent that? That was a big, big initiative," he said at the recent FOTA launch in Geneva.

"There are lots of little one-liners, and I think in a year's time we'll take them for granted. I think in a year's time we won't have perhaps recognised the significance of some of the proposals that have come from FOTA.

"But I do think that the sport and the ability for fans to become involved, to buy into it, to understand it, and to enjoy it, will be greater."

He added: "I think anyone who's responsible for the commercial development of the sport has got to be ecstatic about the teams cooperating more fully with how we develop those things."

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