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F1 admits need to be ‘careful’ over heart rate TV graphics plan

Formula 1 says it will need to be ‘careful’ in how it treats the live broadcasting of drivers’ heart rates if plans to display biometric data get the green light.

THe drivers practice their start procedures at the end of FP1

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

As part of a trial that started at the Austrian Grand Prix, F1 has begun experimenting with displaying the heart rates of two drivers at each F2 event.

The data is utilised in a new TV graphic, indicating Intensity Level, which is broadcast on the race feed.

It is understood that the F2 experiments are being used to see if the technology is ready and can be adapted for use in F1.

However, beyond the technical aspects of the heart rate monitoring, F1 has acknowledged that there may be issues with drivers not wanting their own data to be broadcast in public.

As well as it being a personal matter, drivers could even feel that rivals may get an advantage if broadcasts show that their heart rate is at an elevated level.

Justin Laurie, technical producer at F1, told Autosport/Motorsport.com that there were some specific sensitivities that would need to be ironed out before it could be used.

“Obviously there’s an element where you have to be editorially careful with how you present that data,” he said. “It has to be presented in the right way and tell the story.

“Every driver is different, and everybody is physically different, so we have to take all of that into account when we’re making these decisions about how we are going to use this data going forward. But fundamentally it’s a new area for us and it’s an exciting area. That’s the main thing.”

Laurie said that, with teams seeking advantage in anything they can find, analysing a rival’s heart rate data could be used to help encourage a team’s own driver to push them even harder.

The Medical Car at the back of the grid for the start

The Medical Car at the back of the grid for the start

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“I suppose there is always the potential that that might be the case,” added Laurie. “I know that the teams watch the screens and watch what’s going on. Everything has an advantage, I suppose, so every bit of information for a team is useful.

“We’ll have to play in the right way. Hopefully, editorially, we’ll find that right approach and that right balance. But I think the main thing is to give the audience a new insight into how a driver is feeling. We’ll see where that takes us moving forward, especially for F1.

“What you see on the F2 package might not be what we actually produce for F1. We’re still developing the technology and developing the data. Hopefully this new piece of information is just going to create more engagement and excitement for the moments on track.”

F2 championship leader Frederik Vesti, who was one of the drivers picked to use the technology in Austria, said it had been interesting for him to see how the data was used.

“I just watched 10 seconds of the race where I saw my heart rate going up while I was doing an overtake,” he said after the Austria race. “I think it's a pretty cool thing.

“I think there is a little bit more development to do on how it feels when you have it on, but I think it's a really good starting point.

“I think it's a good addition to be honest, for the fans. They can see what sort of pressure we're under. It's not only physical pressure, it's also mental. And I think it shows it pretty well.”

Laurie said F1 had been encouraged by the first responses to the new graphic, with experiments to continue for the remainder of the campaign.

Frederik Vesti, PREMA Racing

Frederik Vesti, PREMA Racing

Photo by: Formula Motorsport Ltd

“I think everyone was very positive about that,” he said. “Internally it was a lot of work to achieve that result. We tried it on two drivers [Vesti and Theo Pourchaire].

“We’re looking to grow that in F2 a little bit if we can, and then build towards F1. Hopefully it will give us good momentum to deploy it for the F1 drivers going forward. Ultimately that’s our goal.”

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