One of the most shocking admissions coming out of the FIA following Jules Bianchi’s tragic crash at Suzuka in 2014, was that for a while, the race director Charlie Whiting no visibility of the recovery vehicle. Neither the FOM TV camera’s or the circuit CCTV were covering that portion of the circuit.
At the 2015 Austrian GP, it became apparent that what may have been vital information was again not recorded.
On the first lap there was a coming together between Fernando Alonso and Kimi, which that saw the Spaniard’s car mount the front of the Ferrari and the two machines locked together then continued for scrape along the barrier until all the momentum was dissipated.
FOM TV’s director scrabbled for several minutes to find footage of the incident, though eventually realised there was nothing definitive that explained how the coming together was initiated.
Commentators around the world debated whether Kimi had lost the rear of the car or conversely whether Fernando or someone else had tagged him.
All the cars are fitted with FOM TV cameras that broadcast onboard footage during the race. However, for a technical reason that is rooted in a simple lack of resource, not all cars onboard cameras can be set to record during a Formula One race.
Alonso’s car was not selected to be part of the broadcast at this year’s Austrian GP.
The Tilke neutered Red Bull Ring these days is not spread across a vast terrain and to that end, less trackside TV camera’s were required than for somewhere like The Marina Bay circuit in Singapore.
For live and pre-recorded feature games in the English Football Premier League, Sky install 24 camera’s for their broadcast. A football pitch must be between 45-90 metres wide and between 90-120 metres long.
FOM TV is owned and run by the commercial rights holder, though for purposes of safety and the race steward’s deliberations, this footage forms part of the FIA’s information supply.
Clearly a bank of screens with live TV footage from the 20 cars and 30-50 other cameras recording aspects of the race and associated action would be too confusing for the already much maligned FOM TV director. However, there is no excuse for not recording pictures from both cars and camera’s which are ‘offline’, to improve post race stewards deliberations or that are critical to safety management.