Sneak peek: Ross Brawn’s plan to destroy F1 as we know it

Yesterday at the AWS conference, FOM technical boss Ross Brawn from Liberty Media gave away some insight in how Liberty will change the way we are presented a Formula 1 race.

AWS, a sponsor of the series, is a subsidiary of that provides on-demand cloud computing. In recent times, the company has been developing machine learning, also known as AI (artificial intelligence), and it appears that Liberty will soon be using that technology in their race broadcasts. Even as soon as next year.


See a sneak preview of what to expect in 2019

Click to enlarge


In the presentation, Brawn shows examples of how the technology will alter the way we consume the race, live. Gimmicks such as ‘overtaking probability’ and ‘driver performance’ data will be thrown up on the screen during any moment deemed necessary.

The computer will calculate probabilities and inform the viewer of what might happen next on the track.

Of course, on paper this seems a fantastic plan. Give more insight into what’s actually going, but instead of relying on the traditional means to do so; the commentator – the cloud based AI will provide it’s understanding of the race unfolding, fuelled by live telemetry along with historical stored data. 

Again sounds great, right?

Well, perhaps not. It could be argued that Ross Brawn is looking into entertaining fans in a rather overly engineering fashion? F1 is a very technical sport, but does having such gimmicks enhance the race for F1 fans, or is this catering for the digital generation, who might swan in and out of a race or indeed an entire season?

Maybe the fact that Liberty are keen to increase the revenue partnership with Amazon’s AWS means that such developments are inevitable. Liberty as a company must increase revenue after all, think of the promises to their share holders.

I would argue that rather than rely on complex machine learning as a means to enhance racing on screen, the cars themselves need to be changed to make on-track action the spotlight and not a gimmicky overlay. Further, the teams themselves need to take some responsibility for the entertainment side, and accept some fundamental changes to the way the sport is run.

Why not make the in-depth live timing free to all, showing sector times. Once fans understand that then suddenly races are transformed, just ask any die hard F1 fan.

That said, it might be argued that these gimmicks are necessary to appeal to newer watchers of the sport, and in particular the younger generation who are used to data rich entertainment (is there such a thing??).

Let us know your opinion on this by leaving a comment below.


The full presentation by Brawn is the video player:

7 responses to “Sneak peek: Ross Brawn’s plan to destroy F1 as we know it

  1. Well as die hard fans we know all drivers and their history but a first time watcher not. Even knowing what happened in Brazil I liked the flash back during Abu Dhabi.
    Also fun to see what an AI makes from ‘overtaking chances’ between bottas and Hamilton 😬

  2. Blah blah blah, waffle waffle waffle……………The way to make F1 racing honest and exciting again is to equalise all the power units!!!! While 1 team has a clear 1 second a lap advantage over the rest of the field then only 1 of 2 drivers can win the drivers title! Power unit parity for all first!

    • absolutely correct answer. And one cannot help but sense that Liberty are toothless and ineffective addressing the real issues F1 has. This is yet more ‘fluff’

      • I agree 100% with the toothless and ineffective part re Liberty and FIA, and am concerned that F1 may not even complete a full 2021 season

  3. Already felt really annoyed by the halo-brake/acc-overlay this year; it takes away the focus of the physical universe. I really do not need a real-time ‘analytics’ as additional input, that really takes the post-race analysis after-party out of it. Please allow an opt-out option and improve the visual coverage instead.

  4. One very ‘simple’way to increase the no of F1 fans and to enhance their enjoyment of the race would be to actually allow them to see it. With more races leaving free to view TV and F1 TV not being available to countries which have Sky TV the number of viewers has plummeted. If Liberty are going to invest truck loads of money into enhancing the fan experience this could be a ressonable place to start. Cut a deal with sky to enable viewers to see live races without subscribing to Sky. Those people who have Sky will keep it those without Sky either don’t want it or can’t/won’t afford it will at least be able to view F1 for a fraction of the cost of Sky subscription.

    • Back in 2016 when the contract was negotiated, Sky were bid up by BT and ended up paying £200m a year for the new contract – the current contract is around £40m/yr. For the extra £160m they got exclusive live coverage (bar the Brit GP) but have to provide FTA highlights.

      If anyone wants to break the contract they must expect Sky to get very nasty. And who will stump up £1bn + any punitive damages?

      Liberty (who, don’t forget, own VirginMedia) know the score and don’t like it, but they also know they can do very little about it. Remember also where Chase Carey came from… he was tipped by Murdoch as his successor as CEO of News Corp – the owners of Sky.

      I think you can write off live FTA races in the UK for 5 years.

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