Formula 1 is introducing some new car performance graphics this year and it's definitely going to go really well
At the end of last year, F1 introduced some tyre performance graphics in partnership with Amazon Web Services. The idea was that the graphic would show the comparative tyre life between cars to try and show which one has the advantage.
The only problem was that it was confusing and the numbers looked like they’d been made up on the spot. Apparently the numbers are based on real data, but Pirelli came out and said it it was inaccurate and misleading. All-in-all, it was kinda awful and we were hoping this sort of thing will have quietly disappeared over the off season.
Sadly not. It seems that F1 and AWS have instead come up with some more graphics which will attempt to provide viewers with more information.
These will be rolled out across the season. There’ll be an ‘Ultimate Driver Speed’ graphic which compares drivers from across eras, a graphic which compares performance in high- and low-speed corners, one which shows how well a team has developed its car, one which predicts qualifying and race pace, and
* a ‘Driver Skills Rating’ graphic… because we’ve all seen how well that sort of thing works out.
Obviously, we can’t judge these until we’ve seen them in action, and F1 has to be commended for attempting to demystify certain aspects of the sport. But if the tyre performance graphic is anything to go by, then forgive us for not being too optimistic. You can’t rate the skills of a driver using data, and there are far too many variables to try and show whether a car has inherently more understeer than another one.
And even if they do work well, you have to ask - how many graphics is too many? Screens cluttered with information can be confusing and distracting - not to mention they have a habit of removing some of the uncertainty of live sport. How are you meant to be excited by a surprise overtake or unexpected pit strategy if, for the last 10 laps, a load of data has been popping up on the screen telling you it’s going to happen?
Hopefully, it’s not too bad and doesn’t just come across as a transparent marketing exercise for AWS. At the very least, it’s going to give us something to talk about…