In mid-2014, I submitted an entry to the 1st part of the F1 Connectivity Innovation Challenge, launched by Tata to allow fans to submit their ideas on how various aspects of Formula One coverage and fan interaction could be improved. The brief of the challenge that I entered was to improve on the timing pages produced by Formula One Management, using the already existing data that is produced to populate those pages. We were given a sample set of data to work with when demonstrating our entries.
The overall gist of my proposal was that the timing screens would remain similar to how they are now, yet spruced up with F1’s TV graphics to make them a bit more exciting to look at. They could also be interactive (e.g. on a tablet, the user presses one of the lozenges such as Fernando Alonso’s pit count, which brings up a history of all his current pitstops in that session, along the side). or non-interactive, in the form of being sent to a TV screen. The 3rd screenshot shows an example of a user having interacted with the timing screen.
Provided here are the screenshots I generated to illustrate my proposal, along with the full text I submitted to the website:
The solution that I have developed makes use of the slanted graphical “Lozenges” that are currently used across Formula One’s World Feed, Driver Tracker and Pit-lane Channel. The use of these “Lozenges” has many advantages over the current text-only format of the timing screens:
1. It will be familiar to viewers of the World Feed and other channels, tying these and the Timing Screens together in terms of a visual identity, as well as making the timing screens more visually interesting to look at than plain text.
2. When organised into columns and rows (compared with the current Timing Screens which did not have visible borders separating the columns and rows), I feel that it allows the eye to easily track either vertically or horizontally across the data, which will make it quicker for the user to follow a particular driver (going horizontally), or see the overall time difference in a particular value (such as the Sector 1 time) across the entire field (going vertically).
3. Unlike the current system whereby the colour of the text changes depending on the type of message received (Faster Time, Slower Time, Fastest Time etc.), in my solution the colour of the Lozenge changes, (again similar to how the World Feed graphics use colour to display changes in time and position). This makes the change more apparent and obvious to the viewer.
Technically, my solution could be made available as a video feed which could be provided to commentators and teams at the track as well as any broadcasters who currently carry the existing timing channel. This would be generated in the same manner that the Pit-lane Channel and World Feed graphics use when displaying appropriate timing data on their own channels.
By providing the timing screens as a web application, it allows for users to interact with and manipulate the timing screens, via the use of a mouse or via touch-screen. For example, clicking on a column header could order the timing table via that particular column i.e. by clicking or pressing the S1 header, it would order the rows on the timing screen so that the Sector 1 times were displayed in either ascending or descending order, alternating between the two when the user presses the column header again. Long-pressing or double-clicking on that header would return the table to the standard position order.
Whenever a driver has entered the pits, this is now shown via a “P” symbol at the end of his row, similar to how the world feed shows this feature during practice and qualifying along the tower on the top-left of the screen. Additionally, on the existing system whereby the colour of the Driver’s name would change to Yellow until they have crossed the timing beam during a race, I have changed this in my proposed solution to the Driver’s position lozenge, as I feel this looks better.
During Qualifying, if a driver has been knocked-out at the end of Q3 or Q2, his position indicator switches to Red Text on a White Background, as is also shown on the World Feed.
The track status (from the ‘sessionstate’ and ‘trackstatus’ XML values) is shown along the bottom of the timing screen, in an appropriately coloured lozenge (Green, Yellow, Red, and Chequered) with a description of the Status inside the lozenge.
Finally, fastest sector & information has now been moved to the right-hand-side of the screen, and also shows a cumulative lap-time from the fastest sectors up to that point (generated by adding the fastest sector times together). The overall fastest lap is now displayed across the bottom.
Weather information (previously available only on Page 3 of the existing system is now also displayed along the top-left hand side of my solution, below which I have also incorporated the Cars On Track/In Pits/Stopped information (previously only shown on Page 2). This is displayed during Practice and Qualifying only.
The first two images supplied (generated from the sample data provided, using mock-ups created by myself based on the current Formula One World Feed Graphics) show a Free Practice Session and a Qualifying Session in progress, in the “static” form that could be implemented as a video/TV feed, without any user interactivity. The third screenshot shows the race in progress, in a “dynamic/interactive” form as viewed via a web-page or mobile/tablet device, showing that the user has pressed/clicked on the Lozenge showing Kobayashi’s Sector 2 time, which reveals his last 10 Sector 2 times to the left. The user has also pressed/clicked on Alonso’s Pit Count, which reveals all of Alonso’s pit-stops, and the times that each pit-stop took. All this historical information is included within the XML data for the session, so the application would simply need to search back through the data until it finds the values required to display.
Overall, my solution offers a vastly improved timing screen, which presents the timing information in a manner that is both visually informative and easy-to-read, which will benefit both commentators and viewers, and can be delivered in a manner that can be presented not only statically as part of a television feed, but also dynamically across the web, which will enable the user to interact with it to view additional & historical data across a session.
In hindsight, I feel my proposal was rather ‘safe’ compared to the frankly astounding depth of originality & innovation produced by the winning entries to that particular part of the competition. I don’t have any formal experience in design or presentation and I feel that may have come through in my proposal, although I do feel that my idea is sound.