Giovanni Tomasello, one of the winners of our second challenge in this year’s F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize, explains how data can give teams the competitive edge, and documents how three professionals in software development set about enhancing the experience for F1 fans.
I have been a fan of Formula 1 for as long as I can remember, perhaps even before I could walk. My interest in the sport dates back to the late 1970s, watching the likes of Niki Lauda, James Hunt and Mario Andretti battle it out on and off the track. The sport itself has changed a lot since then, but my interest remains. Some of the fantastic cars, tracks and races are still very vivid in my memory; the familiarity of the smell of burning fuel and loud engines is a comfort that has been passed down from my father. But what really strikes me about F1 is the incredible engineering that allows the cars to reach the speeds that they do, the work that goes on behind the scenes.
As an F1 fan, I immediately recognise the value of an engagement tool to predict outcomes in the Grand Prix races. After initially stumbling upon the challenge on LinkedIn, I did some research and called a meeting with two of my friends and colleagues, Anthony and Andrew, that I knew would be as excited about it as I was. We jumped straight into brainstorming sessions and workshops to build on the concepts we had dreamt up. As we all have degrees in topics such as computer science, economics and games technology, we’re all programmed in a way that gives us a drive to innovate and are passionate about technology. From a personal perspective, we’re also all interested in F1, which really helped when we got to work on the challenge.
We knew it was important that throughout the numerous sessions and discussions, we held on to our original vision. We had plotted out all of the feasible opportunities where fans could predict race outcomes in F1, which provided a good basis to kick-start the project. The sessions were strenuous and intense, but our passion for the project was clear and this gave us great momentum. We concluded that it should be a mobile application that everyone can download and engage in while watching a Grand Prix, to entrench existing fans even further and attract new fans. Ultimately, we believe our solution could transform the fan experience to be more engaging, interactive and exciting.
With over 20 years of combined custom software experience within our team, we undertook a similar process to the challenge as we would with clients. Our thoughts eventually arrived at this: an online platform that allows fans to become closer to the action and offers the chance to predict some of the greatest and defining moments in motorsports. Imagine a sport where as a fan, you can experience the split second decision making, the adrenaline and the competitiveness that is unleashed. That is what we want to make a reality with the Prixdictor App.
The app itself will allow users to view large datasets in a clear and understandable way; they will be able to view weather during practice, practice timings, current standings and track history for drivers. By providing streams of information in a digestible way, they’ll be able to make informed and strategic decisions. Along with the technical elements of the app, we knew we wanted it to be really visual, to act as a visual representation of the data so that fans could predict events during a race and be scored according to their accuracy. It’s a way for fans to become immersed into the competition and get even closer to the sport that they’ve always been spectators of. Take this season as an example, fans could have predicted Vettel so far winning three GPs with Ferrari, Hamilton undercutting Massa to win the British GP, and the tough season that Red Bull racing and McLaren have had so far.
Underneath it all, we want to make the complex simple. We set out to come up with an idea that enhanced the fan experience, and we knew to do this we had to take into account the world that we live in today, where we’re surrounded by data and technology changes at a rapid pace. Simplicity was paramount, and lies at the heart of our thinking and the resulting design.
It could be said that F1 is the most innovative sport on the planet (although we may be slightly biased as we are fans of the sport!). But what isn’t subject to discussion is the importance of technology in sports in general. Technology is becoming a major part of how teams get the edge over their competition, and without investment and a focus on innovation, teams will fall behind. The role of big data and predictive analytics is going to become increasingly important in sports and in F1, and that makes this challenge even more exciting for us. As Formula 1 fans we are also data consumers, and we hope and believe that data holds the potential to change the way that fans understand, interact and engage with Formula One in the future.
Follow Giovanni and the team on Twitter. Find out more about the other winners.
Tata Communications was the Official Connectivity Provider of Formula 1® between 2012 and 2019. Tata Communications was also the Official Managed Connectivity Supplier to Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, and Official Digital Transformation Partner to ROKiT Williams Racing until the end of the 2019 season.