When Formula 1 TV footage (and not only) becomes works of art

The international trend of Formula 1 is always looking for new angles and new shots to offer innovative views and new ways to see cars on the track.. This year saw the return of the pedal cam (a small camera mounted behind the pedals) after two decades of recent experience, while The Dutch GP saw the opportunity to try something different to give a better idea of ​​how steep the curved corners really were.

The footage was shown briefly on TV on Saturday and Sunday only ZandvoortAnd only at Ferrari Carlos Sainz. but, The first landing in Formula 1 for a gyroscopic stabilization camera was judged a success as the view tilted as the Spaniard rode the lanes of the Dutch circuit.

The person responsible for the images we see transmitted by cars is Steve Smith, who has been doing this work for more than three decades. “Stefano Domenicali and Ross Brawn are eager to bring innovation and new things to show that we don’t stand still and move forward.Smith says.And so this year we introduced the pedal cam. Ultimately, we want the 360-degree camera to be able to stream live from the car. It is currently a self-contained unit that records the real unit so we download the footage later and then use it for social media. Our ultimate hope is that this can be seen on TV, combined with your iPad or your phone for a 360-degree camera view.”

Shot shown on Zandvoort from Sainz’s car

How did the idea of ​​introducing a new tire to Formula 1 come about?

F1 is always open for fan feedback, but it’s not easy to please everyone. “Sometimes it happens that people see something and ask why it isn’t done in F1? “, Smith says. For example, Martin Brandel shot a report about Sky in a Ferrari at Fiorano two years ago. He hit the track with the car and they actually filled it up with a GoPro. He did two turns, with three or four different shots. They took him inside, installed cameras on another part of the car, and made two more turns. Then he went in, they removed all the cameras, walked two more cycles and installed everything so he couldn’t see any cameras during the full video. But it’s 10 different shots. This is also the reason why certain footage we see in promotional videos cannot be repeated during a real race.

The obvious inspiration for the gyroscopic camera tested in Formula 1 at Zandvoort was MotoGP. Those who follow the World Championships will surely notice that when the bikes are framed from the rear or the front, the bike tilts up to 60 degrees but the TV shot remains straight. The gyro camera is the same as the one used on the MotoGP, and in fact it was purchased by the regulator Dorna. As always with such innovations, the next task was to install them in a car.

We try to do it secretly so as not to bother the teamsSmith says.If you go to a team and say you’d like to try new cameras, the first thing they ask is “How much do you weigh? Is there an air penalty? Do our main competitors use it? And if you say no, they say, ‘Well, we won’t either”‘ “.

A gyro camera mounted on the front of Carlos Sainz's car
The front-mounted gyro camera in Carlos Sainz’s car – Image credits: Adam Cooper

However, we have the ability to stream two cameras, so we can send two signals at the same time. We don’t do that much now, but we made a dual stream pedal cam“. The new gyroscopic camera fits into the usual chamber on the nose and there is no weight penalty. So Ferrari agreed to install it in Sainz’s car in Zandvoort. After some testing on Friday, the camera also held on Saturday’s broadcast and during the race for a while.

If they couldn’t try it at Zandvoort, it would be a shame, because Monza’s circle, for example, is quite flat, like most circles on the calendar. Enthusiasts were also excited about the gyroscope camera. Now the question is where can a gyroscopic camera be useful? It was briefly tested in free practice at Monza on top of a Lando Norris McLaren, with a general idea of ​​seeing how it would react on hurdles etc, but the footage was not broadcast.

Wavy trails such as Suzuka and Austin could also be interesting options, but there are currently no firm plans. Meanwhile, Formula 1 continues to innovate. For Austin, you can expect to see a circular view with a shot of the pedal superimposed on the front of the frame as an X-ray, showing the rider’s feet. Obviously, compared to the old Formula 1 with a manual gearbox, the pedal-oriented cam is less attractive: No heel, you don’t take your foot off the throttle on a straight line to change gear and the like. However, these are ways to try new things: In Indycar, for example, the camera installed on the Airscope can rotate and photograph other nearby cars as well after their movements.