High Tech Spectating

It’s Sunday morning as I start to prepare this entry.  One of my obsessions is Formula 1 racing and this week, we’re in Italy at Monza. The race at Monza is one of my favourites to watch although it’s not a track that I think would be spectator friendly.  The track is outrageously fast with a couple of chicanes thrown in gratuitously, it seems, to slow the cars down.  The track is also located in a forest which would make watching anything but what’s right in front of you pretty difficult. On the other hand, the mob of fans at the base of the podium during the award ceremony must really be something to see.

What fascinates me about Formula 1 racing is the amount of technology and innovation that goes into the design of the cars and the driving development of the drivers.  I can’t get enough of this stuff.  I know that it drives my family nuts that I watch practice on Friday, qualifying on Saturday, and the race itself on Sunday.  Thankfully, given that most of the races are in Europe, it’s an early morning watch in Canada.  But, I have my routine – and it’s faily high tech itself.

First, I find the track on Google Earth.  At times, this can be a challenge since many of the tracks are quite a distance from where you might think them to be.  However, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza is very easy to spot once you find the community of Monza.

Just as if I go to a baseball or football game, I like to get there early and walk around to see what I can see.  Streetview is perfect for that purpose.

Sadly, Streetview doesn’t show things from a driver’s perspective ON the track itself.  I think that many race fans would enjoy a Streetview tour of the track.  It must be amazing to take Curva Parabolica and see everything there.  Streetview would definitely be safer than in the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 car.

But, the stars of the show are the cars and the drivers.  I also find that the highlight of any event is actually the Saturday qualifying.  Here, all of the technology is tweaked and put into place to get the absolute most from the car lest you not qualify.  The three rounds with eliminations make every moment on the track count.  Unlike oval racing where you can see all of the cars at time on a television screen, it’s more of a challenge on these tracks.  But, there’s an app for that!

The folks at Formula 1 have wonderful applications that let you see everything that you could possibly want to know about the track, the cars, and the drivers from the comfort of your living room.  If there’s any question that we live in a data driven world, look at what data is available instantly.  These screen shots are from the iPod Touch application.

Races and Race times – best at each sector

High tech cars are sensitive to the elements.  Wind, rain, temperature, track temperature…

And, of course the race itself. Track each driver even if they’re not on the screen!  Just look at Alonzo leaping from fourth to first at the start of the race.

and so much more.

Isn’t it amazing what we can do with the technology at hand and a desire to get the most from it all?  (and being a little more than obsessive)

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