Formula 1 responds to recent broadcast complaints
Formula 1 has responded to recent complaints about its coverage, particularly the use of replays and when they're shown.
Viewers took to social media during the Italian Grand Prix to criticise the decision to show numerous replays of the start, which meant other on-track action was missed.
F1's director of broadcast and media Dean Locke explained that the Monza layout makes it difficult to decide who to follow, especially when drivers are out of position, like Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who started at the back of the grid.
"Monza is tricky because of the first chicane," he said. "On the first lap the field comes to that chicane very quickly. This year we had a really good battle at the front involving three or four cars. Conversely, at the back of the field you also had a very quick guy, Max Verstappen, and you have to make the choice of where to go.
"We were aware that there were some things happening at the back and we knew people were going through the chicane. But if you’ve got two cars side by side at the front, you have to stick with that."
Locke explained that deciding when to show replays in a sport that has no breaks is always a difficult decision, and whilst some fans have suggested using split-screen or picture-in-picture, Locke said it's a solution they've "shyed away from".
"In terms of replays what makes Formula 1 a challenge is we don’t have natural breaks. We’re not like tennis, or cricket in that respect. Therefore we’ve got to feed in replays while live action is happening, unless we get a Safety Car.
"If you ask any sports director what is the hardest part of broadcasting live sports, they will say replays. And that’s compounded when you don’t have natural pauses. You’re looking for an advantageous lull – and in Monza, with a lot happening at the front in the first few laps that was difficult."
He added: "We have the mechanism to do that [picture-in-picture] but we tend to shy away from it because the we have a wealth of information already on screen and a lot of graphics and adding to that makes things very complicated. It's also difficult for commentators."
This weekend F1 heads to Singapore, which presents further broadcasting challenges according to Locke.
"There are 23 corners at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and we have to cover those with 26 trackside cameras. There are no real run-off areas apart from in turn one and turn two, so the cameras are on top of the cars, shooting through very small fence windows. There are a limited number of angles they can shoot from and if they are pointing the wrong way, they might miss something.
"On top of that we have to really convey what the city is like, this amazing skyline and these fantastic buildings. Each track and each race is unique. And we’ve got to highlight that uniqueness to fans – the tifosi at Monza, the fireworks in Singapore, the Foro Sol in Mexico and so on. We have to reflect that as much as possible.
"Singapore is a tricky one, but to be honest, broadcasting a motor race at any circuit is a tremendous challenge. Televising a grand prix is very different to other sports."