On Thursday, October 18, 2018, the Formula 1 Managing Director of Motorsport, Ross Brawn, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Driver, Lewis Hamilton, and CEO & MD of Tata Communication, Vinod Kumar made an exclusive announcement of the winner of the F1 Innovation Prize. The F1 Innovation Prize is a joint initiative by Tata Communications, Formula 1 and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. The motivation of the F1 Innovation Prize is to drive innovation and technological acceleration as a commitment to the fans because the fans come first. There are a new generation of fans and making a new trend to engage them in the sport of F1 with technology is fascinating.
The winner announced was James Gough who will contribute to shaping the experience of Formula 1 fans. He was awarded the USD $50,000 prize at the Circuit of the Americas, Formula 1 Paddock Club. James Gough, a lifelong F1 fan from the UK developed his entry around the ‘My F1’ themed challenge using the sport’s unique set of human, mechanical and technical data to create the ultimate customized viewing experience for fans worldwide. Formula 1 has different drivers and different stories happening with each team that sometimes could be difficult for a fan to catch up in one broadcast, but with the new technology, the fans would be able to follow the story or the stories they are interested in. James Gough’s innovative idea will be incubated with the intent to prototype at Formula 1 ’s Media & Technology Centre.
James stood out from the competition with his Virtual Smart Assistant idea in front of a panel of judges. The app, which functions as a fan’s personal F1 guide, provides instant access to insights on each team, driver, car, practice session, qualifying or race on-demand. It offers the fans a new insight and access to be able to become an expert. The fans will be able to use the proposed app with existing smart assistants including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It is also equipped with artificial intelligence capabilities. In consequence, the more a fan uses the Virtual Smart Assistant, the more it learns about their preferences, customizing the information it offers accordingly.
This year’s winning idea will be incubated with the intent to prototype it at Formula 1’s Media & Technology Centre in the UK. During the incubation, James will work closely with Formula 1 engineers to develop his idea, which as the ultimate demonstration of fan engagement has the potential to shape the future of the sport. The new technology will bring the fans getting involved and closer to the sport with the app with all the data they want.
“We want to break down the barriers of language and technical know-how so that more people around the world are able to immerse themselves in the greatest sporting spectacle on earth,” said Ross Brawn, Formula 1. “Through new features like the Halo graphics and live events like our F1 Festival series, we’re continually looking for ways to bring more fans closer to the sport. That’s exactly what James’ winning idea seeks to do too in a truly innovative way. I look forward to seeing his concept come to life in our Media & Technology Centre.”
“This is such an exciting time for the sport, with more and more ways for people around the world to get close to the world of F1 through social media, online, and of course the F1® Innovation Prize,” said Lewis Hamilton.“There’s so much happening at any given second during a race. James’ idea was my favorite because it lets both die-hard fans and those who might be new to the sport make sense of it all and really immerse themselves in the action.”
“I’ve been a huge fan of F1 since I was a teenager, but never in a million years did I think that one day I’d get the chance to be part of the F1 circus that’s why winning means so much to me,” said James Gough. “Through my app, I want other fans to get a glimpse of being on the inside of the sport they love. I hope that my idea will help give fans access to all the data they want and that they’re able to use the data to not only see what’s happening but to understand why it happened. It should lead to more people getting involved in the sport.”
“During the last five years, this competition has shown us how much-untapped potential there is in the global community of F1 fans, and now we’re taking this initiative one step further by turning the winning idea from concept to reality,” said Mehul Kapadia Managing Director of Tata Communications’ F1 business and the company’s Global Head of Marketing. “From bringing half a billion fans worldwide the Grand Prix action each season to testing in action cutting-edge technologies like UHD video and virtual reality – we’re excited to be part of the digital transformation of this great sport. Like with other multinational enterprises, it’s all about supporting Formula 1® as the organization leverages the latest tech innovations to grow its global audience and open up new revenue streams.”
The panel of judges for the 2018 F1 Innovation Prize included Lewis, Ross, and Mehul, as well as Roberto Dalla, Managing Director of Broadcasting and Technical Operations, Formula 1; Technical Director of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, James Allison; and former F1 driver and Sky Sports F1 commentator, Martin Brundle.