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Technical Data Balance Sought for TV Graphics

Compromise sought between informing TV viewers and giving too much info to teams…

Photo: Formula E

A leading figure at the FIA believes that Formula E needs to find the right compromise between informing TV viewers and protecting data that could be used by teams to gain sporting benefits.

FIA circuit championships director Frederic Bertrand told e-racing365 that he and fellow organizers from Formula E Operations have been looking closely at how they can present interesting information on TV without conceding vital data that could be taken and used for gain by rival teams.

Formula E’s TV production, which is managed by the Aurora Media and North One concerns under in-house management, reduced some of the battery percentage graphics last season.

This move was made after it was ascertained that teams were using the information within their own strategies during races.

The FIA and Formula E are now evaluating how they can incorporate this data, as well as new information for this season, including the energy deduction during race neutralizations, into the TV package.

“I think as we try to work on marketing things, what we see right now is that we are exactly at the point where we struggle in giving information to the spectators because we know that the teams are working with it as well,” Bertrand told e-racing365.

“We give less and less visibility on the level of the battery and we think it’s a shame because it is one of the easy thing for TV spectators to understand what is going on.

“We want to find ways of giving those insights and then making it a very good marketing and TV tool for the show. Unfortunately, on the other side we know as soon as we show [the information] the teams try to exploit what we give.”

Bertrand also stated that presenting the regeneration of energy achieved by different cars is a key topic that the FIA and Formula E want to display in an informative way.

“We still think that we have a lot to explain on the TV,” he said. “When you speak with people watching in most cases [they will say] we don’t, for example, understand the regen system.

“And for us we want to make it [the] DNA of the championship. We think it is super important for the quality of the championship and the show. It’s road-relevant.”

Formula E currently doesn’t give any detailed information on car’s re-generation during races. This is largely because teams would extrapolate the data and use it for their own knowledge and study.

The series’ TV coverage does show some basic regen data in the form of kilowatts regained at some stages of the race through an on-screen graphic that also includes weather and speed information.

Bertrand highlighted last season’s Mexico City E-Prix as an example of TV viewers being left in the dark as to how drivers were saving energy when it became critical to the dramatic outcome of the race.

“People need to get it and then you can follow the race and you understand the challenge. Take for example last year’s race in Mexico between [Lucas] di Grassi and [Pascal] Wehrlein,” said Bertrand.

“It was very interesting for this, but on TV you didn’t really see how much Wehrlein was driving in a way to try to regen more and block di Grassi on the other side and where di Grassi had the better regen system and was able to overtake.

“You couldn’t even explain that to people and that was super frustrating.”

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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