For motorsport and technology fans, the F1 Innovation Prize is a unique chance to shape the future of the sport – and win $50,000 in the process.
It brings outsiders into F1’s inner sanctum, with behind the scenes access to the F1 paddock and technology centres.
Entries are judged by the combined might of Formula 1, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Tata Communications, offering fans and technology enthusiasts a chance to compete in F1’s only global crowdsourced innovation competition.
We spoke to previous winner Datu YogaBrata about how being part of this ground breaking competition changed his life, what his winning idea was and new experiences as an F1 fan.
What inspired you to enter the F1 Innovation prize challenge?
What inspired me to take on the challenge was passion. I’ve been following Formula 1 since 1999 and I was always curious about every aspect of it, so I tried in every way to experience it as more than just a fan; by playing games, driving on race tracks and researching the technology. I found the Tata Communications F1 Innovation Prize interesting because the topics are related to my qualifications in computer engineering and my role as a game designer. I was inspired by the technology to implement ideas for F1 so I thought I would give it a try – and it worked out!
What was the challenge you faced and what was your winning idea?
The challenge I worked on in 2016 was to use VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) technology to develop an F1 fans experience solution. My winning idea was to give a group of roaming commentators their own wearable body cameras via which to broadcast a report. This enables fans to access the VR videos on their portable gadgets, a little like how you access Google Street View, but with video. People can then choose what they want to see by popping up augmented reality on the screen display and it will reveal more details about that object. For example, if the fans encounter an F1 car, it shows the augmented information about the engine, aerodynamics, sponsors, etc. It depends what they want to see. It makes them feel like they are there in person – it also opens an opportunity for sponsors to boost their visibility, and thus bring more money into the sport.
How have you found entering the competition has changed your viewing experience as a fan?
As an F1 fan, I have achieved beyond my wildest expectations. I live in Asia, where very little of the technical innovations of the sport take place as the team garages are mainly based in the UK and Europe. I was so happy when F1 came to Singapore in 2008, I never miss a single visit to the track. The competition has given me better insight into what the sport is really like. I’m so proud and delighted that my voice can be heard and considered with regards to improvements in the sport. I really hope that I have the opportunity to continue to contribute to the sport in the future.
What did winning the top prize do for you?
Firstly, I left Austin $50,000 richer than before! That’s a really good thing. It happened not long after I got married, so I brought my wife to Austin and she got to experience everything with me. It became our honeymoon, so it was a really special and memorable occasion for both of us. Those memories will live with us forever. We even took a photo with us dressed in traditional costume kissing the trophy, that was a way to really appreciate the moment. Other than the financial aspect, it really helped me to benchmark the quality of my design thinking. At work, people send emails to my company about business collaborations or partnerships and I think it’s because they saw my name on the Tata Communications website and then searched for me on Google. It helped to expose not only myself but also the positive impact of my profession.
How do you see the sport evolving?
I think F1 has a good direction since Liberty Media has come in. Previously I felt that it was a bit distant from the fans, many people were confused about why F1 drivers are athletes – they didn’t get the real insight about how mentally and physically challenging it is to be an F1 driver. Now, fans are able to experience things on a different level with the help of social media – to really get closer to the sport – they can have more interaction with their heroes. Street demonstrations are a good example, this lets fans get closer to the action if they can’t access the circuits. The other thing is that F1 experience package, where fans can experience the thrill and G-Force by being a passenger on the double-seater F1 car. So I think F1 should explore more avenues like that. I’m happy that I had a chance to experience some of those for myself. I think overall F1 is on the right track right now.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering next year’s prize?
My personal advice is to do more research about F1 and technology than you think you need! Try to really understand the challenge, try to understand how it makes sense from a fan’s point of view, from a business point of view – then be creative about it! Finally, cross your fingers and hope it works out!
Click here to register your interest for next year’s challenge.
By: Jennifer Mason
All images: Tata & Motorsport Images