On April 26, the FIA Formula One Commission gathered in London for a meeting chaired by MIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem. In addition to discussing sprint races, changes in tire allocation, and the evolution of Formula 1 power units in an environmentally-conscious era, the Commission made an important announcement about helmet cams. The Technical Regulations for 2023 will be changed to mandate the use of helmet cams for all drivers. These cameras will give fans and teams alike access to the best possible views for future races, ensuring that all of the action is covered from every angle.
Helmet cams were first trailed in practice races in 2021 and have caused quite a stir online with their introduction to live races in 2022. The current FIA-approved cameras are 8mm in diameter and weigh just 2.5 grams, allowing them to easily piggyback inside the foam lining of a driver’s helmet. As of now, the FIA-approved cameras only work with Bell helmets, meaning 2022’s helmet camera views will be limited to a few teams. It is expected that FIA will approve other cameras for the 2023 season to help with the new camera mandate. In addition to putting these tiny cameras on drivers’ helmets, teams are excited to explore other mounting locations, including on footwells, in mirrors, and on rear lights. The incredibly light weight of these cameras means that teams can cram as many as 180 additional viewpoints onto their car while adding less than a pound of weight.
Feeling The Excitement
2022’s helmet cameras are mounted at the driver’s eye level, giving viewers an incredibly authentic experience that delivers an immense sense of speed and chaos. The new helmet cams have been incredibly popular among F1 enthusiasts so far. Many fans have commented on the drivers’ lack of visibility and the bumpy nature of the ride. F1 producers have tried to showcase the F1 races via on-board cameras for years with solutions like nose-on-board cameras, but the addition of a view of the cockpit and the camera tracking provided drivers’ head movement help make helmet cameras much more exciting and immersive. Cameras that aren’t car-mounted struggle to convey the intensity of the new proposing phenomenon, a ground-effect driven vertical wobble that’s stirring up lots of sparks among F1 fans worldwide. Now, when you’re playing 2022 Bahrain grand prix bingo, while watching the races at home, you’ll be able to check out the view from inside the cockpit and understand exactly what the driver has to deal with in order for you to tick off a square.
The Way Forward
While drone-mounted cameras have revolutionized the way we view sports like skiing and rallying, F1 organizers are hesitant to introduce more drones to F1 events. The incredible speeds of the cars make moving shots difficult, while the tight turns and small layouts make drone malfunctions a potential hazard that could very easily turn deadly. Instead, FIA seems content to revolutionize the F1 viewing experience by leveraging advances in miniaturization, giving us small, lightweight cameras that can broadcast viewpoints from all over the car to teams and producers. The current 8mm, 2.5-gram cameras aren’t perfect in terms of quality, but they’ve already completely changed how many fans view the sport.
As FIA approves more camera designs in 2023 and tech advances further, we’ll likely see better cameras, higher-definition visuals, and an even better experience for those of us watching at home. With high definition broadcasts and helmet cams in every car, the races of 2023 will likely give us the best viewing experience, ever.