Formula 1 fans watching the broadcast of Friday practice were treated to an all-new in-car camera angle from Fernando Alonso’s helmet.
The new in-car view gave spectators an incredible view of a lap around the Spa circuit.
Fans have long wanted a view from the drivers perspective. Until now, the closest was from the roll hoop camera.
While that did give people an idea of what it was like in the driver’s seat, it was nothing compared to the footage from Alonso’s car, which shows just how bumpy the track is.
The angle also showed viewers a clear look at the dashboard, something they wouldn’t otherwise get.
The new ‘Drivers Eye’ development sees a camera weighing only 2.5 grams attached to the left side of the helmet lining, giving almost the same view as the driver.
This comes as a result of a partnership between Formula 1, Bell Helmets, and its parent company Racing Force Group.
Formula 1’s director of broadcast and media Dean Locke spoke to Motorsport.com about the development.
“A few years ago we were looking at ways to do it,” Locke said.
“I think that when we first saw it [the Bell camera], it wasn’t on our road map necessarily, and we were looking at other options.
“It’s approved by the FIA from a safety perspective. It’s a very miniature camera that has been using our on-car system to take that signal and then deliver that back to us.
“I think what we want to do really is take it to a really good level. We’ve seen Bell’s commitment to doing a good job, and we’re also using our initiatives and our technology to make the delivery even better.”
While the camera does provide incredible views, it does also come with some drawbacks, primarily that the roll hop and in-car camera cant be used at the same time.
“It’s also a question of what we can get off the car while it’s going around the track,” Locke added.
“There is a ‘pipe’, and we can only get so much off that car. We’re looking to improve that technology. And we’re looking at that because we also need the roll hoop cameras, we also need the rear facers, we also need to get the data off the cars.
“So there’s only so much we can deal with at once until we get a bigger pipe off the car. It would be good to have more drivers, but there’s also a finite amount of content we can get off the cars.”
While the system is still in the testing phase, they wanted to gauge fan reaction.
“We’re about getting some really interesting and good shots. And this track lends itself to that, so it’s something we wanted to do here, really.
“We wanted to put it out because that’s a really good way to get feedback. Do the public like it? Do the broadcasters like it? We’re taking our coat off and showing what we’ve got and how we’re doing it. But very much to reiterate, we’re in test phase with it at the moment.
“We’ve seen some reaction online. F1 viewers generally just like new stuff, they like new tech. Broadcasters really like it, they particularly like it here, because it’s such a unique track to do it at. But I imagine there are probably some circuits where it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good.”
While all indication so far has been that it’s a popular development with fans and media alike, it is unclear when it will next be used on track.
“We’re taking a bit day-by-day.
“We wanted to run it today, we’ve got some bits that we wanted to do.
“There’s some work going on now. We hope to run it on Saturday, but also we have to talk to Alpine, and we have to talk to Fernando about doing it as well. And then who knows for Sunday? It’s a bit of a step-by-step test.”
“We’ve had a small conversation about next week. But this was very much a test, and we’re happy to do that test openly, rather than doing it behind closed doors.
Currently, there are 10 other drivers on the F1 grid that use Bell helmets, including Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Charles Leclerc, and Lando Norris, providing the series with options if it wants to expand to other drivers.