Virtual Reality Could Soon Change The Way Fans Experience F1 Races

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Formula One, like most sports leagues, currently is finding its footing on the new media landscape. And although it’s just learning to embrace social media to the fullest, it might soon be rethinking its digital strategy yet again to utilize virtual reality.

Liberty Media already has begun shaking things up in its brief time owning F1 — through its lifting a social media ban and mandating drivers be easily identifiable in their cars — and VR could be the next tool it uses to help improve the show, according to Motorsport.com. Certain teams already have started trying to use the technology as part of their own marketing efforts.

Mercedes-AMG Petronas and its sponsor Bose set up an Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Garage Experience in Austin, Texas, during the weekend of the U.S. Grand Prix. Fans were able to walk around a dark room the size of a garage while listening to drivers and engineers interacting through headphones to experience what it’s like to be in the team’s camp during a practice session.

Lewis Hamilton

Bose’s global marketing chief, Ian McGibbon, said the project showcased how VR can help F1 engage with fans, and vice versa, in ways other mediums can’t.

“I think the consumer is after personal experiences first and foremost,” McGibbon said, via Motorsport.com. “But they always like behind the scenes too — so a peak behind the curtains scenario.”

Although it likely would use VR to help fans become fully immersed in highlights — similar to how the technology is used in sim racing — F1 also wants to provide people with access to the sport, even when the race is taking place in another hemisphere.

“What you watch on YouTube and Facebook is great and engaging, but people still want a physical experience,” McGibbon told Motorsport.com. “I think that is the way it will continue to go. It will be more and more about an engaging experience, but physical as well.”

With high-resolution headsets being such novel goods, their prices admittedly put them out of reach of many consumers. Industry experts, however, reportedly are reassured by the increasing sales of VR products and expect the market to continue to grow.

Thumbnail photo via Flickr/Iain
Story photo via Mercedes-AMG Petronas

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