Poll: Which F1 graphics set do you prefer?

Last weekend, at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, Formula One Management (FOM) unveiled a new graphics set, which on the whole has been well received by blog readers. Inevitably, comparisons will be made between this set of graphics and previous iterations. But which set is your favourite? Here is a look at each graphics set, along with a poll at the bottom of this post.

I’ve made a conscious decision to leave out any of the graphics set from before 1994, as my knowledge of what happened before then in this area is limited. I also don’t know whether there was a consistent graphics set used for complete years, or whether it was the decision of each of the local hosts. What I do know though, is that from 1994, things became a lot more consistent.

1994 to 2003
Anyone who began watching Formula 1 in the late 1990’s will remember this graphics set fondly. Probably dubbed as the classic graphics set, the World Feed graphics were standardised for the beginning of 1994 and remained in place for a decade.

The classic graphics set on display during the 2000 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying session.
The classic graphics set on display during the 2000 Australian Grand Prix Qualifying session.

For its time, the graphics did their job perfectly, but towards the end, the graphics set had outlived their welcome as viewers wanted more data and detail, especially those that had returned to the World Feed from the defunct F1 Digital+ platform. Plus, it is fair to say that those graphics would be unsuitable in a widescreen era, and unusable in a three-part qualifying session if not tweaked significantly.

1996 to 2002 – F1 Digital+
Whilst the majority of the world were accustomed to the classic graphics set seen above, a small portion of the audience who subscribed to the F1 Digital+ service across Europe (and in the UK through Sky during 2002) received a different graphics set, which was arguably ahead of its time.

The F1 Digital+ graphics set in action during practice for the 2002 United States Grand Prix.
The F1 Digital+ graphics set in action during practice for the 2002 United States Grand Prix.

Those who watched via the standard World Feed did see the F1 Digital+ graphics set once, during the 2002 United States Grand Prix, but apart from that, it was hidden away on the pay-per-view service. Once the service collapsed, the graphics were never seen again, although the collapse of the service was what probably led to the World Feed graphics getting an overhaul for the beginning of the 2004 season.

2004 to 2009
The 2004 to 2009 graphics set was notable given the number of new features that came with it, such as the timing tower, which I don’t believe was included in the F1 Digital+ set. This was also the first graphics set that made heavy use of the three lettered abbreviations that are now commonplace in motor sport. What I don’t know is whether these were FOM innovations within motor racing, or a trend that began elsewhere – anyone who watches football will know that abbreviations have been around for decades.

The no flash, more modern graphics set on display during qualifying for the 2006 Australian Grand Prix.
The no flash, more modern graphics set on display during qualifying for the 2006 Australian Grand Prix.

Items such as the rev-counter, which commonly appeared on F1 Digital+, soon became integrated into this graphics set. As with every graphics set, the set was adjusted as time progressed, but the basic template remained the same throughout. As FOM made the transition to widescreen for the 2007 season, the graphics set remained within the 4:3 safe area until they were replaced at the end of 2009. It may not have been the flashiest graphics set ever, however it did its job fine.

2010 to 2014
All of the previous graphics set up until 2010 had featured straight lines, either horizontally or vertically. The graphics set introduced at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix went for a more slanted approach, this was presumably done so it matched the slanted aspect of the F1 logo. Yes, the graphics did look ‘sexier’ than previous versions, but did it provide anything that the previous versions did not? Well, not really.

A picture of FOM's graphics set, as seen during Q2 at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.
A picture of FOM’s graphics set, as seen during Q2 at the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix.

When I compared Dorna’s MotoGP graphics with FOM’s graphics in October 2013, I concluded that “if you are looking for something easy on the eye, then FOM wins, but if you want a data driven set, then Dorna with their MotoGP graphics is a clear winner.” Like the previous version, this set of graphics went through multiple iterations from 2010 until 2014, but the overall vision remained the same, with not much changing under the surface during the course of those five years.

2015
And so, we come to 2015. The year in which FOM have appeared to rip up anything that existed beforehand and start fresh. The inspiration behind the minimalist approach stems from the way design is heading currently, with big brands going down that route. FOM are only following the trend, and I think they have made the right decision. I’m a really big fan of what we saw over the weekend.

The new graphics set on display during practice two at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.
The new graphics set on display during practice two at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

Of course, there are always room for improvements with any graphics set, but these are minor tweaks rather than a fundamental flaw in the design. In the poll currently running, 68 percent of you say that you like the new graphics, which is a huge step in the right direction. But, where does the 2015 graphics set stack up for you historically? Do you like the minimalist approach, or do you wish we could travel back in time to the 1990’s and get the ‘black and yellow’ colour scheme back? It is time to have your say in the poll below and as always your views and opinions are welcome.

How much airtime F1 Digital+ had back ten years ago

One thing that I very briefly noted in part 3 of ‘The Verdict so Far’ series was F1 Digital+’s airtime and how long they were on-air before and after practice sessions for their lone season in the UK back in 2002, which I thought would make for an interesting summary in a short blog.

Using a European race as the template, you can see F1 Digital+’s on-air times here, with the European race schedule, for this case Belgium here.

For Friday’s, F1 Digital+ stayed live for the entire day, although the gap between practice sessions was must smaller than what it was now. They were on-air for four hours, with the drivers’ on track for two x 1 hour sessions. As a result, they had half an hour build-up, a gap of approximately one hour in the middle with half an hour of analysis afterwards. On Saturday’s, the two morning practice sessions were 45 minutes each, with a half an hour gap in the middle. Again, F1 Digital+ had half an hour of build-up, and and half an hour of analysis afterwards.

Moving onto Qualifying and the Race however, the airtime was similar to that of ITV F1. For Qualifying they, like with practice, had half an hour of build-up and half an hour of analysis. ITV F1 in the middle of their contract had 30 minutes of build-up for Qualifying (after initially only having 20 minutes of Qualifying build-up for 1997 through to 1999), with 20 minutes approximately of analysis.

F1 Digital+’s warm-up programme on Sunday mornings was two and a half hours, although this is due to the Porsche Supercup, but the build-up is again longer than what Sky Sports F1 have for their practice sessions. For the race, F1 Digital+ had similar on-air length to that of ITV for the pre-show, but like with Qualifying their analysis after the Race was more comprehensive than ITV F1, with F1 Digital+ not going off-air until 15:30 (significantly later than ITV F1 at most races). Of course, F1 Digital+ was only experienced by ten thousand viewers at most per race, the highest figure being twenty five thousand viewers for the 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix. The rest of the three and a half million viewers had to put up with the ITV F1 service, which I shall look at briefly mid-week.