Not The Australian Grand Prix

Pedro Almeida | March 19, 2020

They say that the first is never forgotten. Well, this was a first for us… and what an unbelievable day for the motorsport community!

Formula1 was ready to start the 2020 season with the opening race in Australia. Unfortunately, the spread of the coronavirus has put the season on pause and forced the world to stay home.

After Jean-Eric Vergne threw down the gauntlet and proposed to his fellow racing drivers an online racing championship, fans around the world couldn’t believe was to come: their favourite drivers and game coming together on screen to compete in a virtual F1 race. To fill the void and make up for fans who for years have been competing head-to-head with their favourite drivers behind the wheel, some F1 drivers decided to get together and provide some entertainment, bringing joy to our Sunday evening.

The online event, #NotTheAusGP, consisted of challenging F1 Esports big hitters against (real life!) Formula 1 drivers, content creators and a (very famous) goalkeeper, in the Formula1 2019 game. Live streaming via Twitch, it featured about 180k viewers on all channels, with only 3 days’ notice.

Veloce Esports teamed up with some real-life drivers: Lando Norris (McLaren driver), Fenestraz (Formula 3 champion), Jean-Eric Vergne (former Formula 1 driver and last year’s winner of the Formula E championship) and Stoffel Vandoorne (Formula E driver). They also managed to get Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid goalkeeper, Formula 1 fan, to compete. What an insane line-up!

This unexpected yet amazing idea gave rise to unlikely battles across 29 laps that drivers and fans around the world were thrilled to witness.

At Mindprober we are always ready to race and at the forefront of technology and sports events. While facing these uncertain times, this unique prospect opened the doors for us to gather some insight from Sports and ESports fans emotional engagement throughout the race: how would they react to the combination of the real and digital world?

We measured the biometric reactions in real time of a panel of 80 fans at home as they watched the #NotTheAusGP live on Twitch. One thing we can assure you… esports are engaging! From the build-up of engagement at the grid, onboard camera angles and key events during the race, the virtual setup is second to none.

Engagement peak at the start of the race

In many places, our results are in keeping with real world motorsports engagement response throughout the race. We see a clear increase in engagement during the formation lap, even when Lando Norris completely forgot F1 starting procedures, reaching an engagement peak at the start of the race… lights out!

The incidents and crashes across the race seem to be the result of a skills gap between top Esports players and real-life drivers. Although, we can all accept there’s scope for more reckless driving behind the screens than on the real track!

Apart from one of the big hitters of the Esports community, and multiple race-winner Dani Bereznay, crossing the finish line for the win, there were several key moments during the race that left fans glued to the action on screen.

Exciting moments on lap 14, starring YouTube star WillNE, were accompanied by an increase in engagement from fans at home: from commentators rooting for him, his cool moves, great reactions, the battle with the Japanese Formula 3 Champion Sacha Fenestraz and his failure hitting the breaks that left him out of the battle, were some of the key moments of this race. Check the video below and see what our dashboard is telling us!

Exciting moments on lap 14

Something some of our clients are very interested in is getting insights on camera angle effectiveness: which angles work best in terms of driving engagement?

There are several camera angles used during racing events: onboard with the driver, drivers’ point of view, lateral angles. We broke down each camera angle throughout the race and came to the conclusion that the camera angle that mirrors the pilot’s point of view is the one that fans are most excited about. Same driver, same action, different angles.

Camera angles impact

These are just some of the results of our study. If you are interested in better understanding our results, its main conclusions and other applications of our data then please get in touch. We’ll be glad to share more insights with you.

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Pedro Almeida

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