Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Introducing F1 analysis in real time // The Factbyte Factbox gives live statistics as races unfold

Published by Mr. C

While post-race F1 charts and graphs are commonplace around the web, I'm not sure anyone has ever tried to produce real time analysis of track sessions whilst those sessions were still in progress. Today Sidepodcast has changed all that, by introducing what may well be F1's first ever platform for live statistics.

A bigger slice of pie

Live qualifying performance analysis

During Saturday's qualifying session for the Singapore Grand Prix, we upgraded the already rather handy Factbyte Factbox to include on-the-fly charting content, analysing the action on track as it happened.

Initially we're introducing two charting components, a pie chart for quickly detailing which driver has the edge over their team-mate, plus a visual gap analyser to easily compare relative space between cars. These charts are integrated into the Factbyte Factbox and provide a new and hopefully simpler means of understanding the wealth of data presented during any Formula 1 session.

The data that drives all of this isn't new or unique to us, but we've attempted to present it the most straightforward way possible. Formula 1 has a talent for making itself inaccessible to all but the dedicated fan, but we'd like to think anyone could benefit from reading this content. The goal was to keep the interface uncluttered and easy to read at a glance, either during a live session or for reference afterwards. If you need to think about what you're seeing, we've failed.

Bridging the gap

Pole position shootout analysis

Of the two components introduced today, the visual gap analyser (which could really do with a snappier title) is my favourite update. I love being able to visualise space between positions, rather than trying to extrapolate the distance in my head. Why graphics such as this aren't already available from those in charge is beyond me, but as they're not, we're more than happy to fill the gap in the interim.

The secondary point about today's update is the way in which this new content is delivered. Factbyte Factbox updates appear on your screen roughly within a second of the data being posted. That is essentially realtime information coming at you though the course of a session. The biggest delay in fact, is getting data from the circuit to Christine who's busy posting updates. As soon as she has the data so will you.

Even the iPod can display real time charts thanks to the HTML5 Canvas element

The last thing to mention is a little geeky, but indulge me. I'm quite pleased with how the charts are being rendered on the page. Instead of using a traditional Flash plugin to draw content, we're utilising the more modern HTML5 Canvas element. This means your iPhone or Android mobile can handle the content just as well as your desktop and you won't experience plugin initialisation delays you often find with typical Flash charting tools. There is one downside to this and that is older web browsers will struggle with Canvas elements. When we said recently that you will need a modern browser to get the most from Sidepodcast, we weren't kidding. Browser upgrades are free, do it now.

This weekend we're testing the waters to a degree, but you can expect much more along similar lines in the future. In much the same way that F1 teams bring new innovations to every race, the possibilities of introducing more insight for every race is quite compelling.

If you didn't catch qualifying live, take a look through the highlights thread posted after each session. Please also check out Sidepodcast during the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday and let us know if you find real time analysis useful in any way. Equally, please shout if you think there's any other information you think would be helpful, we'll try our hand at anything.