Sidepodcast // All for F1 and F1 for all

Keeping in touch // Mobile technology helps you stay connected at F1 races

Published by Mr. C

Back in 2007, Christine and I attended our first ever Grand Prix. We went to the British GP at Silverstone, and it's fair to say we weren't very prepared. We stayed on site for the full three days, courtesy of Honda, but had no internet connectivity for the duration.

Although Sidepodcast had only been going for a couple of months, it meant we couldn't keep the site up-to-date in our absence, and we couldn't track any breaking news stories either. Predictably, because it's Silverstone, a major story broke on the Friday (on this occasion it was news of Nick Fry's meeting with Stepney / Coughlan), and having no other means of finding out what the heck was going on, we resorting to quizzing Maurice Hamilton for info instead.

Honda F1 Scooters

Twice as nice

In 2008, we again visited the British Grand Prix, this time having had chance to try out some form of 3G connectivity at the preceding Silverstone F1 test.

Armed with a fairly clunky mobile phone and what felt like a military spec laptop, we set about keeping the site up-to-date, and passing comments about our weekend back to anyone following at home. It wasn't a massive success though, given the laptop lasted barely an hour between charges and the phone struggled once more than 500 comments had been posted.

On returning home, we were faced with what seemed like an endless list of improvements to be made before coming back.

Third time lucky

We've already covered in depth changes made this year to our hardware setup. Whilst in the background, Sidepodcast commenting functionality has quietly been improving to the point that it's now perfectly suited to following discussions from the grandstand at Copse - as we discovered when we settled in Friday morning at Silverstone.

During Free Practice one, we found ourselves relaxing with a Kangaroo TV in one hand, live comments in the other, 5Live commentary in our ears and race cars screaming past in front of us. We must've been the most informed people at the circuit. The folks in the media center may have had all the live timing screens in the world, but did they have a group of people watching, contributing and offering insight too?

Better yet, commenting has improved such that it's not just possible to follow, but posting and interacting was a breeze too. I fired off a quick question relating to 5Live's third presenter, and 20 seconds later received three replies that DJ Johnny Walker was in the commentary booth too.

On returning home this year, we came back without any kind of to do list.

Force India at Copse

Live commenting just works. It's a fantastic thing to have with you trackside and joining in the fun is free (connectivity costs aside). Should you be interested, there are multiple ways you can contribute to the conversation:

  • Live Commenting, Live... Thing - The ideal solution if you're travelling to a race with your laptop (and we spotted a few who do).
  • Real-time Doohickey - Perfect for following and commenting if you have a modern hand held device (iPhone, G1, Blackberry etc).
  • Real-time Mobile - A page for everyone else (especially anyone with older mobile phones).

There are plenty of races remaining this season, and if you're going to any of them, please don't forget to bookmark those links and comment to us from track. These days we live in a remarkably small world and there's no reason for anyone to feel as disconnected as we did back in 2007.

Keep in touch won't you?