Live onboard footage is the easiest way to put television viewers right into the midst of wheel-to-wheel racing on the track. Though, nothing portrays the visceral experience of driving an F1 car better than a camera mounted inside the driver’s helmet. Formula 1 introduced its Driver’s Eye helmet camera system during the 2021 season on a trial basis. Now, F1 is expanding the system’s use.
Formula 1 signed a new agreement with Racing Force Group, the parent company of Bell Helmets, to allow every driver’s helmet to be fitted with a camera during the 2023 season. According to Motorsport.com, the 2022 Driver’s Eye agreement allowed only drivers wearing Bell helmets to compete with a camera. Half of the 2022’s drivers, including seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, wore helmets produced by the American manufacturer.
The eight-millimeter wide camera is mounted inside the helmet’s protective padding at eye level. Over its development, the camera has gotten lighter and lighter. The system was initially 2.5 grams and is now just under 1.5 grams. Every bit of weight matters as the driver’s neck has to support the added mass, especially as g-forces impact the drivers during high-speed corners. Along with the agreement, Bell’s helmet system will have to undergo crash testing in other manufacturers’ helmets before universal approval for competitive use.
It isn’t yet clear if Formula 1 will mount a camera in every driver’s helmet during every track session. Though, the possibility of widespread implementation gives the series’ TV production team the tools to offer even more immersive broadcasts. F1 TV, the championship’s official streaming service, already allows subscribers to ride with drivers through their car’s onboard camera feed. Adding a flag-to-flag Driver’s Eye option would be the closest most fans will ever get to driving in a Grand Prix.