It is Sunday the 25th of November 2018. I have been a Formula1 fan for as long as I can remember and I’m finally able to attend my first Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi, the final race of the season. I am very excited, not only because it is my first time watching a live race of the formula 1, but also because I haven’t been to Abu Dhabi and at the Yas Marina Circuit before. It is still very hot here in November, at least in comparison to my home country Germany. 30 degrees celsius is perfectly normal for this time of year. Because of this heat, the race will not start until 5 pm local time.
Need for speed
I arrived 3 hours before the beginning to get a good view. And it pays off. I’m blown away by the race itself and by the illuminated venue at dawn. If I hadn’t been a huge fan before, I would be now at the latest. It is one of those events where what you see on TV is nothing compared to the emotions and experiences on site on the track. Obviously one of the main highlights is the speed of the cars. F1 is one of the fastest racings in the world. Standing in a corner on the racetrack and seeing the cars first slowing down and then explosively shooting out of the corner simply takes my breath away. In addition, the unfiltered sounds of the cars give me an unadulterated feeling of speed, which is hardly possible on television.
What also impresses me during the race are the other fans from all over the world and the very friendly atmosphere amongst them. Each driver has their own fan corner. And even though everyone wants their favorite driver to win, there is no place for hate, only for fun and support. After the race, I get the opportunity to walk the track by myself and see the corners where minutes before racing cars speeded by. It truly is an awesome and unforgettable experience. I will definitely attend another Grand Prix in the future.
Would have, could have, should have
….Then the pandemic hit. Initially I wanted to attend the Australian race on the 15th of March 2020, but the event was canceled. In the course of the pandemic, the following races were canceled as well. That was 1.5 years ago. Since then, I’ve switched to online streaming to watch my favorite sport, because as I said before, mainstream TV simply cannot do F1 justice. Online, I get more background information about the race, such as special difficulties of the tracks or an overview of the live times of the individual sectors.
What I miss about the watching experience are the emotions created by the speed of the cars rushing past you and the feeling of being part of a great event. With most streaming services, there is no way of exchanging emotions among fans. I miss cheering together with others, sharing our joy, or sometimes exchanging frustrating moments of the race. There is very little room for a sense of community, for contact with other fans and for joint support of the drivers. If I could wish for one thing, besides being able to safely watch at the track itself again, I would wish for the streams to become more fan-friendly. You can’t compare streaming the event at home with experiencing it on site – at least that’s what I thought in the beginning.
Kickstart to the future
Recently I have discovered a stream that excites me much more than I would have thought at the beginning of the pandemic, because there are very cool ways to be integrated and entertained as a fan. I didn’t expect that streaming a sports event could trigger so many emotions in me.
Through the chat it was possible to communicate with other viewers and share my feelings. Doing polls is also possible, so you can see, for example, what the majority of viewers think about the last racing team change. In the meantime, even friendships have developed between us fans.
Ready, steady, go
We even get actively involved during breaks or interruptions. During a small mini-game that was available for the short commercial break, I slipped into the role of my favorite driver and was able to take a spin in the track myself. What can I say – I was even 3 tenths of a second faster than the leading car.
As a little rite of passage, I put on my Formula 1 cap, which I bought as a souvenir on site in Abu Dhabi, for every race I watch. A place in my closet was already reserved for a souvenir from Australia. Now I’ll order a F1 polo shirt on the Internet. In the side panel of the stream, the merch store is even linked, so while I’m watching the race, I can already choose which item I want to buy afterwards or during a commercial break. I love it!
Although the on-site visitor experience can of course never be completely replaced by online streaming, this streaming tool definitely caters to the fans and gets them involved in the race. I think it would be really cool if there were more streams like this, since a return to watching without health risk on site is unfortunately not yet in sight.
Personalized interaction capabilities create a deeper connection between all your viewers who want to watch their favorite content together.
About the author:
Kristin Erhardt wrote her master’s thesis in 2021 in collaboration with vAudience. Since that time she is part of the marketing team and works there as a working student.