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Behind the scenes: Live on-board TV broadcasting

Submitted by on July 23, 2012

James Hunt onboard camera

We all want to be Formula One drivers, don’t we?  Sadly we can’t all be. So what’s the next best thing? Living it vicariously with live on-board TV footage

Cameras had been mounted to F1 cars from the ’60s onwards, usually on massive frames during practice to capture a magic lap. Elf produced a big series with Sir Jackie Stewart driving after his retirement. It was a great series of laps of the race tracks of the world.

Jackie Stewart on board

The excellent film Grand Prix utilised on-board images in the 60s, but live? No not yet.

It was the Australians that pioneered live on-board TV coverage, especially at Bathurst from 1983 on Channel Seven – not just with on-board footage, but interviews with drivers in-car during the race.

Formula One was, unusually, slow on the uptake of the technology. The first toe dipped in the water with live on-board was on François Hesnault’s Renault at the Nurburgring in 1985. It was a third entry from the Renault team, effectively a novelty camera car.

Since then live on-board footage has come on in leaps and bounds. In America, Paul Tracy ran CART races in 2002 with a camera inside his helmet. For anyone that has never driven a racing car, this is the closest you will get to feel the sensation of the real thing.

F1 has fully embraced it now, helicopters relaying the images to producers, and experimenting with different views. Some cars carry up to three cameras. At Silverstone 2012, McLaren experimented with an “eye cam” taped to both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button’s helmets for practice. The images were great.

Lewis Hamilton helmet camera McLaren

So the big question: What is your favourite on-board lap? Post it on our  Facebook page or comment on this story. We welcome your feedback.

Special thanks to LAT, www.latphoto.co.uk, search their site, it is well worth it. And also Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

Follow @MotosportRetro and @Hallbean on Twitter and join in on the discussion on Facebook

By Andy Hallbery

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