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F1 for dummies?


In 1985, for reasons known only to itself, Coca-Cola opted to change the formula for its world famous product and relaunch as 'New Coke'.

Long, long before social media, the public reaction was swift and overwhelming. The company had got it horribly wrong and was forced to change, reverting to the original formula just three months later.

Regular readers of Pitpass will be aware that over the years we've had issues with the F1 Timing App that allows fans - for a price - to follow much of the live data available to the teams.

An update to the app in the middle of last season meant that for several races fans were unable to properly follow qualifying as the app failed to reset after Q1 and Q2 and as a result it was impossible to see who was improving and who wasn't. However, the issue was soon resolved.

This weekend's Singapore Grand Prix saw another major update to the app and the web-based timing system, unfortunately the errors of last year's upgrade pale into insignificance by comparison.

In all honesty, rather than a litany of what they've got wrong, it might be easier to say what they've got right, and other then a live telemetry feed allowing fans to follow speed, throttle and braking information, there's precious little.

While nearly all the relevant information was previously shown on one screen, fans now have to switch between a multitude of screens. Basics like current tyre, whether the driver is on track or in the pits and even (yellow flag) notifications from race control have been dropped.

Whereas fans, depending on the device they were using and its screen size, could previously follow all twenty cars, courtesy of the update this is now limited to seven, and in some cases just five. We are talking F1 here remember, not greyhound racing.

A brief glimpse at the many 1-star reviews left on the Play Store at the weekend, not to mention the angry and frustrated exchanges between fans and @F1help on Twitter, gives some idea of the mood as the sport's powers-that-be continue to put style very much over substance.

Messrs Carey, Bratches and Brawn ensure that almost every single sentence they utter, contains the word 'fans', but for the most part they are merely paying lip service, and for 'fan' read 'punter'.

Quite how this wretched botch-up of a job was signed-off is anyone's guess, for anyone who seriously believed this would improve the fan experience clearly has no understanding of their customers.

Then again, isn't that the issue, Messrs Carey and Bratches, in particular, have no understanding of the sport, and for them 'fan' is merely a soundbite to be used at every available opportunity.

Rather than listening to the fans - the customers - and giving them what they want, the powers-that-be are interested only in giving them what they want to give them, with a keen desire to monetise every aspect.

This was demonstrated in the feedback from @F1help on Twitter, which was clearly not prepared for the backlash but continued to insist that what was being provided was good and aimed at "improving the experience". All that was missing from the tweets was the now obligatory… "your comments are important to us…" guff.

At a time there is talk of all twenty drivers being given points, what use is it only being able to follow seven (or five) drivers on your screen?

While it is claimed the font size has been improved to assist those with impaired vision, this doesn't account for much of the previous data that has been removed leaving ‘acres' of empty screen, though we're sure the (newly announced) betting company logos will take up some of that.

Of particular annoyance to this user is that the updated app doesn't even include a 'stay awake' function and as a result the tablet would 'sleep' every ten minutes unless one hovered over it counting down the seconds until the next time. If nothing else, our editor's reactions are now almost on a par with Valtteri Bottas' start at the Red Bull Ring last year.

Rather than enhancing the fan experience - at a price - it was clear at the weekend that for almost all, the app update actually ruined much of the weekend.

However, let's not forget that F1 has history on this, following the numerous issues encountered with the official streaming service, which resulted in fans being refunded for at least one race weekend, Chase Carey subsequently admitted to the issues, telling an investors meeting that this year was basically all about beta testing and the full product will be rolled out next season. Those people who have paid for the streaming service - much like the F1 Timing App - didn't pay for Beta testing, they wanted - and paid for - a product that works.

F1 has done itself serious damage here. How seriously it takes the situation, and how seriously it really feels about the fans, will be reflected in how it reacts and when.


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1. Posted by MossMan, 27/09/2018 17:51

"@ georgetaylor

I wholeheartedly agree with top-posting being an evil in forum comments and the scourge of all e-mail generated by Microsoft products. I am an Internet Old-Timer and remember netiquette... Quite why MS decided to wilfully block all sensible attempts to reply and quote normally is beyond me, and unfortunately their backwards way of doing things has stuck..."

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2. Posted by Editor, 20/09/2018 11:55 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 20/09/2018 12:58)

"@ georgetaylor

I repeat, Pitpass exists on a shoestring... and can only dream of the budgets of its rivals.

Furthermore, yours is the first complaint we have received about the order of the comments, and since the site was 're-vamped' in 2013 that's pretty good going.

Indeed, the whole question of whether the latest (most recent) post should be at the top or bottom is one you might address to Twitter and Facebook... now they certainly have the resources to resolve such "little quirks".

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3. Posted by georgetaylor, 20/09/2018 11:46

"I tested the site with firefox, I still see the quote marks. I'm not using chrome.

I am not saying the new app changes are correct, I don't use the app at all because I prefer to watch the racing cars, but I can see that the old design with everything on one page was the only way a timing app should work.
The software developers have been tasked to make changes, or update the look, or prepare for forth-coming additions, and have spent some considerable time developing this new app, have preened and fiddled and tested until in their view it is ready for release, but nobody likes it!
Now they will either roll back the app, thus admitting they are incompetent and they'll be fired. or they will start promising to listen to the fans and begin adding bits in, and making changes as requested by the users. But be careful what you wish for, we asked for more overtaking but failed to indicate the type of overtaking and for the last 10 years we have cars breezing past on the straight due to the unfair advantage of DRS.

Really I am not complaining about the quote marks or the backwards comments, I just wanted to understand why it was like this. In order to read the 'conversation' in the comments I have to scroll to the bottom and read up-wards, and every comment appears to be quoting someone else. I guess it's just a quirk of the site that everybody else ignores.

There's little quirks on other sites that are puzzling, there's a news site that always shows the news stories of your last visit and a refresh must be done to get the latest, but at first glance it appears there are no new stories. There's another F1 site with normal readable text everywhere, except on the forum where it is tiny, so the forum is unused. Social media sites try and sort the comments and posts according to some algorithm instead of chronological order, the useless cruft of posts saying '5 hours ago', or 'Friday' or '19th July' instead of just indicating the post date. I recently updated the firmware in my router, and now the login screen has enormous text boxes that can be read from across the room, just what is NOT required when entering my admin username.

You may wonder what this has to do with the new app, and the connection is poor software development. None of these problems can be sorted by the user, no amount of user feedback will persuade the developers to change it back or put it right, because they have lived with the interface for so long during development that they can't and won't see the issue.

They deliberately double spaced everything in the app so information per-screen is limited, why did they do this?
Your comments section is upside-down, why?

Answer the second question and you probably have the answer to the first.

I'm not complaining about either situation, I just mentioned the oddity of your site because it fit the topic at hand."

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4. Posted by Spindoctor, 20/09/2018 9:08

"It's absolutely pathetic.
While I'll acknowledge that the data-collection\management aspects of the Application are probably complex, the on-screen presentation and design should be relatively straightforward for any competent developer. There is NO EXCUSE for F1 to produce this dross, let alone charge for it."

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5. Posted by Editor, 19/09/2018 11:37

"@ Mad Matt

Ah, see what you mean. It doesn't happen in Firefox, but when I look via Chrome I see the quote marks."

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6. Posted by Mad Matt, 19/09/2018 11:33 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 20/09/2018 12:58)

"I think what he means with quotes is that all comments are enclosed by quotes, so where you wrote
@ georgetaylor

In terms...

what we see is

"@ georgetaylor

In terms...

Note the leading quotation mark?

.... which is a little unnecessary. It doesn't bother me but apparently it does some others.

As for the order, I prefer the most recent comments at the top, just likes Sky's live commentary.

As you say, all of this amounts to less than nothing when compared to the disaster which is the F1 App!"

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7. Posted by Editor, 19/09/2018 10:33 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 19/09/2018 15:57)

"@ georgetaylor

In terms of the order of posts, we've never had a complaint before, and as for the quote marks I don't know what you are talking about.

Re: “Fix this before picking holes in the official F1 app.” – these quote marks intentional.

If we had 0.5% of the budget available to the official app, we could offer readers the site they dream of. Furthermore, readers get Pitpass for free... while one pays for the F1 App, therefore - like the (beta) streaming service, one expects a product that works.

The update of the official F1 app is a disaster, so say the majority of readers and F1 admits it, that is not “picking holes”

Is that you Chase? Sean?"

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8. Posted by georgetaylor, 19/09/2018 10:15

"Why is this comments section upside down, with the most recent at the top?
Also why is everything in quote marks?

Fix this before picking holes in the official F1 app.

It's pretty clear that the new look app is here to stay, and they will begin the slow task of adding back the things fans say they want, it will not be rolled back to the old app, because the data was too dense with no room for what is coming next. Which is adverts. "

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9. Posted by Editor, 19/09/2018 7:02 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 19/09/2018 7:02)

"@ francisn

The man whose company developed the original app, and the driving force behind it until quite recently, is a team prinipal. (Think pink!)"

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10. Posted by francisn, 18/09/2018 22:17

"Too right Chris. I used the Bernie era app right from the start, 12 years ago? It wasn't perfect but it worked after a fashion and showed the leaderboard, sector and lap times and gaps which is all I really wanted to know. Haven't bothered this year. Waste of money."

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11. Posted by mickl, 18/09/2018 22:05

"They've hired the old Iraqui PR minister to handle their marketing."

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12. Posted by Editor, 18/09/2018 22:02 (moderated by an Adminstrator, 20/09/2018 12:58)

"@ LifelessDead

Re: "The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly supportive of the new look...."

Twitter and the Play Store reviews would suggest otherwise."

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13. Posted by LifelessDead, 18/09/2018 18:17

"Reply from

Regarding the new layout/design of the app, we had a lot of people asking to change the tracker map so we carried out extensive research and listened to what was said. The feedback so far has been overwhelmingly supportive of the new look.


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14. Posted by TokyoAussie, 18/09/2018 15:15

"New app a travesty on any and every level. On an iPad mini in portrait mode, only 5 drivers displayed in font size so big I could read it from across the room. I’m astounded anybody in F1 management thought this design was OK, and then to thrust an app that doesn’t work online. Astounding.

Anything short of a complete rollback is unacceptable. "

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