Dave Robson says it is not ideal to run the helmet camera for obvious reasons, but if F1 sees it is good for sport, then it is fine, as he adds on Williams having their dash on the car and not the steering wheel.
The Italian GP saw the return of the helmet camera. Williams’ Russell was running the camera through free practice, qualifying, sprint qualifying and the F1 grand prix. Though providing interest and first hand experience to fans, it also displays everything that’s on the dash which isn’t the ideal situation for any team.
Incorporating the helmet camera into F1 has been talked about since Formula E introduced it last year. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso ran the helmet camera at the Belgian GP which gave an incredible insight for fans on what drivers do while driving.
A big downside, however, is the fact that everything on the dash and all the settings on the steering wheel are shown to fans and opposing teams operations, by the camera. The resolution to this problem in Formula E was blurring the dash of the driver whose camera was used during the race, but that same decision has not yet been mirrored by F1 and remains a focal point in discussion.
Alpine did not use to beyond the practice session, but Williams had it all-through. Having run it through, the head of vehicle performance, Robson, says that the placement is clearly not great for them, but if it is for the good of the sport and its fans then it’s okay. He has no problem in running it again for the next few races.
“I mean it’s not ideal really I suppose, from our point of view but then again if it’s, if people find it interesting and entertaining then that’s all part of the sport isn’t it, so it’s probably not where I’d choose to put a camera for us but if people like that view then it’s all part of it that’s okay I think,” said Robson to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“We did discuss it a couple of days ago whether we’d just run it for the two free practice sessions and then take it off. Obviously Formula 1 were keen to run it through the competitive sessions. The installation of it is absolutely fine and it doesn’t cause us any problems or disadvantage, it’s purely down to what we were talking about before in terms of what’s visible on the dash.
“But I think for where we are and for the good of the sport we’re quite happy to run it. There’s nothing in particular to hide on the dash. And I’ve got no particular objection to that if Formula 1 want to run it, yeah,” summed up Robson.
An interestingly unique element about the Williams car, which came back to light via helmet camera, was that the information screen is permanently on the car rather than on the steering wheel, like how it typically is for most other teams. It showed that, as Russell turned the steering wheel at corners, the information screen was consequently blocked from his vision.
Cost is one of the big reasons for any F1 team to not switch from the car to the steering wheel, and as Robson said, Williams considered fitting the information screen onto the steering wheel, but that ultimately the current design is comfortable enough for them. They will change if needed, but it doesn’t seem it will for 2022 either.
“We’ve looked at it before and decided it wasn’t really worth the effort and it was absolutely fine where it is, stationary so I don’t know how much they look at it when the wheel’s actually turned anyway to be honest,” said Robson.
“You would like to think they have better things to do at that point in the corner, so I don’t know, it’s something we’ll continuously review or as and when we redesign the steering wheel but we’re pretty comfortable with it where it is at the moment.”
The story was written by Selena Aburas
Here’s video of George Russell during Sprint Qualifying start: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-italian-gp-f1-sprint-helmet-camera-on-george-russell-at-the-start-of-the-f1-sprint-at-monza.1710621405466325617.html
Here’s Williams on running young drivers in Friday sessions
Here’s George Russell on Budapest being the breakthrough for Williams