Formula One’s approach to data has tended to focus on the cars, but the motorsport is now collecting location data from fans at events to help understand their behaviour and rethink aspects of the F1 offer.

Matthew Roberts, who heads up the F1 research insight team, addressed this topic at the recent MRMW APAC conference, where he explained how sensor technology is used to detect spectator footfall and movement based on the signal strengths of wi-fi-enabled phones.

“If you are a race organiser or a race promoter, you are able to, in real-time, understand where people are,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s report: How Formula One is harnessing location data for insights.)

A dashboard shows where hot spots are, as well as stats such as repeat visits and dwell time. And Roberts believes this is a reliable guide at those races where the technology has been used – North America, Europe and the Middle East.

“We believe we are picking up about 80% of the attendance because not everyone has their WiFi turned on, obviously,” he said.

The 2019 season will see the onsite footfall project extended to cover 20 races, including the 2019 Japanese GP – the first from APAC.

“We are doing Japan this year, and then next year we are going to be doing Vietnam, because we are launching it in Hanoi (for the 2020 Vietnam GP),” said Roberts.

Elsewhere in the APAC region, he singled out the Singapore GP as already being “so much more sophisticated than a lot of our other races, so we get that insight already from the race organisers”.

“They know exactly where you are moving by your ticket; you scan your ticket at every zone.”

Sourced from WARC