F1 analyzing fans skin

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Leave it to Formula 1 to spend money and over engineer an element of their product. In the latest effort, despite decades of surveys and the current near real time feedback from F1 Fan Voice emails and surveys, the series is still trying to understand what fans want to see.

Is it that elusive? I’ve read all surveys, both F1 commissioned and independent 3rd party surveys, and they all say the same thing—ultimately. Better racing on track via closer racing that allows for passing, stable regulations, consistent stewarding and some level of parity in competitive performance either via a cost cap or regulation set that allows for innovation but avoids big team dominance.

Reading an article over at ESPN, I was reminded of the over nerdification of F1. Why simply ask fans what they want, again, when we can hook them up to galvanic skin response machines and find that they were stimulated by Sebastian Vettel crashing out of the German Grand Prix or Lewis Hamilton hitting Alexander Albon in Brazil?

This isn’t rocket science and while the F1 fan lab rats may provide some interesting data about yellow flags, rain delays, grid walks, steward decisions, mid-race doldrums and more, I think people have been very forthright and frank in their feedback over the years about these issues. F1 fans are not at a loss for words when it comes to telling the owners what they like and dislike.

“We absolutely are focused on what’s good for the sport and what makes a good race,” Symonds said at the Autosport International roadshow. “You’d be amazed at the amount of analysis we’re doing on that.

“It’s even down to things like we have people who are wired up while they watch races, and we look at that galvanic skin response to see their emotions while they’re watching races. From that we’re starting to understand what are the things that are important.

“The human galvanic skin response refers to changes in the sweat gland activity that reflects the intensity of emotions — so judges properly how excited people are at a specific moment.”

“It is actually a well-known psychological factor called peak effect. If the end of a race is good people judge the race as being good. If the middle of the race is good but the end of the race is a little bit predictable, they don’t judge it as highly. We are aware of that.”

The peak effect is real but it’s just common sense isn’t it? An exciting end of a race does mean it was a good race. Regardless of the start or middle. This level of data seems a but like removing your wrist watch and telling you what time it is. Also, harvesting all of this data usually leads to over thinking a situation in F1 and over engineering or creating constructs and that’s not a good idea…just check my skin response and you’ll know that’s true. 

Hat Tip: ESPN

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