Formula 1 drivers have raised the idea of incorporating rear view cameras to improve visibility following complaints about the effectiveness of the current mirrors.
The introduction of lower rear wings in 2017 had an impact on visibility via the mirrors either side of the cockpit, and has often raised in debates over racing incidents since. The topic again came up during the drivers’ briefing with Charlie Whiting in Austin when Kevin Magnussen’s block on Charles Leclerc in Japan was revisited, and Magnussen complained this week about the difficulty in judging closing speeds.
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“I have discussed it with [Whiting] in Austin,” Magnussen said. “We looked it through and I obviously knew about his opinion from his press thing that he did – I have to say he was right to change his opinion, because it was too late that I moved over. But the problem is you can’t see the guy behind you until he moves, then you can see him. That’s a problem that we need to fix all together.
“You’ve got the rear wing… so when the guy is right behind you, you don’t see him. As soon as he moves out, that’s when he becomes visible. You can’t do anything other than react to when you see it.
“These cars are pretty bad when you have someone close behind, you don’t know where he is. You can only see him when he’s at an angle, so either in a corner or offset like that. If he’s right behind you, you’re blind.”
One potential solution suggested by the drivers is to incorporate a rear view camera, either in place of the mirrors or to support them. Antonio Giovinazzi raced in the World Endurance Championship in 2016, driving an LMP2 car that featured both mirrors and a rear view camera, and next year’s Sauber driver supports the idea of using similar technology in F1.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Giovinazzi said. “Now, it’s really difficult to see with the mirrors with the aerodynamics at the back of the car, so maybe a screen will help. It will depend where you put the screen and everything, but I think it can be a good option.
“It was really good [in LMP2]. In an endurance race you need the mirrors more because an LMP1 car is coming or a GT car is behind you, so you need to see more. I think this was really good for drivers to have a camera to see what’s behind.”
A number of team bosses also confirmed it would be possible to incorporate a camera, given what is already in use in other series.
“The technology is out there,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said. “It’s already available, the technology. We could do that, and I think it’s in discussion with the FIA at the moment. Charlie Whiting is looking into it. If that is a better way to look to the side and backwards, when the Saubers are coming, we can see them and we don’t run into them!”
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ABOUT CHRIS MEDLAND
While studying Sports Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, Chris managed to talk his way into working at the British Grand Prix in 2008 and was retained for three years before joining ESPN F1 as Assistant Editor. After three years at ESPN, a spell as F1 Editor at Crash Media Group was followed by the major task of launching F1i.com’s English-language website and running it as Editor. Present at every race since the start of 2014, he has continued building his freelance portfolio, working with international titles. As well as writing for RACER, he contributes to BBC 5Live and Sky Sports in the UK as well as working with titles in Japan and the Middle East.