What Formula 1 Drivers See, That You Don’t

While Formula 1 drivers’ workouts and cat-like reflexes are trotted out on Instagram like nobody’s business — and their rivalries are endlessly dissected on Netflix’s Drive To Survive — there’s a lot of Formula 1 action we, the viewers, don’t see.

What Formula 1 drivers see during a qualifying lap, for instance, is relatively unknown. Or at least, to us, it was, up until our ignorance was rectified by a recent Reddit thread in the r/F1Technical community (and Twitter).

Entitled: “Ferrari F1-75 dash layout: What the drivers see during a qualifying lap,” the thread shares a photo which purports to show what Formula 1 drivers see during a qualifying lap.

The poster of the photo, r/DrivenByData_also claimed: “As drivers prepare to open a lap in practice and qualifying, they are asked, typically in the final corner, to select MODE PSH, giving them the described layout for the duration of the coming lap.”

“The display mode is set using the centermost rotary on the steering wheel,” they wrote, “where the 6 o’clock position (Ferrari horse rotated 180°), denotes MODE PSH while 12 o’clock is MODE RACE, typically selected just as the driver lines up in his grid box prior to the start of the race.”

r/DrivenByData_ then qualified his statements and graphic by saying “this information is not officially confirmed, it is inferred from onboard and visor-cam footage.”

“As such, there may be inaccuracies in the information displayed.”

r/DrivenByData_

Other Reddit users discussed why some drivers’ dashes were easier to spy on than others. One wrote: “I know RBR use a polarized screen to prevent the cameras from picking this up; maybe Ferrari should do this, at least with the charge indicator.”

“Or maybe the teams can see the GPS/mini sector data and figure it out anyways so they don’t really care.”

Screenshot via Reddit

r/DrivenByData_ responded: “Is [sic] is surprisingly easy to see, even with the conventional T-cam camera angle and now with the visor-cam it’s hard to miss.”

“One wonders why Ferrari hasn’t done more to cover it up, especially now that the visor-cam has made it so easy to see, but I suspect it’s just very difficult to cover it up effectively while also allowing the driver to quickly and easily pick up the information in the extremely violent environment an F1 cars constitutes,” r/DrivenByData_ added.

“So even though you may be giving away some information to your competitors, the alternative of your driver not being able to easily access the information would be even worse for performance in the grand scheme of things.”

r/DrivenByData

“In any case, some other teams, perhaps not to the extent of Ferrari, but still, make an equally small effect to cover up the SOC on their ERS-unit (McLaren, Alpine come to mind).”

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Another Reddit user said the F1 graphics are so bad this year that they look “at the wheel to see how well (or badly) a driver is doing during that particular lap” during onboards.

“Especially with Ferrari, it’s so clear to see,” the same user added.

On Twitter, where r/DrivenByData also shared the graphic, other people questioned how on earth drivers process such complex information while driving at top speeds.

Yet more evidence of how damn talented these drivers are.

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