5 MAY, 2017 – With no shortage of wheel-to-wheel action so far this season, the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost continues to live up to its reputation as one of the most thrilling and competitive series. Yet it’s not just what’s taking place on track which is getting people talking. Fans have been closer to the action in a way that they could have previously only dreamed of thanks to the British F4 Virtual Reality Experience, giving them the chance to experience what it’s like to be a British F4 driver.
“This is another shining example of Ford’s continued support to keep British F4 at the forefront of the junior single-seater scene and as the benchmark for FIA Formula 4 championship’s around the world,” said Gerard Quinn, Senior Manager, Ford Performance Europe.
“The championship pioneered the first 360-degree video of any junior single-seater series and has taken it a step further with VR, raising social and digital media awareness among young, aspiring drivers.
“What we have created gives people an immersive single seat Ford EcoBoost experience which comes from a virtual driver’s seat. Showcasing the same technology that exists in Ford’s road cars such as the Fiesta ST.
“VR aligns with Ford’s aim to bring consumers the latest technology – by going further. We have already used VR with performance products such as the Mustang and new Ford GT, as well as using VR for capturing the excitement of the Ford GT racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA.”
The British F4 VR Experience comes as an evolution from the hugely successful British F4 360-degree video last year, which the championship created with its official 360-degree video provider Infinite Pixel.
“We started working with British F4 last year, but even just one year ago the camera technology at our disposal was still very much in its infancy,” explained Infinite Pixel creative director Alex Harvey.
“This time we have been able to use three cameras which are far more advanced and produce footage in higher definition. What we have made is more immersive so you can feel what it’s like to be a driver.
“The content we are providing Ford and the championship is amazing because it can sit on all platforms. It’s more than just a really cool Facebook and YouTube 360 video because the best way to experience it is with the VR headsets.”
The viewing technology comes from championship partner Samsung with its acclaimed Gear VR and Galaxy S7 phones. The quality of which was not lost on Pirtek-backed British Touring Car Champion Andrew Jordan: “The technology is very impressive. For someone to be able to experience motor racing in this way is so cool.
“The experience is not just about what goes on in the car, it’s also about everything leading up to that point, as well as after it. It’s awesome and gives an incredible insight.
“This is the first time I have tried anything like this. I’ve heard that this sort of technology is out there and it has a variety of applications, but what British F4 has done is really special.”
Fellow Pirtek-backed star and current British F4 championship leader Carlin’s Jamie Caroline was equally enthusiastic after swapping his real Ford EcoBoost-powered racer for a virtual one: “I’ve tried one of these VR experiences before and it made me feel disorientated, but this one is so smooth and seamless.
“It will give fans a better insight into what we as drivers do during a race weekend. Fans get to be right there with us, going through the data, in the garages with the teams, in the pit lane, doing race starts and racing with us, and even celebrating on the podium.
“I would 100 per cent recommend people try it. Anyone out there, if you can make it to the Ford Race Centre give British F4 VR a go. It’s mega!”
The experience features a beautiful musical score and truly thought-provoking narration on the importance of teamwork and dedication in the success of any driver.
“It really gives you a sense of what it’s like being in a race situation,” commented British F4 race winner Linus Lundqvist who drives for Double R. “The narration that accompanies the footage with the soundtrack really gets you thinking.
“It’s excellent to be part of a championship which has Ford’s backing. They invest the time, money and effort to make things like this possible. It’s a brilliant way to promote the championship and us as drivers.”
TRS Arden’s Oscar Piastri plays a starring role in the experience and was full of praise having tried it out for the first time: “In the driver briefing I turned around and saw myself which was pretty surprising and then riding in my car, racing other people was so cool.
“It’s great that the championship and Ford are constantly taking an innovative approach. It brings publicity to the series and for the drivers as well.
“This is something very unique and very special. I’m proud to be a part of an experience like this, which to my knowledge is the first of its kind in the racing world.”
Commentators have been getting in on the British F4 VR action too. “I can’t help but marvel at how brilliantly this showcases what a driver goes through on race day, from start to the finish,” said the voice of British F4, ITV Sport commentator Richard John Neil.
“Some of the camera angles and locations are remarkable. Anyone who is at a BTCC round should visit the Ford Race Centre to try this out.”
For those yet to enter the Ford EcoBoost-powered virtual world, the British F4 Virtual Reality Experience Zone will be located at the Ford Race Centre in the support paddock at Thruxton Circuit this weekend (6/7 May) and will also be at the following BTCC meetings:
20/21 May Oulton Park
10/11 Jun Croft
12/13 Aug Knockhill
16/17 Sep Silverstone
30 Sep/1 Oct Brands Hatch GP