Formula One is currently the undisputed king of motorsport. However, the popularity of the sport is declining in some groups, mainly younger people, and even some older fans of the sport who feel it’s changed too much for earlier iterations.
The Roborace is a brand new type of racing championship, held between AI-powered robot racing cars. This is a futuristic and dramatic departure from the traditional racing model fans will be used to, and will some are dismissing it as a fad, others are eagerly awaiting the first race between robots.
In any case, it certainly poses a threat to F1’s crown, and may grow in popularity among younger viewers. With new technology, dynamic races, and more intense competition, it’s clear the sport has fantastic potential.
Roborace is new, exciting, something that has never been seen before. Much of the hype around it stems from the fact that the first race will be something that has never been done, even though the concept has existed for decades.
Seeing driverless cars battle for supremacy on a racetrack has a certain attraction that just can’t be replicated in Formula One, where drivers we’ve seen before race in cars that largely determine the winners before they’ve even left the starting line. With Roborace, all the cars are built to the same specification, the only difference is the AI software that operates it. This means that the ‘skill’ of the software will be of paramount importance in deciding the ultimate winner of the race. As there won’t be any human lives at risk, the designers of the software may program the cars to take more risks, driving harder and faster to make the races more interesting and exciting than Formula One could ever be.
This leaves many asking how Formula One can compete with the Roborace.
Formula One has enjoyed decades of prominence as a fantastic sport, adored by fans all over the world. But as tastes change, and new technology allows for different types of racing, fans can find themselves more aligned with new concepts that challenger Formula One.
Formula One must stay ahead of the Roborace by maintaining what makes it great: the high level of skill of its drivers, the world-class design of the cars, and the huge levels of revenue that go into its marketing.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Formula One has some of the greatest athletes in the world, handling machines moving at hundreds of miles an hour and reacting to changes at a split second. This must be maintained and capitalised upon.
One of the main criticisms of Formula One is that the cars are so far apart in technical ability that the skill of the drivers barely matters. Making sure that the drivers are on an even playing field could go a long way to making the sport more dynamic, and more unpredictable.
The cars used in Formula One enjoy the very cutting edge of technology, costing millions, and representing the work of hundreds of experts. The cars used in the Roborace are arguably even more impressive, able to operate autonomously at high speed.
If the cars in Formula One can’t take on the Roborace, they can make themselves more iconic, becoming individual brands in and of themselves. The problem with that is that Formula One’s cars are very hard to make distinct from one another as they all have to be as aerodynamic as possible, built to strict specifications. The cars could, in theory, be as important as the drivers, but only if time is invested into making them more than just means to an end.
Arguably the strongest element of Formula One is the community of fans that it has built up over the years. This is something Roborace may not build up for years, if it ever does at all. Having high community engagement, making races more accessible or easier to view, and ensuring the sport is attracting new viewers are all key to ensuring the continued success of Formula One.
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