May 15, 2018 / 2:18 PM / a year ago

Apologies flow after troubled launch of F1 streaming service

LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One has apologised to fans for problems with an already-delayed F1 TV streaming service at its launch in Spain last weekend.

Formula One F1 - Spanish Grand Prix - Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain - May 13, 2018 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen ahead of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo out of the first corner at the start of the race REUTERS/Albert Gea

Fans were complaining on social media from early in the weekend that the product they had subscribed to suffered from buffering and other issues that rendered it unwatchable.

Formula One acknowledged on its official website that it had suffered "some live playback issues" at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya and apologised for the inconvenience.

Subscribers were offered a refund with Formula One saying “this weekend was on us.”.

Motorsport director Ross Brawn, in a post-race review issued by Formula One on Tuesday, acknowledged the launch “did not go very smoothly”.

“Apologies to our fans, but we are dragging our sport from a place where none of these initiatives previously existed and we will get there,” added the former Honda, Brawn GP and Mercedes team principal.

“In some ways that’s what Formula One is about, a sport where things are developed on the move and on the track with technology that is always cutting edge” he added.

Formula One also launched its Twitter Live show and F1 Vision, a hand-held device on which fans at the circuit can follow the race, in Barcelona.

F1 TV was announced in February and originally scheduled for launch at the opening Australian Grand Prix in March but had to be delayed due to technical problems.

The service, on two levels with a more expensive Pro premium package and a cheaper basic access, is the Liberty Media-owned sport’s biggest investment to date in its digital transformation.

Presented as an opportunity for fans to watch races from their favorite driver’s perspective and with richer content, the immediate verdict was that the product still left a lot to be desired.

“It still doesn’t have the splitscreens, it doesn’t offer any data on drivers or tires, doesn’t show press conferences or interviews, the audio configuration of onboards needs to be fixed and the archive completed,” said an opinion piece on the website.

“The service that was promised back in March looks like it is still very far away unless there’s a drastic turnaround.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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