Watching Formula 1 is my absolute favorite pastime. As a cycling addict for about two years and a Formula 1 fan since childhood, I’m always looking for ways to brighten and enhance my viewing experience of motor racing. This is especially true given the data-saturated, time-consuming, graphical cacophony of sectors, lap times, radio calls, tire data and more that defines the world of Formula 1.
So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered MultiViewer for F1, an unofficial desktop client for F1TV Access and F1TV Pro that is changing the way motorsport fans watch races. MultiViewer for F1 is undoubtedly the best Formula 1 viewing experience you can get your hands on. The desktop software, available as an app for macOS, Windows and Linux, uses all data from F1TV Pro. This includes lap times, onboard recordings and more to create a perfectly synchronized and fully customizable viewing experience unmatched by any major broadcaster in the F1 space.
(Image credit: @McCabeAlex)
MultiViewer for F1 has become a viral hit in recent months, and its creator tells me more than 40,000 people have tuned in through its client to watch Max Verstappen win the first round of the season in Bahrain. That’s a pretty hefty jump from last year’s 10-15,000 users. “It’s spreading like crazy,” the creator of MultiViewer iMore said in an interview.
MultiViewer’s founding father, a Europe-based CTO at a tech startup by trade, tells us he wants to remain anonymous, partly because his app falls in a “grey area” of F1TV Pro’s own Terms of Service. “It’s against terms to develop it,” he told me, “but it doesn’t provide access to anything that you wouldn’t have access to with your legally purchased subscription.” So you can think of it as a specialized browser.” The F1, at least by its guidelines, is more relaxed about “fan-built” projects of this kind.
And he’s right, none of the app’s content can be accessed without a subscription to either F1TV Access or F1TV Pro, the latter being the power behind those wild multi-screen onboard race day setups you may have seen on social media recently .
He is unsure about the future of the app as Formula 1 must decide whether to continue allowing it or end it. The developer told me that he “would be open to working with them to port it to other platforms in the future” and that he hopes they continue to allow the app.
(Image credit: @Bozzi)
However, users of MultiViewer for F1 remain very much in the clear. As mentioned, without a paid subscription to F1TV Access or F1TV Pro, you won’t be able to access any of the content, and the software won’t let you access anything that’s not otherwise available through that service. It’s really just a browser, of which there have been many examples in the past, just like f1viewer, Race Control and VROOM. MultiViewer’s Reddit and Discord chats also leave no room for talk of using VPNs or other tools to bypass geo-based transmission restrictions.
The origin story of MultiViewer for F1 “isn’t as good as you’d like it to be,” he tells me. “Since I don’t code as much as I used to, I wanted to pick it up again,” he says. A software engineer for more than half his life, he also used the f1viewer mentioned above with his F1TV subscription before new DRM protections put this app and many others out of action. “There weren’t any other alternatives out there, so I thought, how hard can that be?” Unhappy with F1TV’s own lack of multi-stream playback options, he got the first version up and running in just two days. The biggest endeavor was to sync all data and feeds to ensure all information was delivered in sync and at the right time. In a world where every millisecond counts, timing in Formula 1 is just as important for the spectator as it is for the teams and the drivers.
With no initial intention of going public, the app was only released on June 9 last year, and work had only started at the end of April 2022.
(Image credit: @jeroenvisser101)
The first design was a little more rudimentary than it is now, but despite that it was far more enticing than anything Sky Sports or any other broadcaster has to offer, “basically they just take what they can [F1TV] offer, but in a single package.”
Now the app offers lap times, split times, mini sectors, DRS, telemetry and more. “To be honest, it came as a surprise to me,” he says of the app’s newfound popularity. “I didn’t expect so many people to like it, I figured maybe a few hundred people at most would use it.”
Some of the setups in MultiViewer for F1’s Showcase are absolutely wild, including the hero image for this article. There is a plethora of different configurations with onboards (a camera feed straight from the car), timings, track maps and more available to the user that can be customized in any way imaginable. And there’s more to come.
“MultiViewer provides an API and is used by a lot of hobbyist developers, some of whom have built great integrations,” he tells me. “I want to make it even easier (and safer) to install third-party extensions (similar to Chrome/browser extensions) and offer an ‘app store’ of sorts with all the integrations there, with one-click installs.”
(Image credit: F1 MultiViewer)
As long as FOM doesn’t blow it out of the water, we could see new API integrations soon, like this awesome Stream Deck integration that lets you be your very own race leader, and my personal favourite, an app that integrates your Philips Smart Hue -Glow to reflect the colors of the race flags. The possibilities are endless. He’s also working on improvements to the layout engine, with promises of more options for saving windows and making it easier to drag and drop elements through a template to make it easier to get started with a new layout and use them to share. “I’d also like to add a ‘remote control’ that allows you to use other devices on the same network to do things,” he says, as well as an AutoDirector feature that can identify interesting moments along the way and display the appropriate B The use of live timings to transmit overtaking maneuvers when cars are in close proximity by the relevant driver’s PiP.
In fact, with some free time, this developer may have just unlocked the future of motorsport in your home. “I do think that ‘personalised shipments’ should be the future,” he says, “but I don’t think F1 will be the ones who are going to pioneer it.” He cites MotoGP and Japan’s SuperFormula as more advanced viewer offerings that already exist. The app has garnered so much acclaim on social media that even Formula 1’s TikTok admin responded to a viral post by simply saying “this is the way”. A TikTok video from the app received more than 8 million views and this ESPN tweet received more than 1.4 million impressions. Perhaps most surprisingly, at least one employee of the Formula 1 team came forward to confirm (unofficially, of course) that they used it for post-race analysis. “I think there are even more teams,” he told me, “the people in the pit lane are following me but haven’t told me anything.”
MultiViewer for F1 also benefits from a thriving Discord community with thousands of members able to share their love of racing, tips and troubleshooting, making it a unique community experience.
This guy is ready for the first race of the season 😲(via simenoyen/TikTok) pic.twitter.com/BneVTSHbkVM5. March 2023
There are even accessibility features in the pipeline, such as B. Transcriptions for team radio snippets, and there are color adjustments already in place so color-blind people can customize their display to better understand the color coding of sectors and lap times, which are crucial to the Formula 1 viewing experience.
Another new feature now in Early Access is Watch Parties, which allows streamers to host rights-free watchalongs of historical races that sync to all viewers, just like Apple’s SharePlay for iPhone. It’s really just a way to allow groups to watch archived races that are part of their subscriptions in sync, rather than one person illegally broadcasting a race to a whole bunch of followers and viewers.
Rest assured I’ll be spending every Formula 1 race using MultiViewer for F1 for as long as I can, or until Formula 1 nabs its creator and integrates the app into their own offering, hopefully giving our man a hefty chunk of cash in the process . MultiViewer for F1 is available for free on Windows, macOS and Linux and requires an F1TV Pro subscription to fully enjoy it. Unfortunately, F1TV Pro is only available in some countries. For example, in the UK, Sky has the exclusive rights to broadcast F1, so there are no legal ways to access and watch the service. However, it works in the US and many other European countries. The full list can be found here (opens in new tab).
Download MultiViewer for F1 on Mac (opens in new tab)