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Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Head of IT Matt Harris explains the tech powering the F1 champions

Thomas Macaulay | Oct. 19, 2017
The team generates up to 30TB of data on a race weekend from cars equipped with around 200 sensors each.


How data drives performance

Data is of growing importance to the Mercedes F1 team. Its influence on the setup of the car and the strategy at the race can make the difference between spraying champagne on the podium and crashing out on the track.

As the cars run on the track live telemetry follows them round it over a third party network and sends the data to the teams. The Silver Arrows analyse the information in real-time to identify any issues with the car and ways in which the driver and the vehicle can improve on the performance.

"Each car has approximately 200 sensors," says Harris. "It does vary during a race weekend as to exactly how many because sensors are weight, and weight is less performance, so you always have that careful consideration between performance and information.

"The sensors that are on the car can tell us anything from tyre temperatures to wheel speeds to engine information to aero loads. Some of those are for performance, some of those are for safety, and some are for reliability.

"All of the teams have the same ECU [Electronic Control Unit], and the limitation on that is the speed that you can get data in and out of it, so you try and optimise the amount of data you store on it to try and minimise the amount of time it takes to get the data off."

Mercedes uses specialist WiFi technology created by Qualcomm to offload huge amounts of information at a rapid speed.

"We can get a couple of gig off the car in a couple of seconds over WiFi," says Harris. "We then plug it in the garage, get more data as well, and that's looked at in real-time by people in the factory and at the track."

A TATA Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) service takes data from the track to the factory, where there are none of the trackside limits on the number of team members who can analyse it. Some of the staff will receive a generic overview of performance, while others will be assigned to specific tasks, such as reviewing the engine, tyres or aero or a new addition to the car.

To augment the human analysis and reduce data processing, Mercedes is working with Tibco on ways to maximise efficiency through automated anomaly detection.

"You're now starting to engineer by exception rather than having to be clever enough to know what you're looking for," says Harris.


Data for performance and reliability

In total, they can accumulate up to 30 terabytes of data in a weekend. When the race is over, the work continues in testing at the factory.


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