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Racing smarter with technology

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 22, 2015
We find out how the Lotus F1, Williams Martini Racing, and Mercedes AMG Petronas teams are leveraging technology to improve their performance in an F1 race.

Besides providing 100Mbps connection speed for every test and race venue, BT is also bringing together the Williams' team fixed and mobile voice needs into a single service hosted in the cloud.  By doing so, William's engineers at the track-side and the headquarters in UK are now able to collaborate and make changes to improve car performance quickly. "We're now able to send the data generated at the race track --such as videos and telemetry -- to the UK within seconds to be analysed. This affects our race strategy," said Graeme K Hackland, Williams' IT Director.

Since network performance will deteriorate when a large amount of network bandwidth is used during a race, BT has optimised William's private network infrastructure through the deployment of acceleration capabilities, said Seb Hills, Head of Strategy for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa at BT Global Services. "By doing so, new critical information will be sent first while the data that repeats will be buffered. This thus removes latency issues when the engineers on the track communicate with the control team at the headquarters," he explained.

Even though the Williams-BT partnership only started in May this year, Hackland is positive that it will continue to bring competitive benefits for his team. His confidence is based on a pilot they embarked during last year's Singapore Grand Prix. "We didn't expect to experience immediate benefits during the trial but we did. Video analysis used to be scheduled and takes a whole night but with BT's networks, we were able to do it in real-time. This improved our strategic capability to make quicker decisions, leading to improved car performance," said Hackland.

"F1 is all about reacting quickly to ever-changing circumstances. Since we can't have all the people in our team at the circuit, we need fast data transfer between the UK team and trackside team, and BT enables that," said Pat Symonds, Williams' CTO.

Wearables to infiltrate F1?
When asked how he forsees new technologies influencing F1 in future, Mayer said that wearables could soon be used by the drivers to enable them to be more competitive. "Currently, there are a lot of sensors on the cars, but there are none on the driver. Since wearables could capture health data such as a driver's heart rate and liquid loss, they could help optimise his performance. For instance, clothing-related wearables that could regulate the driver's body temperature automatically may enable a driver to concentrate longer and perform optimally. "

Aside from drivers, Mayer added that his team is open to exploring Microsoft's virtual-reality headset Hololens to better visualise airflow around the cars during wind tunnels experiments.

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes team
Mercedes AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton. Screenshot from Epson UK's site. 

 

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