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10 Feb 2017, 14:53

Formula 1 and the data behind it

With the new Formula 1 motor racing season soon to kick off, I know I’m going to be in the midst of all the office petrol heads going through their Monday morning post mortem of the previous Sundays Grand Prix event.  Drivers I’ve never heard of, constructor’s championships, fastest laps, qualifying times, pit crews, and spin offs. Blah Blah Blah, “Formula 1 for all you guys not into real sports”, sorry just joking, but where are you guys during the Rugby Six Nations, seriously, where are you?

Anyway, this time I will try to feign interest in Formula 1, just so as to feel involved in the Monday morning ritual, but I don’t know how long I can last, I hear the season is pretty long. YIPPEE.

 My ideal Pit Crew - Image source

Now what really interests me more, is what goes into making Formula 1 cars go faster, keeps them competitive, allows them to make performance changes and the technologies they are using to do this. The work that goes into shaving thousandths of a second on lap times, amazes me. The difference between winning and losing isn’t just down to the driver but includes a whole host of other inputs.

All the data points on a Formula 1 car produce terabytes of information, during each race and each practice session data is gathered from sensors for analysis. Key to this is what happens to that data, how is it used to improve the performance, react to environmental conditions, rain, moisture, heat, humidity.

Are the tyre pressures right, how quickly is fuel being burned and is it being burnt efficiently, is the car balanced correctly (see petrol heads, even a Mondeo driver like me knows handling is better in a balanced car) to ensure optimal performance. Remember this is live data we are talking about, the guys in pit lanes are constantly in view of every single piece of performance data and are advising and reacting to it, the driver is now the interface or if you like, the output of this data. Measure, analyse and react.

But one other thing to note is this, there is another team of engineers hidden away at a different location, not even necessarily in the same country. This team are also in possession of the information thanks to the glories of the internet of things (IoT). Data from the car sensors are now fed into computer simulations and variable outcomes can be calculated to give real time insights. Mirror this with data gathered in previous races and the team can now react and make changes to variables that are happening on track, remember those thousandths of a second on lap times it’s the difference between winning and coming wherever.

The analytics of data is where big strides in improvements can be made, it’s not just for Formula 1. Businesses these days are playing in the most competitive market environments that there’s ever been.

Similar to Formula 1 in shaving a few thousandths of seconds on lap times, businesses need to address efficiencies in manufacturing, inventory, asset management and more. These are the data points that are critical in making businesses competitive. Increased production line speeds and up time availability are important, but so too is engineering unwanted cost out the business.

The world today is more connected than ever before, and it will continue to be so as each new day passes. Whether we like it or not, data is the new King and the more we interact with it the easier it will be to understand. Those who are most engaged and reactive to it will ultimately emerge as the winners, it will be close but that’s why those few thousandths of a second are so important.

Put your money in data it’s a growing business sector.

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Favourite things are Family, Music and Judo. Also, I have the ability to retain and quote useless facts, something that pleases me but can annoy others. My engineering hero - Isambard Kingdom Brunel

10 Feb 2017, 14:53


February 20, 2017 10:52

A great example of this data can be seen here, brilliant insight in to the race during and after. This is the system that Mercedes use....

I'm not affiliated with this site in anyway

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