Formula 1 (F1) – the whole world knows it. Ten teams and 20 drivers race around over 20 tracks, reaching speeds of 230mph in the hopes of becoming the next world champion and scoring those all-important points for their teams.
There can only be one winner and with the final checkered flag waved, that is the F1 2023 season grinding to a halt. You can see how it ignites that competitive team spirit. Max Verstappen is now the one to beat, having been recognized as F1’s three-time world champion after his show-stopping performance for the third year running and joins racing legends who have achieved the same: Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.
In this highly competitive sport, where precision and speed reign supreme, the role of ERP solutions has grown to become vital for F1 teams in gaining that winning edge.
Driving success with data
Data makes the world go round and, in F1, data is now paramount to a team’s execution and success. A winning team is no longer just made up of a designer chassis and the skill of the driver; F1 now requires more in order to score points and win. Utilizing cutting-edge technology and partnering with Big Tech, F1 teams can, and have, adopted ERP solutions, cloud technology and more to gain valuable insights before, during and after a race and boost their teams’ chances against the competition.
I would now struggle to watch Formula 1 without those data-driven insights. It’s become a component part of my enjoyment of watching – Neil Ralph, AWS
On track, F1 is leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS) to enhance the performance of both vehicle and driver. This newfound partnership allows F1 to leverage high performance computing (HPC), ML and data analytics.
With HPC, F1 can run aerodynamic simulations to develop its next-generation car 70 percent faster and reduce downforce loss from 50 percent to 15 percent, giving the driver a higher chance of overtaking.
Neil Ralph, principal sports partnership manager at AWS has seen first-hand AWS’ partnership with F1 since its beginnings in 2018.
“The use of AI both in the team environment but also within Formula 1 is helping tell those stories or inform their strategy. So F1 insights and our use of ML have now been incorporated into the broadcast experience that we all know and hopefully you’re of the opinion that I am that I would now struggle to watch Formula 1 without those data-driven insights. It’s become a component part of my enjoyment of watching, that ML helps us to do those insightful stories using data,” says Ralph.
“Box! Box!” into the pitlanes
Scuderia AlphaTauri, previously known as Scuderia Toro Rosso, and one of two Red Bull-owned F1 teams, leverages Epicor to optimize operations and enhance performance improvement both on and off the track.
The team can automatically ‘unwind’ the data to earlier snapshots of the car structure to pinpoint potential component issues – Megan Blanchard, Epicor
Megan Blanchard, head of global brand, Epicor, says: “In a sport where the ten best constructors in the world compete to pair the fastest car with the best driver, F1 team Scuderia AlphaTauri requires real-time insights to engineer, manufacture and optimize a competitive race car.
“Each season, the team must design a new car that is even faster than the car designed for the previous season. Each racing car is made up of more than 14,000 precision components. Many of those parts are custom-made onsite by technical designers and engineers. Throughout the season, a complex logistics operation ensures 1,000 parts are shipped on time and intact to over 20 races around the globe.”
AlphaTauri is utilizing Epicor Kinetic to streamline production, correlate components with telemetry data and maximize vehicle performance. During testing, the team overlays telemetry data collected on the track from more than 900 sensors onboard both Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda’s cars which provide a precise and accurate insight into individual part performance, along with predictive analytics.
“The team can also automatically ‘unwind’ the data to earlier snapshots of the car structure to pinpoint potential component issues and ensure a problem is not replicated,” adds Blanchard.
Oracle serves as one of Red Bull Racing’s primary sponsors having signed a new title sponsorship reportedly worth around $500m in 2022, in a five-year deal. The F1 team leverages Oracle Cloud to get more out of its races with real-time race simulations, billions of which are Monte Carlo simulations, run using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to explore different scenarios and outcome probabilities before and during every race.
It helps us reduce our capital expenditure, giving access to state-of-the-art high performance computing technology in a pay-as-you-go model – Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Sauber Group
In its newest partnership, the Paddock recently welcomed Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and Sauber Motorsport AG (Alfa Romeo F1 Team). The pairing sees HPE advancing the aerodynamics of the F1 team’s race cars. The teams have developed an HPC system for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) which significantly increases computing performance compared to the previous system.
This HPC system is installed in the wind tunnel building of Sauber Motorsport AG in Hinwil, Switzerland, where HPE delivers supercomputing performance as a service utilizing HPE GreenLake, allowing Sauber’s engineers to adjust capacity in compliance with the rules of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
For Alessandro Alunni Bravi, managing director of Sauber Group and team representative, the way the partnership combines cloud and on-premises ERP seals the deal: “Computational fluid dynamics performance is crucial to success in F1 racing, however, there are also high demands with regards to scalability and data protection.
“HPE GreenLake perfectly matches these requirements because it combines the flexibility of the cloud with the control of an on-premises environment. Moreover, HPE GreenLake helps us reduce our capital expenditure by giving us access to state-of-the-art high performance computing technology in a pay-as-you-go model.”
Elsewhere, ServiceNow and Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team have also collaborated to enable the F1 team to operate and automate at the peak of performance and technology. Working as the team’s digital platform, ServiceNow helps to streamline the running of the AMR Technology Campus.
ServiceNow’s chief commercial officer, Paul Smith, speaks of the company’s partnership with the F1 team and says: “The ServiceNow platform helps organizations fundamentally change the way they operate.
“By combining tools, services and data on one single platform, Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team can drive faster decision making and greater efficiency. We are thrilled to be Aston Martin F1 Team’s ‘team behind the team’ as they continue their quest to be one of most technologically innovative sports teams on and off the racetrack.”
From Epicor to ServiceNow, the partnerships with ERP vendors deliver race-changing results for the F1 teams, season in, season out, and not only enhance the abilities of the teams behind the scenes but also the way fans engage with the sport.
Shaping the fan experience
Though F1 wouldn’t be the sport it is today without its technological advancements, you could argue that F1 fans truly drive and shape the experience for all ten teams and their drivers. For the technology teams behind the F1 action, improving the experience for the fans offers another big win from their implementations.
Leveraging next-generation technology such as AR and VR solutions is helping us to improve our operations and bring the fans closer to the sport – Chris Roberts, F1
On track and back at its home base, F1 leverages Lenovo’s technology and hardware devices as well as HPC and server solutions which are integrated throughout its operations.
Chris Roberts, IT director at F1, explains the reasoning: “The fans are at the heart of everything F1 does and we are committed to constantly improving their experience, while also finding innovative ways to connect with new and existing audiences all over the world. F1 fans expect the best from everything we do and Lenovo is the perfect partner to help us meet their expectations, thanks to its premium hardware offerings.
“From running powerful on-premises data collection solutions to producing higher quality content and supporting broadcast applications, up to leveraging next-generation technology such as AR and VR solutions, Lenovo is helping us to improve our operations and bring the fans closer to the sport.”
It’s a partnership that works to deliver a better experience for fans around the globe by running on-premises data collection solutions. It results in producing higher quality content and supports broadcast applications for the fans at home.
Everyone’s got to look at those small marginal gains. But when you’re dealing in something which is that fine a margin, data has got to show you – Ed Green, McLaren Racing
For Ed Green, head of commercial technology, and the team at McLaren Racing, Salesforce is deepening McLaren’s relationship with its global fanbase and keeping fans connected before, during and after the races through the use of Salesforce’s Customer 360 product suite.
Green shares: “I think Salesforce is quite interesting because there’s such a focus on engaging our fans, but also enabling the team. So, Salesforce is really about ‘how do we get better connected as a team?’ ‘How do we know more about our fans, our partners, our guests?’ and really enriching that sort of customer, fan and partner 360.”
Fans were also the focus for AWS’ launch of Alternative Strategy, the company’s 23rd F1 Insight over the last five years of working with F1, announced at the Austin, Texas Grand Prix. A new graphic, Alternative Strategy, provides fans and broadcasters with an alternative view of the racers and their teams’ decisions impacted by a race.
AWS’ Ralph shares how data plays a key role here: “When we put these insights out, we’re very cognizant of the fact we have a spectrum of fan understanding to serve. F1 is putting the same pictures out to every fan globally, right. We have one shot at giving that data-driven insight that serves that entire spectrum.”
Powered by AWS, F1 Insights work to deliver a dynamic fan experience differing from one race to the next, transforming the way data is delivered to millions of fans around the globe. Ralph speaks about Alternative Strategy and its insights, where a number are dedicated to race strategy and others analyze the competitors.
Using AWS’ cloud technologies, F1 can bring fans closer to the track, redesign the future of F1 cars and run analytics and ML to digitally transform F1.
For Ralph, ML and the data driving it has changed the game: “If we think about race strategy, what we’ve been able to do with our insights is take Formula 1 from what it used to be – which was a broadcaster that was able to show us pictures of what’s happening on track, give us a few data points about who’s winning the race [in] present time, give us a bit of an insight as to what’s happened in the past from a replay perspective – but [combine this] with our machine learning insights to be predictive about what’s going to happen in the near future, how the race might play out without giving the game away,” says Ralph.
The data apex
Looking at the whole F1 picture, data plays a crucial part in not only the fan experience but also in optimizing the performance on the track. Today, it shows, as the teams strategically utilize Big Tech to test the limits of both their cars and drivers. When milliseconds matter, having the right data and analytics tools really do add up.
“If you look at even Fernando and Sergio when they finished the race in Brazil, they are milliseconds apart or tenths of seconds apart,” says Green. “And when you break that into percentages, it’s like half a percent. You know, sometimes in qualifying, sometimes even between lap times in the grid is you know, level of four percent.
“So you have to use data to go and find those marginal gains and really look at it in that sense of how is everything going to add up together if I’m making the car one gram lighter, a little bit stronger, bit faster, more efficient, whatever it might be in your manufacturing process through to design process through the way we run and operate the race team,” finishes Green. “Everyone’s got to look at those small marginal gains. But when you’re dealing in something which is that fine a margin, data has got to show you where to find those improvements or how you can best measure yourself.”
As the pinnacle of motorsports, F1 and its teams are continuously looking to gain that extra bit of competitive edge to drive them to the top of the leaderboard. Data can make or break a team and, for now, Oracle Red Bull Racing has taken the lead, dominating the 2023 season. The new season welcomes new partnerships and a plethora of opportunities for F1 teams to leverage new technologies to drive success.
With its unpredictable nature, no one can know for certain how the 2024 season will play out, but one thing is for sure – teams will leverage Big Tech to steer their results. Here’s to the 2024 season being bigger and better than ever.
Image credit: Jacob Niblett, Shutterstock Studios