Statistical Data Analysis

Data-driven: How Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 uses tech

At technology conferences around the world there’s often plenty of talk of ‘velocity’ and ‘the need for speed’ but in the case of Formula 1’s Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team, going faster really is of the essence. The circus that is F1 today sees cars travelling at up to more than 200 miles per hour on twisting, turning circuits that place enormous demand on precision engineering and driver concentration and control.

It’s a sport that attracts many techies, understandably, and ICT plays an important part in how teams fare around the world. This is a data-driven world where being able to identify causes of failure or sub-optimal performance is hugely important to the performance and safety of these amazing aerodynamic machines, honed through perpetual design changes and constant testing. Less cosmetically exciting, it’s also ICT that underpins the complex logistics of this sporting moveable feast.

Of course, F1 teams are early adopters of technology and Mercedes-AMG Petronas can generate 45 terabytes of data per week in race driving, simulations and testing; CFD alone can account for 30TB of that. A car that’s far fully loaded for testing might have 200 to 300 sensor units, some with multiple sensors in one unit, generating millions of data points per race weekend. One of the team’s SQL databases might have a couple of hundred million rows in a season.

I spoke recently to Matt Harris, head of IT at the team, about some of the work the company is doing, often alongside tech partners including Tibco and Pure Storage.


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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