Driving success: Formula One's data revolution

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Everyone has heard of Formula One. Whether you’re a long-standing fan, or a new admirer thanks to the popular docuseries, you can’t deny the commitment or dedication from the drivers and their teams. 

During each race, data is recorded, analysed and implemented instantly to help improve a driver’s performance, and this got us thinking… How much data is collected per weekend? It’s safe to say, a lot of data is used to gain insights with the aim to improve overall performance. 

Without going into too much detail (yet…):
-    A single car can generate up to 3GB of data per lap
-    Per weekend, one car can generate up to one terabyte of data 
-    Simulation software can use up to one petabyte of data per year 

There are four types of data collected per race: telemetry, simulation, performance, and driver; all of which serves a different purpose, and benefits teams in different ways. We wanted to learn more about how the data is used, and so we’ve delved into the data types, and how each benefits F1 teams. 

Telemetry data

Every race car in F1 is equipped with sensors that collect data, over 250 in some cases, and all of these collect information on acceleration, breaking, speed and fuel consumption. Each race weekend, 160 terabytes of data is generated. This data ultimately allows teams to understand exactly how their cars and drivers are performing, comparing statistics to previous races and analysing these for continuous improvement. 

Simulation data

Traditionally, F1 simulations focus on the driver and the track. Simulation allows teams to try different weather conditions, track layouts and fuel loads, which in turn allows for different strategies to be trialled as well as performance predictions. The data collected is used to assist and influence Engineers and their decision-making process. 

Engineering teams for each driver review the data and see what pieces of information can be found to improve speed for next time. Simulations can sometimes involve more data than a race weekend, and the amount of data collected is overwhelming. But that’s where the best Engineers are distinguished; they can prioritise information and assess the right data as quickly as possible. 

Performance data

Every F1 team collects performance data of their cars and drivers during each race. From engine performance, to lap times, to tire wear – the data is collected. 

As this data is collected whether this is in qualifying or the race itself – the data gathered has the ability to give teams the upper-hand for their drivers. Big amounts of data, leads to thousands of informed decisions which can make or break a lap. 

And, it’s not only drivers that benefit from the data; race teams benefit hugely. Pit teams are testament to how data can make or break a race. Pit teams can change a tire in under two-seconds – this wouldn’t be possible without data. The complex the task requires precision, and the data collected is used to inform, and enhance this process. Without data, pit stops would be very different, and drivers can lose a race due to a pit stop delay.

Engineers and mechanics receive specialist feeds in real time to impact the race at hand, but all data is stored securely on a server where the wider team can access it. 

With big data comes big decisions, and F1 teams are using it to form crucial decisions that enable them to have a competitive advantage over rivals. With cloud computing, predictive analytics, predictive intelligence, machine learning, and prescriptive intelligence, the sports future is being positively impacted. 
 

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