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Formula 1 has always been a technology-driven sport. Behind every car tearing up the circuit at 200+ mph is a team of engineers and scientists competing to wrangle every advantage, leveraging the latest innovations in data, analytics, and high-performance computing. As Christian Horner, CEO of Oracle Red Bull Racing, says, “Data is in the team’s lifeblood. Every element of performance – how we run a race, how we develop a car, how we select and analyse drivers – it’s all driven by data.”

Computational Fluid Dynamics

A car’s aerodynamics is one of the most important factors when it comes to performance on the track. Modelling the way that airflow interacts with the car as it travels at speed is part of a field of study known as computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Conducting sophisticated studies of this element of the car’s performance is a key use case for technology in F1 today. Data is collected from cars as they take part in real race and practice sessions – with the average car fitted with over 300 sensors and transmitting around 3 GB of telemetry data per race1.

Regulated Car Design and Data Analytics

The reason performance data and analytics are so important is that many aspects of Formula One car design are regulated by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). That makes data the X factor for every competitor trying to go faster and shatter records. That kind of performance attracts legions of fans to Formula One racing, including younger enthusiasts in the United States. But this article is less about racing and far more about the data behind it.

McLaren’s Unusual Use Case

What makes McLaren an unusual use case is the small scale of its new data analytics team. McLaren Group has about 4,000 employees, with about 800 on its McLaren Racing team, but only three dedicated analysts working across the company. “On a Monday, I could be working on tire degradation and on a Friday helping to produce a better marketing strategy,” says Jessica “Jess” Tomkins, a technical analyst at McLaren Racing2. It shows it doesn’t take an army to deliver strong value in data & analytics, but ensuring those players who you have in your team are the best of the best.

Formula 1 technology isn’t just about speed; it’s about pushing boundaries and creating solutions that benefit us all – whether we’re on the racetrack or commuting to work. And data technologies play a pivotal role in achieving those goals.

About the Author

Deren Ridley

Head of Project Solutions

Deren joins Orbition Group as the Head of Project Solutions. His role involves working closely with our customers to drive the successful delivery of our services across Talent Advisory, Solutions, Intelligence and Branding.  Read more.

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