Responsiveness of IT infrastructure can influence a race: Infiniti Red Bull Racing

F1 racing team shares its insight into how improved data speeds are helping drivers reduce lap times

Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne

Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne

IT’s role in running businesses is becoming increasingly crucial, but that importance is magnified in a precision based operation like an F1 racing team.

It may seem that the outcome of a race is entirely up to a driver and the vehicle they are driving, but Infiniti Red Bull Racing technical partnerships head, Alan Peasland, said IT is running behind the scenes.

In the case of Infiniti Red Bull Racing, the team is heavily reliant on a network operated by AT&T.

“During the actual Grand Prix races, the network enables immediate fault reporting and vehicle analytics before the driver has even started the race,” Peasland said.

“The team supplements vital data monitoring with the use of high definition videoconferencing, allowing them to immediately discuss and address any issues face-to-face.”

Expect the unexpected

Despite the high level of planning that goes into racing events by teams, Peasland admits that “anything can happen on the big day.”

For example, competitor Jenson Button made an illegal manoeuvre while overtaking Infinity Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber at the 2009 European Grand Prix in Spain, costing him his position.

Telemetry from the incident was needed to lodge a complaint to get Webber’s original place back, though the team took four laps to compile the information with its IT infrastructure at the time.

Peasland said this took approximately six and a half minutes, a duration that compromised Webber’s race even after the place was returned.

“We know now that with current network the team would have been able to transfer all the information required to lodge the complaint in less than a lap, or four times quicker,” he said.

“The size of the network, and the amount of data that we can now send between the factory and the track allows us to send more data far more quickly.”

Smooth operator

After the implementation of AT&T’s system, the team was able to test its efficiency during Sebastian Vettel’s first lap collision at the Brazilian race in 2012.

In that case, Peasland said the new network capabilities enabled the team to assess the impact on the car’s performance immediately and send instructions directly to the track ahead of the first pit stop.

Alterations were then swiftly made to reduce the risk of the damage worsening throughout the remainder of the race.

“During a race anything can happen, and the Brazilian race is a prime example of this,” Peasland said.

“It proves how important it is that the team is able to work together between the track and the HQ.”

Thanks to the team’s quick response during the already difficult race, Vettel managed to win the Championship title, his third for the team.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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