It's probably an immeasurable marketing exercise, but Compaq resellers probably enjoyed their best branding awareness opportunity for a long time when the Compaq-sponsored BMW/Williams F1 team rolled into Melbourne earlier this month.
Apart from the spectacular exit by Ralf Schumacher, team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya managed a podium finish. Both drivers featured on all TV stations and the front pages of just about every paper in the country.
Compaq's involvement with the BMW/Williams F1 team stretches well beyond just slapping decals on the cars. Formula One racing is the most high-tech sport in the world with computing power playing a role in everything from design to the new "bi-directional telemetry", which allows the team to adjust engine and brake settings on the fly, based on the reams of data that is collected and collated as the cars circulate.
Compaq supplies the majority of information technology support to the team, including hardware, services and development support. The BMW/Williams F1 team uses Compaq Proliant servers, Evo PIII notebooks and iPaq handhelds, both at the track and in testing. It also uses Alpha/Tru 64-based supercomputers to crunch performance data and assist in complex computational fluid dynamics (CFD) processing. Formula One cars generate 80MB of data every 10 laps, but the CFD processing only keeps a supercomputer busy for hours, rather than the weeks it used to take.
Compaq professional services personnel also support the 10 people who work full-time on the team's IT infrastructure