Extreme Analytics Fuels F1 Dreams

Burning rubber at 360 km/h, making decisions in nanoseconds, and fending off challenges from rival drivers at the same time. Welcome to today's Formula One (F1).

F1 is no longer only about drivers’ bravado and the engineering marvel of a car. They count. But behind the man and the machine is a collective genius with data being the glue.

Often the road to championship glory begins not at the starting line but the factory line. Historical and test data help to calibrate the engineering of the cars at the factory. Data is also used to create scenarios, determine best race strategies and identify the best theoretical configurations even before the vehicle leaves the factory.

At the race track, it is not fuel but data that powers F1 racing. Real-time data during the race allows the driver, team leads, pit crews and factory engineers to uncover nano-second-shaving advantages together. The same data streams monitor the drivers as they experience punishing G-forces that rival what astronauts feel at blast off.

Holistic Data Analytics

The impact of data is felt right at the design stage. "The way cars are designed today is increasingly digital. The team has very limited time to test the designs, so they rely on data analytics. This has increased the importance of data and is essentially digital transformation," Thomas Been, CMO, TIBCO Software Inc

As a key technology partner for the four-time FIA Formula One™ World Constructors’ Champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team, TIBCO is committed to extracting every bit of advantage from the data by putting the car and its driver at the center of all decisions.

TIBCO data solutions accelerate the design and manufacturing cycle. “An interesting fact is that the car even before it is assembled has run more than 750,000 km in a digital world through simulations. So when it is launched, the physical car has been designed and optimized in the digital world.”

Been noted that many industries already adopt this approach. Manufacturing, healthcare, financial services and construction already use extensive modeling before releasing products and services. Soon, he noted, using analytics will be standard practice for all businesses.

Throttling Focus

Every F1 race car is an IoT platform, with over 300 sensors and 10,000 data components. A typical race weekend will see the car produce over 500GB of data.

To make sense of the data deluge, the Motorsport team uses a System of Insight based on TIBCO products, including TIBCO StreamBase, TIBCO Spotfire, TIBCO Live Datamart, and TIBCO Data Virtualization. Beyond just visualization and real-time monitoring, it allows the various stakeholders to collaborate and take the right actions immediately to hone their advantage.

Primarily, the System of Insight helps the entire team to focus on what matters: the car and the driver. No longer are both alone on the race track; they are now tethered to a larger team who can offer valuable feedback and help the driver take the appropriate actions.

"This is important. An engineer may see a dataset differently from the driver," Been said. He noted that "the real benefits come" when you combine the different points of view and allow collaboration between the various team members.

While the characteristics and pressures of F1 are unique, the TIBCO solutions aren’t. “They are using our standard offerings. And they allow the engineers to easily connect to and interact with multiple sources of data without having to wait for reports. So they have a similar experience to what all our customers have,” Been said.

Intelligence is the Game Changer

The future of F1 lies in machine intelligence. Been noted that TIBCO is helping the F1 team to use machine intelligence to improve data analytics and drive optimization.

“All F1 teams have plenty of data. But how you map them to processes for creating the best car and making the right decisions will be the real game-changer. This is where machine intelligence will play a larger role and be the next frontier,” Been said. 

Will machine intelligence replace the need to have a skilled driver? “No. It is only meant to augment the team and driver. It will ensure that the driver is more informed than ever and able to tap into the collective knowledge of the team. But it is no replacement of the driver,” Been said. 

Thomas Been
Thomas Been, CMO, TIBCO Software Inc sees data analytics platforms becoming a competitive differentiator at F1.