Data First

How Data Comes in First for Formula 1 Racing

Explore how Formula 1 uses data-driven strategies for a competitive edge, leveraging real-time insights and cloud tech for winning results.

Formula 1 is one of the most data-driven sports in history. Long before the term “data” became everyday vernacular, Formula 1 teams have been pioneers in leveraging advancements in computers to gain a competitive advantage.

Today’s modern race cars record hundreds of channels of data that can then be reviewed by engineers after the race. Modern F1 cars boast an impressive 300 sensors which generate a staggering 1.1 million telemetry data points per second to be transmitted back to the pits. During any given race weekend, 160 terabytes of data are sent between the remote race circuit and the F1 Media and Technology Center located in Biggin Hill, England.1

Otmar Szafnauer, CEO and Team Principal at Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One, emphasizes the significance of data analysis in the sport: "Formula One teams have always been pioneers in analyzing data for a competitive advantage, especially when milliseconds mean the difference between pole position and starting somewhere in the middle of the pack"1.

When it comes to using data-driven insights to fuel victory and enhance performance, Formula 1 racing has once again come in first.

Formula 1 Uses a Data First Approach to Take the Checkered Flag

1.     High-Speed Insights

On or off the raceway, the ability to make informed decisions based on real-time data can be the difference between victory and defeat. In a sport where winning is measured in fractions of a second, the ability to make split-second decisions based on the analysis of real-time and historical data gives the team a competitive advantage. Real-time telemetry data is streamed across the world when the car is on the circuit, so engineers can collaborate on analysis and share simulation data within seconds between the factory and the track.

In Formula 1 racing, speed is the name of the game and useful development data needs to be produced and delivered during the short but intense practice sessions held on Grand Prix weekends. The result is a new level of visibility, where data informs both technology and the strategy, and proving the crucial difference between winning and second place.

2.    Accessible, Visible, Usable Data

Highly sophisticated cloud-based data analysis and simulation platforms enable every single engineer within the team to leverage historic and real-time systems data, unifying access to a wide variety of data. On-the-road engineers have access to data, simulation, and analysis tools to optimize the car’s performance at the next event, while groups at base can quickly run complex simulations using data from a variety of sources. Specialist software such as SAP HANA allows engineers to search thousands of laps of data for exactly the right piece of information they need to help them with performance in a race weekend.

Because all this data can be accessed in the same way, new exploratory and data analysis tools are becoming an inherent part of the sport. Data management platforms  are providing a foundation for specialized, high-performance data applications for specific engineering disciplines. Virtually every engineering group within the team – from suspension to brakes, and chassis, to race engineers – have their own dedicated suite of software tools that help analyze the data that is most important to them.

3.   Unflinching Precision

The difference between first and last place isn’t always as dramatic as it sounds; the slowest cars in Formula 1 are only around 6% slower than the front-runners. In a sport where winners are measured in milliseconds, even the smallest detail, insights, and figures must be 100% accurate and up-to-date. In this fast-paced sport, the precision and speed at which data is collected, analyzed, and utilized is a tactical advantage.

4.    Open Road for Innovation & Scale

Successful Formula 1 teams distinguish themselves by their ability to interpret data swiftly and implement improvements promptly. The integration of computers into Formula 1 has transformed the sport, enabling teams to push the boundaries of simulation, development, and analysis technology. And because F1 racing teams have always been leading the pack when it comes to putting Data First, they’re poised to experiment with artificial intelligence. From the culture to the infrastructure, the importance of insight-ready data is already embedded into the sport. Continuous innovation in AI-generated reports is already revolutionizing how teams compete in motorsport, paving the way for real-time performance enhancements.

5.     Rightsizing the Load

In Formula 1 racing and other autosports, weight reduction is critical to competitive advantage. Beyond the apparent benefits of making the race car go faster, high-performance vehicles powered by computing prowess also free up power for further computational capabilities. Rightsizing the strain on resources can mean swapping out outdated, legacy systems in place of sleeker, high-quality tools, or archiving and decommissioning parts altogether.

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Using Data as the Formula to Win 

In today’s high-performance race car, data is proving to be the key to victory. Formula 1's commitment to data-driven decision-making has not only reshaped the sport but has also propelled teams to new heights of performance, demonstrating the potential of technology and innovation in the pursuit of the checkered flag. As Formula 1 continues to evolve, data will remain the driving force behind every turn, straightaway, and triumph. It is the key to unlocking performance, gaining a competitive edge, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible on and off the track.

  1. Data Center Frontier,

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