The Business of F1

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THE BUSINESS OF F1 raconteur.net 2 RACONTEUR 20 / 03 / 2016 COMMERCIAL FEATURE What unique IT challenges does Williams face? The biggest challenge that we have is the constant need to im- prove, and to innovate, to remain ahead of the competition. The team that works on the car is used to this, of course, and so this is expected across the board from everyone at the company. Race tracks also tend to have very little IT infrastructure in place prior to a race, so we need a fl exible partner, such as BT, who we can trust to get the job done to a high standard in a short space of time. How important is IT to Formula 1? The right IT infrastructure is critical to our success because COMMERCIAL FEATURE W hen BT joined forces with Williams Martini Racing a year ago, it was clear from the start that they were a perfect match – two classic British brands which combine speed and technology in their quest for success. Despite the obvious synergies, it was BT's fi rst foray into Formula 1 and is the start of an exciting collaboration between the two companies. This is not simply a sponsorship deal, but a true partnership designed to re- turn Williams to the top of the podium. "Our partners are our lifeblood," says deputy team principal Claire Williams. "Without them, we don't go racing." And in a short time BT has made itself an integral part of the line-up. The partnership comes at a crucial stage in the team's history. With 16 world champi- onships and 114 grand prix victories, Williams is F1's third most successful team. However, by its own admission, 2013 was its worst year ever on track, scoring a mere fi ve points and managing no race fi nish higher than eighth. For a team that had dominated F1 in the 1980s and 1990s, it was a wake-up call. Williams resolved to change everything around. In the wake of that season, a new leadership team came together and put in motion a series of plans to make some big changes at the team, resulting in structur- al improvements, a new engine partner, Mercedes, and new personnel, including new drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas. A proactive strategy to connect with strong new partners was also instituted with a focus on brands that would support the team's technical and digital transformation. It was this programme that brought BT in to collaborate around how technology could support the team's ambitions. "BT has played a really important part in our transformation," says Ms Williams. "When we started this in 2013, the big part we were missing was the digital part. We discovered that in an industry which is so fast moving and so reliant on data, we had allowed our IT capabilities to fall behind. "The technologies and services that they have provided to us have already had a ma- jor impact on our performance and we can see this on the race track." In the world's most technologically ad- vanced sport, data is king. BT enables mem- bers of the Williams Martini Racing team to communicate and collaborate with any team member wherever they are in the world – at the race track, in the race operations room or even working remotely – which is key, given current Formula One Management rules that restrict the number of engineers allowed to be trackside during a race. BT's end-to-end global IP infrastructure facilitates secure high-speed communica- tion between team members at the track with engineers as far as 10,000 miles away in the team's factory in Grove, Oxfordshire. Thanks to BT, huge quantities of data can be shared and analysed in real time from race tracks in locations ranging from Melbourne to Montreal and São Paulo to Singapore. It's a highly competitive environment. Each F1 car is fi tted with around 200 sensors which send out real-time information. These sensors measure everything from engine performance to fuel levels to oil tempera- ture and tyre pressure. Teams predict their fi nishing positions long before the lights go out and the team often knows that a car is about to suœ er a problem several laps before anything becomes visible to TV viewers. "I don't believe you can ever have too much data," says Ms Williams. "Data is what helps us win. The data that we receive from the car, and how our people interpret that data and develop the car, is what separates us from the competition." Williams is now enjoying its best run of performance since the early-2000s and with 13 podium places in the last two sea- sons, it is looking to continue pushing for- ward. Speed is everything in F1, both on and oœ the track. Data must be analysed quickly to give the driver an opportunity to react to it, and information that shaves just a few thousandths of a second oœ a lap time can make the diœ erence between winning and losing a race. BT's network plays a crucial part in this, allowing the team to run up to 1,000 race simulations per minute. It also enables quicker remote access to information, and improves the performance and reliability of demanding computing processes, including applications which rely on video, telemetry and voice. As a result, the team can now interrogate its remote systems and export the required information to the race track in a matter of minutes, allowing for re- al-time decision-making. The new network infrastructure has been further optimised through the deployment of WAN acceleration capabilities, remov- ing latency issues and helping the teams prioritise certain data so that the most im- portant data is always processed fi rst. The infrastructure is also intelligent, self-heal- ing, and enables streaming of high volumes of data across multiple datacentres and numerous device types. This is important for Williams Martini Racing's IT team which needs the right infrastructure to transport, store, secure and analyse the enormous vol- umes of data generated at each race. After the race, updates are made to the car based on analysis of the data, which means the car on the grid at the end of the season can be substantially better than the one that lined up at the fi rst race. As each team makes improvements, its rivals are also changing their own car, so the ability to an- alyse data quickly and accurately is critical. Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Group, says: "This is a partnership that al- lows us to showcase and test our technology in the most demanding of conditions. It is a great way to demonstrate to our customers what technology can bring to their business, but we are also learning more about what we are capable of ourselves." Across the 2015 race season, 2.5 ter- abytes of car and video analysis data was transferred by the Williams Martini Rac- ing team, equivalent to more than 4,300 HD television programmes. BT's network securely carries up to 140GB of this data per race at speeds of 100Mbps. BT's faster network connection makes a tangible dif- ference during the race weekend and devel- opments such as real-time video analysis of pit stop practice have enabled quicker de- cisions that can improve car performance. Prior to Williams joining forces with BT, video analysis of pit stop and practice per- formance had to be conducted overnight. Computation of some performance data has improved by 200 times. Constant improvement is necessary in F1 to stay ahead of the competition. "Technol- ogy in the past ten years in Formula 1 has re- ally moved along, and now it's all about the new technologies that a team can develop and bring to the race," says Ms Williams. BT is playing a crucial part in that. In Grove, BT provides a campus LAN to ensure a stable high-capacity service across the entire Williams operation, from the analysts working in the heart of the race support room to non-racing services, such as the team's conference centre and sister company, Williams Advanced Engineering, which is located on the same site. The capability to carry big data is particu- larly important for operations of the team's wind tunnel which, according to Formula One Management rules, can only be oper- ated a limited number of times per season. This means that every session has to pro- duce the maximum amount of feedback and data about the car's aerodynamics. And it's not just about high-tech solu- tions that wouldn't be found in an ordinary o¢ ce. BT One Phone was recently installed at Grove to give Williams staœ the function- ality of their desk phones from a mobile. The team's drivers have also felt the dif- ference. Brazilian Massa, an 11-times race winner and one of the most experienced drivers on the grid, notes that nowadays, when he climbs out of the cockpit, he is im- mediately presented with all the analytical reports he needs for the team debrief. "From my perspective, the diœ erence be- tween before and now is that when I come into the garage after a session, everything is already on the screen – the data is there to analyse," he says. "Also, during a race, the pit team can see any mistakes straight away, like if I brake too early or too late. I can't hide anything!" Q&A SESSION WITH GRAEME HACKLAND GRAEME HACKL AND It's a big change from when he fi rst joined F1 back in 2002, but one which continues to encapsulate the ethos of the sport. "It's all about speed," says Massa. "The messages that we give to the team and the messag- es they send us back need to be the fastest possible. We are not here to participate. We are here to win." BT's technology connects everyone at the team, from Massa and Bottas to the junior mechanics. "Team work is absolutely critical to what we do," says Ms Williams. "Success comes from a really great group of people who work well together, and can communicate and collaborate eœ ectively." One of BT's most important roles is to pro- vide a platform which enables the passionate team members to perform at their optimum level. "Our role is all about enabling the peo- ple at Williams Martini Racing to be the best they can be and to deliver the best perfor- mance," says Mr Patterson. "Technology on its own doesn't win races. It's how it gets used that makes things really exciting." It's experience which will enable BT to im- prove its services to benefi t clients in other areas of its business. It works with compa- nies in diverse sectors, including engineer- ing, healthcare and aviation, which all re- quire real-time connectivity to solve critical problems. The experience with Williams will boost what BT can oœ er clients. Ms Williams is in no doubt the partnership has already been a success. "I think it's in- credibly exciting to see where our partner- ship with BT is going to go in the future," she says. "We have a great platform from which to work, and we've already seen that the technologies BT has integrated within the racing environment have driven improved performance. It's enabled our engineers to work harder, to work smarter, and this is ex- actly what we need them to be doing if we are to close that gap." now we are moving data around the world – data that has been generated by a Formula 1 car going around a track at 300 kilo- metres per hour. Being able to move the data in real time, over a secure and reliable network, allows our engineers to work on that data and to feedback to improve the per formance of the car. What are your other key IT concerns? With around 650 people working at the company, the ma- jority of them based at our HQ in Grove, we need to support every one of them and all their com- munications, networking and re- mote-working requirements. Our campus network needs to be able to withstand high capacity data peaks so that when we are oper- ating our wind tunnel or receiv- ing data from the race track, this doesn't impact upon our day-to- day computing needs. What is the one thing that you always keep in mind when making IT decisions? Teams of our size in For- mula 1 need to be really clever about where to direct invest- ment and resources, and the thing I always ask myself is "will it make the car go faster". If it makes the car go faster, then we do it, and if it's not contribut- ing to that in some way, then we don't do it – it's that simple. In fact, for all types of businesses there is the equivalent of "mak- ing the car go faster" and tech- nology should be driving that. RACING ON THE INFORMATION SUPER HIGHWAY BT is helping Williams Martini Racing improve the speed of its digital technology and data processing This is a partnership that allows us to showcase and test our technology in the most demanding of conditions 21 grand prix races around the world 200 sensors on a Formula 1 car sending out real- time information 140GB of data generated each race at speeds of 200Mbps of car and video analysis data transferred by Williams Martini Racing during the 2015 season 2.5TB Williams Martini Racing IT director

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