Formula 1 racing is a high-technology, extreme sport. It is the ultimate high-pressure environment. Racing engineers - those behind-the-scenes strategists whose split-second decisions during race weekends can make the difference between winning and losing - demand as much from their IT tools as from every other tool used in the pit and in the garage.
In the case of Marussia Virgin Racing (MVR), cutting-edge IT is a fundamental aspect of the car itself. MVR's digitally-designed car has aerodynamics designed entirely by using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD ) without the use of wind tunnels. To give you an idea of the importance of aerodynamic design, small planes can take off at slower speeds than F1 cars travel on the track.
After a 2010 debut season MVR has launched its 2011 challenger - the MVR-02. The new car is a clear step forward in every area.
The pioneering spirit behind the MVR-02 is shared by UST Global, MVR’s IT services partner and the tools we provide to enhance Virgin Racing's performance on the track. With our expertise in GPS, high-end computing, and analytics, UST Global has developed trackside tools that allow MVR race engineers to optimise strategic decisions by giving them a clear overview as the race unfolds.
During the 2011 season, we will be looking at each race and discussing the roles that these tools played in the MVR team's strategy, engineering decisions, and outcomes. But before the season begins, we'll take a couple of columns to give you an inside look at how these tools work.
There are three key trackside tools. The Race Dashboard, the Pit Chat Communicator and the Brake Management System.
The Race Dashboard is used by the team of engineers back in the garage. Each car has an engineer for performance, control, electronics, and the engine. In addition, there is a Chief Engineer and a Chief Performance Engineer.
Each of these people monitors two large screens and two small screens. There are more screen still in the Pit Lane, where key people sit to watch the race. Here is what they are getting and what they can do:
GPS, Video and Audio: Live video feeds of F1 race data are shown in user-configurable screen layouts with the ability to pause and rewind the stream.
Strategy: The relative positions of all the cars on the track are displayed on a map. A 'ghost car' on the dashboard allows for 'what if' scenarios to perfectly time re-entry after pit stops.
Data Analysis: Speed traces from competitors is analyzed and used to compare the MVR-02 to the rest of the field in key performance areas.
Launch Analysis: The dashboard provides an analysis of the race start performance of each competitor in the race.
Review: From the dashboard, race engineers replay the whole weekend of video, audio, and GPS information as a review process.
Post by Rene Torcato, MVR race engineering IT project manager and Mary Lee Morgan, UST Global