Tech And Travel Lessons From Formula 1 Racing

The F1 Australian Grand Prix has concluded in Melbourne for another year, and the teams have started packing up for round two in Malaysia next weekend. A glimpse of the technology used in the sport provide some interesting insights that you can adapt for your own life.

Main picture by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

During my visit to the F1 on the weekend, I was lucky enough to get a tour of the pits for the Red Bull team right before the beginning of their first practice session. I'm not a motorsports fanatic at all, but the setup did demonstrate the value of planning and what can be achieved with teamwork. (And it seems to work well for Red Bull, with Sebastian Vettel placing 2nd and Mark Webber placing 4th.)

Data measurements is key

Each trip made by a car results in around 800MB of data, covering everything from engine performance to how much water the driver drinks. A tiny amount of that data ends up used by broadcasters and on specialised mobile hardware to track race results, but much of it is only used by the racing teams. You might not go to that extent, but graphing your life can be valuable.

High-speed networking is helpful

That data is analysed both trackside and by the main Red Bull team in the UK. To ensure instantaneous access, the team uses a dedicated MPLS service from AT&T to send data globally. I shudder to think what the bill is.

Working with constraints can be productive

As the name suggests, Formula One cars have to be built to an agreed (and ever-evolving set of rules), covering everything from the weight of the car (complete with driver in it) to the number of engines which can be used in a season (currently eight). Some constraints are imposed by safety; others are designed to ensure a better spectator sport. The end result, however, is that the teams have to focus on the areas where they can make a real difference to performance, rather than simply adopting a "that'll do" approach.

Avoiding customs makes life easier

The Red Bull team has to ship 28 tonnes of gear from country to country on a rapid basis. To speed up the process, equipment is essentially treated as not being in the country it has landed in, avoiding customs issues and holdups.

Not needing to change adaptors is helpful

I couldn't help noticing pitside that all the power outlets for connecting testing gear and other equipment have standard UK plugs — no need to use adaptors in different locations.

Multiple monitors are good, but so is full screen

On both sides of the track there are multiple monitors with vehicle performance data and information. This is a multiple-monitor setup, but each display runs just one set of data full-screen — there's no overlapping windows and no wallpaper.

Disclosure: Angus Kidman travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Infiniti.


    I hate you kidman... Next time, bring a lucky reader or something. Backpass access to F1, like a wet dream for me.

    Can we get a clarification on the 'customs' point? How is it treated as 'not in country'?

    Sounds like a temporary import;

    Would love to know how the stuff gets here and gets out, thats a big task for the air freighters etc.

    Next time I go to BALI i'll claim my boogie bag as 'temporary import'...

      LoL! Good one!

    The F1 Circus has some epic logistics requirements, several dedicated 747's. Several sets of race equipment to leapfrog races and go by sea transport etc.

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