The battle for pole position: Hamilton, Vettel, Big Data, Analytics

Whilst Lewis Hamilton wrapped up the Formula One Driver’s Championship at the end of October at the Mexican Grand Prix, there were still another two races to complete. We were denied a final day of the season shoot-out, but this just points to the supremacy of the Mercedes Formula One team.

This weekend marks the final race weekend of the 2017 season. To mark the event staff writer Joshua Osborn takes a look at some of the Tech used by Mercedes in their latest championship-winning season…

Abu Dhabi is well known for a lot of things and their Formula 1 track is just one of them. With its long straights and tight corners, coupled with beautiful water views populated with glorious yachts, the Yas Marina circuit is nothing short of stunning. This weekend the Abu Dhabi brings to a close the 2017 season, a season where I’ve started to come back to the sport.

You see, when West sponsored McLaren and ‘The Flying Finn’ Mika Häkkinen seemed unstoppable I was really into Formula One – I loved the sound of the cars when I didn’t have to turn the television up to 50 just to hear them roar as they flew around at 200mph. For a number of years that love-affair with the sport has waned quite considerably: the rules and regulation changes certainly haven’t helped, what with the introduction of DRS and Turbo Engine, some of the fun seems to have been lost.

Lately, this passion has crept back in, but not for the reasons you may think. It’s the technology they use that holds my interest now. We all know the names: Räikkönen, Vettel, Hamilton, Ferrari, Force India and Mercedes. But what if I mentioned Rubrik, Pure Storage, or Qualcomm? You may have questions like, “how do they relate to Formula 1?” or, “I’ve not heard of those racers before?”!

Let’s take a closer look.

Rubrik describe themselves as, “a software-defined platform that unifies backup, instant recovery, replication, search, analytics, archival, compliance, and copy data management in one secure fabric across the data centre and cloud.

So how does this relate to Formula One?

They are a partner of Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning Mercedes Team. A critical role in any team is the ability to record and analyse a multitude of results, performance statistics and other volumes of race data. An equally critical role is keeping this data safe and that’s where Rubrik comes in. Mercedes recognises the growing importance technology has in the sport (and indeed the world), and the role that Cloud Computing plays. They use a multi-node Rubrik cluster to backup and recover their data volumes; the ultimate intention being to better utilise and manage the sheer vast amount of race data and stay one step ahead of the competition.

On to company number 2, Pure Storage: “The Pure Storage Data Platform is powered by software and hardware that’s effortless to use, efficient from end-to-end, and evergreen to upgrade. It’s got everything you need to drive industry-defining innovation and achieve business results that were previously unimaginable.”

Mercedes aims to bolster their IT performance and efficiency by utilising Pure Storage’s FlashArray //m which claims to be “simpler, faster and more elegant than any other technology in the datacentre”. This will only enhance their big data, real-time analytics and database systems capabilities.

Qualcomm are yet another Mercedes partner. They pioneered 3G/4G and now they’re looking to do the same with 5G by “allowing millions of devices to connect with each other in ways never before imagined.”

This brings us onto the Internet of Things (IoT), of course. This, at least to me, seems a lot more obvious in the ways Mercedes can gain an advantage over the competition. By having their devices communicating and updating each other in fractions of a second, this results in as close to real-time statistics as we can get right now. This will affect everyone from the pit crew to the driver themselves.

Much of the focus in Formula One is around the Driver’s Championship, and it’s always the name of the winning driver which has so much prominence. But, within the sport – as I’m sure every F1 aficionado will already know – it is the Constructor’s Championship that holds more importance. An F1 team isn’t just the drivers, nor is it just the drivers and the pit crew – an F1 team nowadays is made up of the hundreds of people directly employed by the team and reaches out into all its partners. In a sport in which the difference is measured in thousandths of a second, a team has to ensure that every available marginal gain is exploited. And that can only be done by working in tandem with top quality partners who lead and innovate in their own specialised fields.

As I watch the cars blast around the Yas Marina circuit tomorrow, I’ll try not to get too distracted by the yachts in the harbour. But I will be thinking of the evolution and revolution of tech used by the teams. Maybe I’ll even come up with an innovation myself that helps an F1 team gain a few thousands of a second. Maybe you will? I guess the question I really want answered is how many thousands does my hypothetical innovation need to save before I can buy one of those yachts for myself!

If you have any comments, or if you want to get in touch and talk tech, push the button below and follow me on Twitter.

I work for Compare the Cloud as programme manager. I enjoy cybersecurity, fintech and, on the less boring side of things, photography, trains (I said less boring, right?) and, like everyone else, music.

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