Sensors working overtime

While the romantics in us love to focus on the visceral thrill of F1 – the heroism of the drivers, the risk and reward of an on-the-limit overtaking move or an all-or-nothing throw of the strategic dice on the pitwall – the truth is that grand prix racing is as much about process as it is about moments of inspired performance.

And at the heart of the process is information. It's the kind of information that helps the team find the optimum levels of performance at each circuit in the prevailing conditions. It's data that allows our engineers to unlock that performance and provide the drivers with a car that allows them to prove they are the best in the world.

In modern F1 there's no shortage of information to choose from and each car is fitted with hundreds of sensors. That's a huge amount of information to sift through but the key to putting the team on-track towards victory is just that – effectively analysing the data, defining solutions and getting it all done in double-quick time. In order to fine-tune that process, we've now teamed up with Kx, a company specialising in complex data handling. Kx technology is able to capture, integrate and analyse vast quantities of data to provide real-time actionable insight.

Kx's expertise lies in the rapid capture of a huge array of data streams in real time – just the sort of thing that an F1 team needs when dealing with the ever-changing nature of car performance depending on car status or track conditions.

The in-memory, time series database software to be utilised by the team is capable of handling millions of events and measurements every second, as well as petabytes of historical data, to produce analysis that will enable the team to construct the perfect platform for the analysis of the RB14 and its successors.

"Formula One is a data-driven sport, absolutely," said Matt Cadieux. "The process of developing a car across a season and finding performance over a race weekend comes down to having the right information in hand.
"At its most immediate that means taking the data that comes off the car, learning the lessons from it, and then translating the findings into real performance gains at the track. In the wider application, it's about understanding the information coming from the wind tunnel, from CFD and from all of the other simulation tools at the team's disposal."

Initially, Kx will be deployed for the capture of wind tunnel data, a critical element in the development of faster, more competitive cars before being utilised for handling real-time in-race data to improve analysis capabilities.