Mercedes unveil new plan to go three times as fast
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Apr 2013   |  12:08 pm GMT  |  112 comments

While they work behind the scenes on their car ahead of the start of the European season, Mercedes is aiming to be three times faster than the opposition when it comes to the increasingly important area of transferring data from the car at the race track to the factory and back again.

And a new deal announced today could ultimately lead to F1 teams taking smaller numbers of staff to the race track in future.

Mercedes has become the first F1 team to follow the lead of Formula One Management, which signed a deal last year with Tata Communications, for fixed line connectivity at every track on the F1 calendar. In time it is thought that the world-feed TV signal could be carried via the company’s fibre optic cable ring around the world, rather than satellites.

As far as Mercedes are concerned, the new deal will allow them to to transfer real-time data from the cars at any Grand Prix location to the factory in Brackley, three times faster than at present. The improved trackside connectivity will enable the team to react more quickly to developments at the track and will help to increase car performance, according to Team Principal Ross Brawn,

“Formula One relies on data and the ability to transfer our data from the track back to our factories in Brackley and Brixworth quickly and securely,” he said. “The Tata Communications global network will play a key role in the team’s performance and our ability to react over the race weekends. That we will now be able to achieve our data transfer requirements three times faster is fantastic.”

High speed connectivity at race tracks is an area where there is a lot of growth to come, not just for F1’s TV coverage and for teams, but for fans as well. Being able to use second screens and other wi-fi powered devices while sitting in the grandstands will ultimately enhance the fan experience, opening doors to greater interactivity with teams and drivers during race weekends.

For F1 teams another benefit of the arrival of fixed line connectivity is that it will allow them to have fewer people travelling to races, which is very expensive. As Lotus Technical director James Allison observed on the JA on F1 Podcast #5 last year, “Many of the (engineer) roles at the circuit don’t actually need to be at the circuit, other than because currently that’s where the data is and that’s where the information is.

“So having a fat enough communication pipe back to your factory allows you the opportunity to place that engineering support back in the factory rather than at the circuit. And that saves a lot of money in terms of travelling people around the world.”

Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director, F1 Business, Tata Communications added that it the deal with Mercedes is an example of a telco coming in as a partner of an F1 team and actually making the car go faster, “The modification and improvement of car set-up and handling is a constant during the race season and being able to share richer data and report issues back from trackside to the factory in real-time provides a competitive edge in car performance, both in speed and also in handling and stability.

“By providing three times faster connectivity for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS via Tata Communications’ global network means that the team has access to secure and agile trackside connectivity regardless of race location – showcasing our expertise and speed to lead when it comes to global connectivity, and reinforces our ongoing commitment to technology innovation within Formula One.”

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It will be interesting to see the benefits, if any. We live in an age of data. It’s never been cheaper, but information still comes at a premium. I have a feeling the difference between the front running teams and the rest is the ability to glean the information from the data. So far, there isn’t any technology that can do that.


Mercedes are a solid top four F1 team at the moment. They need any advantage they can get.

Those mid-fielders, McLaren are struggling to keep pace with Force India at the moment. Teams have to innovate or risk sinking down the order.


A bit disappointed by the misleading headline. It suggests something else, but the content is completely different !

Not that I won’t have read the article had it said its about technology and not misled me into believing its about going three times as faster on the TRACK !


Like many things in F1, this is mostly marketing – but there is a grain of truth to it.

Bandwidth is currently limited by the transfer rate between the car and trackside computers, and that’s not going to change.

As long as cars cannot be adjusted remotely but teams rely on spoken radio messages to communicate with the car and driver, satellite latency between the pit wall and the factory is also no really big issue – but a move from satellite (round trip latency around 1s) to land based connection (round trip latency less than 0.1s) could still mean that strategy calls based on computer models get to drivers about a second faster. There are race situations where this makes a difference, and where decisions that previously had to be made at the trackside can now be made at the factory.


if service goes down there goes the race. Reliability is key and not relying on infrastructure that can go south makes a lot of sense. That is why we still see pit boards.


Nice article- I .It’s unbelievable that people ask how the data is currently sent when you clearly stated- satellite. Fact is if you have 1 meg or 100mb will always be faster with a fixed line fibre optic cable. Satellites are not fixed and therefore you cannot retain the same signal strength whilst the data is travelling further via broader space.this making it much less reliable also. Great news as F1 needs to see greater cost cutting measures like this.

It will be fantastic to be able to carry devices fed with live feeds at the track with more information. Save you running for the big screens when your at the track or watching it on the Internet if its televised live

Grayzee (Australia)

The advantages listed here are not enough to warrant such a headline. And don’t be telling me it’s about having less people at the track because they cost so much to fly around the world! Good Lord, the car costs would be much higher. One front wing costs 10s of thousands of dollars, and they update these nearly every race. Nup!

So, maybe it’s just a media beat up to take the pressure of the tyre issues they are having? There is more to it than meets the eye! Either that, i’m getting paranoid in my old age. 🙂


Whaaaaaaaaaaa! I got caught by the headline….if it’s the car Nico and Lewis will be in the boat drinking champagne before the others cross the finish line.

Good one James. LOL.


James sorry to go off topic, but this questions been bugging me. Had Alonso’s DRS broken at Monza could he have continued the race with it wide open legally?


If he had come in, and they couldn’t get it back into place, they could not have sent him out, if that’s what you’re asking. And if he had activated it, and they knew it was wrong, he couldn’t have kept going around. When it first happened, he kept going for I think three laps (which was remarkable in itself).

Who knows what radio communication was going on between driver and team, and team and Race Control, in that time. I’m sure RC told them that he would have to come in, or be black-flagged.


Hi James. Can you do an article on telemetry in F1?

I think it would be a good idea, especially as F1 is suddenly the darling of Big Data firms, just as Big Data is the new high tech buzz.


What Mercedes needs is cooling the damn heating tyres!

Tornillo Amarillo

“Three times faster… connectivity”!!!

I thought for the article’s headline it was the car… 🙂


The potential gains from this development are huge.

Why stop at leaving a few Engineers back at base?

With a few more updates which I think are already in the pipeline, it will possible to retain the whole team and cars back at base, and conduct the practice, quali and race on the simulators with graphics back up.

It would make a real contribution to reducing the sport’s carbon footprint, and most ‘fans’ would probably not notice.

Val from montreal

Anything to get headlines … Mercedes should realize that WINNING makes the most headlines of all …


To be fair, Mercedes do not write the headlines. People like James do.


3 times as fast eh? I’m sure they’ll successfully ramp up the speed to make it 2 times as fast, then concentrate on next year to make everything go 4 times as fast. Then for the next 3-5 years, the Brackley team will be stuck at twice the current speed, with them throwing away half of the year to work on the next year’s data transfer speeds, all the while being slower than any other team spending even half of what they spend.

Rinse and repeat for the nest 10 years. When the IT world finds the next big communication holy grail, Ross Brawn will find a loophole in the communication protocols and grab headlines while the rest of the paddock whines about the spirit of the protocols.

What a joke. They have again announced that 50% of their workforce will be working on the ’14 car by May. This is the one team that consistently has more people working on the next year’s car rather than the current car, EVERY YEAR.


When I read the headline I thought yippie, but came down to earth rather quickly when I realised it was simply data transfer. Fibre optic is good though, and the only answer so far in some quarter. However rather than say performance is power, I would say knowledge is power. For example if one knew just how to tweek Mercedes suspension geometry to reduce the energy input that really is power, and there will be those that know precisely the requirement like those bods at Lotus. I suspect it is the precise attitude of the tyre in relation the road surface in all three axes, and I also suspect it only needs very minor adjust to correct, but move it the wrong direction and one instantly makes it worse. Good luck to those at Mercedes.


Going off on a tangent …

James, can you explain how your 5 Live commentary, the FIA picture feed etc get to Joe Public at present. I watch RTL pictures in the UK with your 5 Live commentary from the internet when the BBC isn’t showing the race live. They are never in sync! But the delay varies – you can be anything from 5 secs to 30 secs behind, never in front. I can also watch on SkyGo (though I don’t) and that’s always at least a minute behind.

Is it because everyone is using different satellites? Is it processing speed? I would’ve thought it would take longer for all the data for RTL’s pictures to get to Germany, get processed, get sent back up to a satellite to come down to me, than your commentary to get to the BBC and get streamed out to the internet again. I’m confused!

Will your commentary be carried by Tata’s fibre optics? Will everything end up in sync?!?!


When we had analogue TV broadcasts it was live, ie: at the speed of light. With Digital we have a processing delay, which is about half a second, then the signal is sent at the speed of light, but can be processed again and again on some instances, this can add up to several seconds over multiple networks.


I have no idea how the race feed works because FOM controls the only feed for that and i have no idea what they do. But i imagine it involves satellites; and if you’re receiving the signal via a dish then it’s probably going directly from FOM’s broadcast truck to RTL’s truck via physical connection, then to their satellite and straight to your house.

Meanwhile the BBC commentary involves going from the track to the BBC’s web streaming site, where some sort of processing must be done to it to get it on the site and in the iPlayer format. then you have to get it through your own personal network; which could be wireless or wired or not set up entirely correctly, i know mine isn’t optimized. then through your internet connection to your ISP and at whatever speed you bought your connection for. And with whatever other packet shaping and throttling your ISP does.

That’s 2 parties using satellites and one direct connection vs 3 parties, a formatting and uploading process of some kind, and 3 different types of network. I’m surprised it’s only that far behind.


Justin, I’m sure you’re right on 5 Live/BBC/Internet. But RTL are broadcasting to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and others. Multiple channels, some HD. They have commercial breaks too – some full screen, some picture in picture with the F1 stream, and some of the commercials seem quite localised – supermarket offers etc. So I’d be surprised if all that dissemination were being done in the F1 paddock. I think it’s more likely the pictures do go back to Germany before being uploaded to the satellites.


Great question – I have no idea!

I’ll find out.


Mr Allen,is Tata Comunication also acquired

the rights for the F1 telemetry last year,if

so it begs a question,why beat the drum of

being able to download three times faster then

currently avalable and by the same token not

being able to fix the telemetry problem thus

far, please can you shed some light.


As far as I know the problem is not in TC’s area.


For an international company, you’d think they’d be aware of slang terms in major markets before they decided on a name for their business. At the least they’ll get some grins here in the Colonies. eh? 🙂


Very interesting article. I’m just wondering how they are going to do it in case of a fibre failure. Many countries in the world have their fibre on posts and it just takes a truck to hit a post to disconnect the fibre.

If they suddenly have a 3 times slower connection (going back to the previous situation) what will the impact be on their operations? Since the engineers are no longer on track…


Haha. 3 times as fast eh, but they’ll wear their tyres out 3 times as fast too! 😛


I hope they relay some of the information to viewers as well, and maybe teams can have portals that are interactive so fans can “make” their own realtime race strategies for fun and see how it compared to the team’s strategy at the end of the day.


This sounds a little odd…. Telemetry (generally speaking) is not a lot of data and does not need a lot of bandwidth. e.g. the car is only transmitting data over a radio link, so the feed to headquaters does not need to be any faster than that, so not very fast I would think….




Still, the bottleneck is still the human, the man in the middle of it all.


On the day the data link crashes, Merc would be really, really sorry!


So true because that will surely happen … and the timing will not be convenient.

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