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.”