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The perfect lap: The final video – Teams’ edit
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Nov 2013   |  11:37 pm GMT  |  26 comments

We have been exploring the idea of the perfect lap, whether it exists in F1.

It’s an intriguing notion; man and machine in perfect harmony, raising the question – Is there such a thing as a “perfect lap”? We have had great interaction with readers on this, with some fantastic comments and ideas.

McLaren and their partner SAP have been exploring it too in a short video series and the final film – the Teams’ Edit – has just been posted.

This features Jenson Button and a number of McLaren engineers explaining how a team works at the factory during a race weekend in parallel with the team at the race track helping them with data on set-up and race strategy.

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So Ron can predict the future! I’m typing this sitting on the floor ‘cos I’m sore from falling off my chair laughing…

Let’s hope McLaren’s database is has expanded a lot and is way quicker for for 2014. They seem to have encountered more than a few statistical outliers in 2013. Maybe the black swan population in the pond at the MTC got out of control last year.

James got it right. All these models should be guides and nothing more. Over-reliance on them creates all sorts of dramas in all sorts of spheres (try the GFC or LTCM for instance).



P.S. Anyone who has had anything to do with SAP will also be rather astounded at the thought that the software package could be put the same sentence as ‘perfect’, ‘harmony’ or any other words not tilted much more towards ‘illogical’ and ‘frustration’.


As an engineer, one of the things I love about this ‘sport’ is the way engineers get the credit they deserve (although obviously not as much credit as the drivers). Considering the influence that they have on the world and people’s lives it is often felt they are not given enough credit. In England we have an incredible history of innovation that has irreversibly changed the way the world works and have always been at the cutting edge. From Newton right through to what these guys do in F1 our influence is undeniable, not bad for a tiny insignificant island!

I am involved in STEM NET trying to encourage school kids to pursue careers in Engineering and I am always using F1 as an example. I enjoy the ‘sport’ more for what happens off track than on it and I’m really looking forward to next season and the new challenges that will face the teams. Now if McLaren could hurry up and give me a job I’d really appreciate it.


I like the way Martin Whitmarsh can confidently say they’ve won ‘182 grands prix’, safe in the knowledge that that figure wasn’t going to change before the video went out.

P.S. Are there any women or non-white people at this team?


Interesting enough piece, but really not adding much to the “perfect lap” debate as most people would understand it. Guess they only employ (white male) homoSAPiens at McLaren though.

I was hoping at least for Ron’s database to predict a perfect lap around Silverstone (in a two year old car of course) and then see if Jenson could match it.


Ron lost me at “we can predict the future”…

Then James got me back with “what INFORMS those decisions is data”.

Have loved this series immensely.

Thank you.


Perfect lap? Try this: perfect driver! Chip’s video is cheap and not so shiny, compared to Ron’s space odyssey 2013, but to the point.

Spent at least 15 minutes trying to figure out what SAP is, it’s absolutely hopeless when a company doesn’t even bother with a proper About section on their website.

Also, promo laps around Jerez? Slightly sped up footage to make the cars look faster? Hmm, not my cup of café con leche.


So, data and simulations are part of my day job. So SAP was an enterprise software firm that specialised in general ledger and other large business applications. They were THE hot software app around the year 2000, as many companies converted to SAP to avoid the “millennium bug” in their older systems.

However, right now SAP is known for something called HANA, which is their hardware and software solution to very, very large databases. It provides the source data, with enough performance, to power high-speed analytics and simulations.

HANA started as a big of a sideline for SAP, now it is perhaps their main growth area. It is incredibly good at what it does. The competition for them are Oracle’s Exabyte platform and a few other smaller players.


HANA means “end of the road” in russian, hope SAP’s HANA won’t go “hana”.

Anyway, your explanation was quite good, thanks for the effort, very much appreciated. Now I know SAP and SAPO are 2 diferent things, and that SAP is not an energy drink.


SAP is an enterprise software firm.


@Gary – yes, yes, yes, I’m doing it all the time.

@PRVN – I thought it was another energy drink thing actually. Their YouTube channel is linked to a sponsorship page with a bunch of female tennis players dressed in fancy clothes. Wikipedia tells you more about SAP than SAP’s substandard about page (it’s nothing more than “we’re Germans and we’re great”).

I mean it’s a vídeo by SAP about SAP, for sure, you know. Expensive to make, nice footage; McLaren road cars being tested on the moon – whatever, it’s mindblowing if you’re buying this marketing exercise. I’m sure SAP doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, companies like CSC did the same for poor Marussia for exemple. The same moody videos with mysterious music. Give me something from race weekends instead of putting 3rd drivers in front of the cameras (yes, it’s F1’s business model – they can’t do that, I know, TV rights; nothing is great, a little bit is too much; more is bad, less is fantastic).


‘If you’re fast enough and if your data-base is extensive you can predict the future’.

No, Ron, no . . .

If you operate at the speed of light and your data-base is limitless you can probably make a fair assumption concerning a few events on the short term horizon.

Somewhere a butterfly sneezes . . .

On the other side of the planet JB over-steers due to a strong lateral gust . . .

[allergy advice: traces of mild cynicism included]


Butterflies can sneeze?

I tried to verify your claim, but all I found was this:

Never let it be said that visiting JA is not informative 🙂


Nice hippo – thankfully mucous free.

Chaos theory incorporates the ‘butterfly effect’ – should have been ‘flaps its wings’ but I thought ‘sneeze’ far more subtle

There is a lot of erroneous info about the history of chaos theory on the web – the truth is it was invented by Bernie E. in the late 1950s in order to keep the F1 fraternity in check.


“chaos theory is an entire field created by scientists and mathematicians to explain why they can’t explain stuff.”

You are right. But that does not mean that “chaos theory”, or the bifurcations that arise in systems of coupled equations, aren’t also real. Mathematicians invent a lot of useful things to explain stuff 🙂


I don’t know about more subtle, but sneeze was much funnier 🙂

I believe that chaos theory is an entire field created by scientists and mathematicians to explain why they can’t explain stuff.

Bernie on the other hand might be responsible for perfecting misdirection 🙂


Another great video thanks for sharing. It’s interesting that Mclaren had no major problems with the development of the MP4-12C and now the P1 given most high end ultra fast cars usually do. Can’t wait to see what the finished P1 looks like.


I suppose accelerating at the earliest possible moment, hitting the highest top speed possible, braking at the latest possible moment, turning and cornering at the limit of grip, for every single corner would be THE lap.


Thanks for the video James. Informative and with some good old Ronspeak!


isn’t it a bit ironic that we are using Team McLaren as the example for the Perfect Lap when their car nor their team were anywhere near considered class leading caliber? Let’s hope they get back their mojo for next season with the new rules and hybrid V6 power.

Cool video, nonetheless.


The fact that McLaren were relatively slow this year is irrelevant, the purpose here is to demonstrate if it’s possible to do a perfect lap (i.e. get the maximum from the car and driver without leaving anything on the table).

For example, I’m fairly confident I could do a perfect lap riding a lawnmower, but I don’t expect to win any GPs any time soon.

+1 On the return of the McLaren mojo. Let’s hope in 2014 they get it right because they are one of the few teams with the resources to take the fight to Red Bull for the entire season.


I hate the fact that McLaren bullies its drivers into signing contracts in which they agree to give up their winner’s trophies to the company so they can case them…wtf? Seriously? Glad that Hamilton moved on…


“Yes, cause a piece of plastic is oh so important!”

Bob, you’ve obviously never won an elite international sporting event, b/c I can assure you that 1) the trophies are in very few cases (if any) just simple pieces of plastic; and 2) they can be hugely symbolic to the winner, and sometimes of great beauty.

I’m sorry you’ve never had the experience of winning something substantial – it would erase that flippant attitude and give you the chance to appreciate the afterglow of success that comes w/ gazing upon your trophies.


Yes, cause a piece of plastic is oh so important!


I didn’t know that one.

I think it would be an honour for any driver to drive for McLaren, but personally if they asked me to give up any trophies I won I would give them a short sharp response.


You’re confusing perfect lap with fastest lap, the 2 aren’t the same, fastest lap depends on what is being driven.

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