The sport of Formula One is a circus – it’s all about entertainment for the fans, and it travels the world setting up the same show at new venues every fortnight or so 19 times a year. This circus is a whole lot more high-tech than you might imagine with hundreds of gigabytes of data travelling around the world each race weekend for just one of the teams alone. EFTM spent the day with Red Bull Racing’s innovation partner AT&T in the days before the first race of the 2014 season.
There are around 600 people who work for the Red Bull Racing formula one team with the headquarters in Milton Keynes in the UK – however with a world sport like Formula One there is a whole lot of travel required. Two test sessions prior to the season and 19 races around the world means a lot of stuff gets freighted all around the globe – along with a core team of 60 Red Bull Racing staff.
With so much knowledge and technology back in the UK headquarters it’s not surprising that the team has more people back in the UK working on a race weekend than at the track itself, especially at “fly-away” rounds like Australia.
In real-time there are engineers looking at data coming off the car as it races around the track in practice, qualifying and the race itself. Those engineers might be behind the pit-wall, or in the UK. Likewise during the race itself the team relies on as many of the staff back in the UK to monitor data from the car as well as almost every other car on the track through public data and determine strategy decisions throughout the race.
The Infiniti Red Bull team have a newly formed relationship with global telecommunications company AT&T as an “innovation partner”.
AT&T had the Red Bull team as a client in 2011, and since then have enhanced and increased the co-operation between the companies to the extent where now they hold the highest level partnership within the team.
AT&T send a small group of five ahead of each race to the next track to set up a remote point of presence which allows the Red Bull Team to operate a huge global private network.
Connected to each other as if they were in the same building are the team sitting on the Pit-Wall, the Technical team in the back of the pit-garage, the car itself, the factory in Milton Keynes and the Renault Engine team in France.
Each can access a wide range of data and information which totals over 100GB per race weekend being moved around the world.
To facilitate this network across an entire season of F1, AT&T have to temporary points of presence which rotate around the world so there’s always one setup and one team working ahead in preparation for the next race.
Often we talk about how the technology from Formula 1 makes its way down into the cars we drive, like ABS, Traction control and things we take for granted now – what’s fascinating is how the technology developed by AT&T for Formula One – these mobile and temporary points of presence which connect race tracks to the world – are also now used for deployment in disaster zones. Areas where disaster has taken out existing infrastructure for telecommunications can benefit from a system that is fast to set up and provide large-scale telecommunications to an area – even outside of motoring there are advances in technology involved in the circus of Formula One which have benefits outside of the sport.
Head of Technical Partnerships for Red Bull Racing Alan Peasland described in Melbourne the importance of a partnership like the one they have with AT&T are a vital part of what drives Red Bull and has resulted in four consecutive championships.
The mission for Red Bull Racing is simple “We’re a racing team here to win races and championships”. In addition “We aim to be the most professional, accommodating and unique team in F1”. They’ve sure done a good job of that in the last few years – let’s hope Aussie Daniel Ricciardo can take it to his team-mate and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and fight for the championship in 2014.
Trevor Long travelled to Melbourne as a guest of AT&T and Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.