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Guest blog: Digitalization journey in the Formula 1 world

It is no surprise that data security is uppermost in the minds of F1’s CIOs. The value is no longer in the car, it’s in the data belonging to the business.

Mark Gallagher / May 16, 2022

For half of its history Formula 1 motor racing has been on a digital transformation journey. It is now a fully connected environment in which data is the currency and its security critical to each of the ten competing teams.

Although the first Formula 1 World Championship was staged in 1950, it was not until the mid-1980’s that the sport began to replace mechanical technologies with digital solutions. The first steps involved computerised engine-management systems but, as software development accelerated, engineers soon began to deploy solutions in all areas.

Digital technologies as the game changer

Today, on the eve of the 2022 World Championship, the sport has seen every aspect of its operations and business outcomes revolutionised by its decision to fully embrace digital technologies.

Consider that today’s Formula 1 cars are not only the fastest we have seen but also the safest, most reliable and energy efficient. A whole series of apparent conflicts - faster but safer, for example - have been made possible because the sport has developed deep insights into problem-solving. In simple terms, F1 teams and drivers no longer ‘hope’ for great outcomes, they go into an event ready to make decisions based on knowledge, information and data.

It was the need to better manage risk and guarantee the safety of drivers that accelerated Formula 1’s data-driven journey. Starting in the mid-1990’s, the focus on better managing risk and improving outcomes led to data being analysed, trends examined and problems solved.

As computerised systems began to be employed on Formula 1 car design, development and operations, clear business benefits began to emerge. Reducing waste, improving manufacturing efficiency and ensuring better outcomes from R&D budgets were early wins.

A Formula 1 team is a technology company involved in low volume, prototype manufacturing. By digitising design technologies, and ultimately creating a ‘digital twin’ of the car, F1 teams stopped using a highly expensive, iterative process of trial and error during development. Instead, all designs and systems are developed, tested and proven in a virtual environment before teams ever commit to the expense of manufacturing.

Data security is uppermost in the minds of F1’s CIOs

One of the most powerful examples of Formula 1 teams’ use of data comes during a Grand Prix event when the car is interrogated real-time. One thousand channels of information are monitored to ensure the performance of the car, its systems and driver. Problems are instantly spotted, trends monitored and performance optimised.

The teams no longer even make all their decisions at the circuit. Instead, a group of engineers work remotely back at headquarters. This team of performance engineers and strategists use the power of real time data analysis to deliver fast, high quality decisions.

It comes as no surprise to learn that data security is uppermost in the minds of F1’s CIOs. The value is no longer in the car, it’s in the data belonging to the business. For it is in securely generating, storing and accessing information that Formula 1 teams depend for both sporting excellence and business performance.

Mark Gallagher was the keynote speaker in Tietoevry Pulp, Paper & Fibre Industry Event on April 26. 

Mark Gallagher
Formula 1 Executive

Mark's over 30 years expertise covers the commercial & operational management of Formula 1 teams, and includes the sport’s regulatory, business and technology landscape. He plays a key role in the digital transformation of Formula 1 and works with drivers and teams at the forefront of the sport.


Mark Gallagher

Formula 1 Executive

Pulp, Paper & Fibre solutions and services

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