Formula One is increasingly becoming one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world, with teams gathering huge amounts of data from their cars as they seek that extra bit of speed. But just how big a part is IT playing in a team's performance? CBR sat down with Lotus F1 CEO Matthew Carter (below) to find out more around his team use their IT services, particularly their partnership with software giant Avanade.
So what is your typical schedule over a race weekend?
Between myself and Gerard Lopez, who is one of our owners and the Team Principal, one of us has to be at every race, so one of us is there from a Thursday evening through to the Sunday. Through the practice sessions, we'll sit on the pit wall, and try and make sure everything is going to plan.
How much does IT play in ensuring success for an F1 team?
It's essential - going back four or five years, the industry tried to cut costs, and one of the ways they did that was to stop testing - both in-season and pre-season. It was completely wiped out last year, but this year's there's two four-day tests. That means that the only way that we can develop the car really is through technology - so the more technically advanced we are, the more advantage we should have over the rest of the teams.
The guys at Avanade work within the Lotus team, they help us to write software, new programs and applications that assist with everything from stress on the cars to the simulator to strategy on the race weekend.
What does it mean to have someone like Avanade on board to help process and interpret all the data produced over a race weekend?
Again, it's essential - we obviously have our internal guys, like strategists and race engineers, but over the race weekend the data that we collect from the car needs to be analysed, processed, and fed back to those guys so that they can make decisions in terms of pit stops etc.
The car is so much more advanced this year with the electric sources - we have a kinetic recovery system alongside a heat recovery system, which both feed into the battery which can be deployed during the lap at any time. So it's quite key for us to work out on which laps to deploy this and the best strategy overall - whether that be to defend from the car behind or attack the car in front, or to push before and after a pit stop - but the strategy that goes around all that is obviously worked through technology.