Formula 1 in its purest form is really just driving around a predefined circuit with hard corners in really fast vehicles. Drivers train vigorously on and off the track so that when the time comes, they are ready for race day. It’s a long and hard 21 race season around the world exposing yourself and the car to different challenges. Now to a race critic, this is all that Formula 1 will be ever be. But for the few that are really interested in understanding the sport delve into the logistics of each element that goes into the fine-tuning of the car, teams, drivers…there is a pretty long and never-ending list.
Data acquisition and telemetry have changed the face of Formula One Racing with its introduction in the late 1980s. Telemetry has been used in Formula One for over 30 years and grown into a vital tool to collect and analyze valuable data.
McLaren were the first team in 1991 to harness the concept of telemetry -- the transmission of data from distant sensors or instruments. McLaren used its system for the wireless transfer of data between the car and pits while the car was out on the circuit, and developed it in conjunction with TAG Electronics. Plenty of well-accredited people have been coining “data as the new oil” but in reality, it isn’t, it’s when you are able to convert the data into an understandable language, that’s when it can become profitable. Motors racing is all about numbers when you look at it from an off the track perspective:
- Overall race time
- Top speed
- Fuel efficiency
- G forces in 3 axis
- Tire temperature reading
These are a few of the essential features that can be collected and analyzed to attain optimum performance of your car. Telemetry and data analysis have become advanced to the points where the potential lap time can be calculated and what the driver is expected to meet. During a race weekend, each car carries approximately 200 sensors that capture around 100 events per second.
Driver inputs are also recorded so that the team can assess performance, and in the case of an accident, the FIA can determine or rule out driver error as a possible cause. Examples of driver inputs:
· Brake pedal movement
· Accelerator pedal movement
· Steering angle
· Gear position.
With the above-mentioned information engineers were able to analyze the performance of the car and drivers racing attributes of how consistent he was being, whether his teammate was braking later or accelerating earlier, and how much acceleration or even wheelspin he was experiencing. Even steering angles could be measured.