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Learning from other sectors: Williams F1

IET and RAEng factfile: Learning from other sectors: Williams F1

Williams Grand Prix Engineering Limited, trading in Formula One as Williams Martini Racing, is a British motor racing team and constructor. Formula One is well-known for being one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world, whose cars are essentially big data factories on wheels. They have hundreds of sensors across many components, collecting data on everything from fuel levels and engine performance, to oil temperature and tyre pressure, as well as aero development.

Turning that data into useful information to tweak a car’s performance is nothing new in Formula One, but driving efficiency in the analysis process, so that data can shave race-deciding tenths of seconds from lap times, could be the difference between winning and losing.

There are essentially two races in Formula One: the one that most people are familiar with and the other race hidden from view – which is a lot larger – the development race. It happens in the factories of the Formula One teams around the country and across Europe, and it is an order of magnitude larger than the activity that is happening on race tracks at race weekends throughout the year. Three thousand people are involved, and over £1 billion is spent every year developing Formula One cars. If a team is not developing its car at a similar rate to its competitors, it is going to move backwards on the grid quite quickly