A decade after venture capitalist Marc Andreessen declared that “software is eating the world”, the shift to digit has impacted every facet of economic activity. It is hard to imagine any sphere of human life that does not in some way interface with software. According to the Data Center Frontier, software has eaten Formula One (F1).
Fans of F1 racing have become accustomed to detailed, real-time analysis of the most granular aspects of a race. Broadcasters can analyse the braking patterns of dueling drivers using the cloud-powered Amazon Web Service. This is made possible by the huge volume of data that the modern F1 car generates. The modern race car is a computer on wheels. It has the technical sophistication that the automakers such as Tesla are trying to introduce into normal vehicles. F1 cars exist on the edge of what is possible today in terms of technology and speed. They are the most sophisticated cars on the planet. Nothing compares to them. The typical F1 team has a range of partnerships to enable the smooth functioning of the team. It works with technology providers to get access to the latest edge computing, machine learning and high-performance computing solutions. These partnerships are mutually beneficial, allowing technology providers to demonstrate the quality of their products and also giving them a platform to experiment in real-world settings.
This season is the best F1 season in recent history, with just six points separating leader, Max Verstappen, from seven-time champion and last season’s winner, Lewis Hamilton, in the driver’s standings. After many seasons where Lewis Hamilton seemed to run away with the title without any real competition, it is so exciting to see a real fight for the crown.
Technology is paramount to the success of an F1 team. For some experts, the car is more important than the driver in determining who wins F1. Lewis Hamilton, one of the greatest drivers of all time, faces a Red Bull team whose technological prowess this season has pushed Verstappen to the brink of glory. Across the grid, F1 cars are replete with technology. Each car comes fitted out with 300 sensors generating 1.1 million telemetry data points every second, spat out from the car the pit. Every race weekend, 160 terabytes of data are transmitted between the race circuit and the F1 Media and Technology Center located in Biggin Hill, England.
The stakes are high and F1 teams have spent vast and ever-increasing sums in the battle for race glory. F1 teams have kept abreast of improvements in edge computing in order to deliver marginal but crucial gains in racing performance. Advances in chips, processing capability, and memory have driven teams to spend big to remain competitive.
F1 teams have been leaders in using data to unearth performance insights and drive development. In a field where the difference between success and failure can be milliseconds, even the smallest gain can be the difference between a place on the podium and finishing last. Cars have to have the precision of eyebrow microblading and unbelievable speeds just to be competitive. It’s no wonder that software continues to eat F1.