BI Case Study

How Big Data Is Driving Formula One

26 February, 2015

How Big Data Is Driving Formula One

The fast paced, adrenaline-pumping nature of Formula One racing obviously has the daredevils intrigued, but more shocking is how many detail-oriented data analysts are also involved in the sport. Pouring over hundreds of gigabytes of information, these data engineers are trying to predict where their team will finish in the race before it even begins.

They do this mainly by analyzing the data produced from every single car during the last major races. By using hundreds of sensors, each providing thousands of data points, they can track things like tire pressure and fuel burn efficiency and analyze them in real time to give their team an immediate leg up on the competition.

For Red Bull Racing, the data was taken even one step further, when in 2012, their driver Sebastian Vettel was clipped from behind, putting him into a spin that landed him all the way in the back.

If this had happened a few years earlier, Vettel’s chances likely would have been shot, but with the new sophistication of big data collection, Red Bull’s engineering team was able to quickly come up with a new simulation, and by their next scheduled pit stop, they had already developed an entirely new race strategy which was just enough for Vettel to win the world championship.

“Data is so good for drivers that the pit crew could literally coach a driver to the most optimal racing conditions based on a live data feed of everything imaginable,” said Tony Jardine, a Formula One analyst for Sky Sports in the U.K. to Forbes Magazine.

What it all boils down to for these drivers and their teams is the ability to make educated decisions efficiently—something more possible than ever with the use of big data.

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