The single biggest reason Red Bull dominates Formula 1

Sectors | Sports   |   
Published October 9, 2013   |   
David Thornton

Formula 1 fans were treated to a very entertaining race in Korea on Sunday. Did you catch the race? There was plenty of incident,. but once again Sebastian Vettel lined up in pole position and was in front from start to finish. It was another masterful drive from the German.

In fact Vettel’s dominance in recent seasons invites the usual questions about whether it’s the car or the driver who should take the lion’s share of credit. Vettel is certainly a brilliant driver who is that crucial tenth of a second quicker than his Red Bull Racing team mate Mark Webber. And the quality of the car is clearly important.

But there is another crucial factor behind this success: big data. And there is a fascinating story here about how Red Bull has used big data to steal a march on everyone else in Formula 1. It’s a story that demonstrates the power of what is now one of the most exciting and disruptive forces in society today – make sure you don’t miss out!

It’s all down to a few men in a room in Milton Keynes

The Red Bull team is most visible during pit-stops. The mechanics can remove all four wheels, replace them and even adjust the front wing in 2.5 seconds. Occasionally, human or mechanical error conspires to spoil this carefully choreographed display of teamwork and the race can be lost. Wheel nuts won’t come off or go on, sometimes a tyre gets left in the garage. It can make for dramatic television.

But there is another aspect to teamwork that we don’t see on TV. Without it, Vettel’s race would be a lot more difficult, and I’m sure he would have had less success. Red Bull’s cars take to the track laden with around a hundred sensors. Everything conceivable is monitored: pressures, loadings, temperatures, parts wear, fuel use. Some of this telemetry analyses driver performance such as braking and acceleration at specific points on the track; information that will help Vettel improve and go even faster.

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