The new F1 regulations introduced at the beginning of the 2017 season were designed to foster competition between the teams and the drivers. The Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday proved it maybe more than any other race this season.
As they arrived at the Hungaroring last week for their last race before a well-deserved half- season break, the F1 teams and drivers probably thought they knew what to expect. An increasingly strong Mercedes-AMG fighting for the lead over Ferrari, with Red Bull in the role of the outsider, and McLaren at the bottom of the grid. Looking at the standings at the end of the race, one could even think this was a safe assumption. But, that would not be doing justice to a weekend full of surprises.
The teams had to adapt to an impressive (and exciting) number of curveballs that challenged their expectations and their ability to adapt before the race. Many drivers struggled to find the right balance on their cars, as shown by the numbers of off-track excursions. Red Bull had the performance to challenge both Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari. McLaren drivers showed a pace they never had this season. Williams had to call Paul di Resta to fill in for Felipe Massa. The race did not disappoint either with Max Verstappen ending Daniel Ricciardo’s race in the first turn, and Mercedes and Ferrari using the hard but necessary team orders to maximize their performance. In the end, the Ferrari drivers took the first two spots on the podium, with Sebastian Vettel taking the first spot. Valtteri Bottas took the third spot thanks to great teamwork and team spirit.
Few could have predicted such a weekend in Hungary. How do teams manage such situations where unexpected changes keep on coming their way? While it’s true that the human factor plays a big role in the way that strategists and team leads as well as drivers themselves make decisions that can make or break a win, they also leverage data to drive these decisions. The data from the months of R&D and simulations can come in handy if it can be used in the right way, even in the very short time that they have to decide. Here’s what teams are looking for:
- Know what options to choose. Some decisions may provide a short term advantage but also put the car and the driver in a configuration that can lead to a failure. Analysis on past data can help sort out the good options from the bad, which is a good starting point for a decision to be made.
- Analyze the situation quickly. Data at rest from past analysis as well as data in motion streaming from the vehicle is available. But, it’s the ability for the team to analyze and compare this data in a tight timeframe. That is how good options can be discovered, confirmed, and prioritized.
- Act on the situation immediately. The ability to activate the best option becomes critical. This activation is done by transmitting the right data to the right system or team members. From strategy to engineering, pit crew, and of course the driver, everyone needs to act along the same plan. Data is once again fueling the team’s ability to build a competitive intelligence.
To achieve this, Mercedes-AMG F1 has chosen TIBCO’s solutions to:
- Deeply analyze the data available from past races and simulations to help engineers define the best configurations for the cars
- Analyze data at rest as well as data in motion to instantly identify the best options, make the best decisions, and evaluate their options
- Ensure the whole team is working on the same data to apply the right decisions in real time and seize every opportunity they have
The intelligence in the data is augmenting the intelligence of the team. We call this Connected Intelligence. Not only can it be applied to arrive at the race weekend with the best race configuration, but it can also make sure the team takes the best decisions throughout the weekend, including the race. If you want to know more about the how Mercedes-AMG F1 drives performance from Connected Intelligence, watch this video or check out our web page.
Another form of intelligence a team can show comes from their ethics. Mercedes-AMG F1 applied team orders to have Bottas let Lewis Hamilton pass as he seemed to have superior performance and could be even more of a threat to the Ferraris in the front. As I mentioned earlier, these decisions are tough for everyone, especially the driver in front. But they are necessary for the team. The understanding was that if the strategy did not work, Hamilton would let Bottas pass him again. And this scenario is exactly what happened in the last turn of the race. It was probably hard for Hamilton to think Vettel would increase his lead over him at the driver championship to 14 points. At TIBCO, we are proud to partner with a team that has such high standards, without the drama, opposite to most other teams.
The tension was palpable after the race. This race may influence the Mercato. And, it’s probably best that the whole F1 world takes a break during the next three weeks. We’ll be with them from August 25 to 27 in Spa, one of my favorite tracks.
What an exciting half season this has been. Who can predict the outcome of the championship? Feel free to comment and start the discussion.