Collaboration vital to winning Formula One

Red Bull Racing chief details how communication is crucial on and off the track

Having the right technology to help 750 people collaborate on building and racing cars is essential to winning Formula One, Red Bull Racing's Alan Peasland told attendees at this year's UC Expo.

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Peasland, who is the team's head of technical partnerships, said that communication was necessary to build a racing car from scratch in just five months to be ready for an F1 season.

"We have to keep the team focused, it's a huge collaboration between 750 people," he said.

The design process for a car is not just in making a vehicle to race at the beginning of the season. Up to 30,000 changes are made during the season and this requires close collaboration between engineers. "It's a change management business," he said.

Peasland said that the team made use of communications technology from its partner AT&T, such as telepresence, video conferencing, and smart whiteboards, among others to fix problems - often in very tight time constraints.

On race days, there is constant communication between the driver and the team in the pits, he said. Data is also sent by the car itself to a telemetry team run by AT&T that processes the raw data. This can then be accessed by an operations room at the race track. These teams then analyse data, as well as video feeds from the race cameras and from a camera mounted on the car itself.

F1 rules limit the number of staff a team can have by the trackside, so data and comms is also sent to a remote engineering team back in the UK. Peasland said this can sometimes be difficult when the team is halfway around the world. 

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Peasland said that racing was very much a "data-driven business". He said: "Decisions are based on data and not gut feel."

He detailed how all the data and communications from the driver and car help in deciding strategy during a race. If a competitor has an accident and the safety car is brought out, the team then has to figure out if their own car is damaged in any way.

"It all happens in 60 seconds, it is crucial that we can communicate and collaborate at this pace," said Peasland.

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