In Formula One, racing cars drive at over 220 miles per hour and generate more than a billion data points during each weekend race. It’s a technologically demanding sport where constant innovation is essential. With races only a week or two apart, Renault F1 Team has to design and manufacture innovations for their cars on a race-by-race basis—often turning them around in just 24 hours.
“We build two cars a year, not thousands of cars,” says Mark Everest, IS Development Manager at Renault F1 Team. “The innovation rate involved in design, simulation, testing and manufacturing is much faster than consumer car companies.”
Beyond the track
It takes a dedicated team to produce a winning Formula One car, from Enstone and Viry-Châtillon Technical Centres to the track. The thousand-strong team is constantly exploring how to push the limits of engineering, making cars faster and more reliable than ever. Each piece of information is imperative to understand the dynamics of the car and transform these forces into performance. With each race, they’re learning and trying new things with the most current car.
Every time Renault F1 Team drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon get behind the wheel, more than 200 sensors collect over 50 billion data points that help the technical staff improve aerodynamics, performance, and handling. But one of the most vital sources of data isn't a sensor or computer. It's the human behind the wheel, whose point of view provides valuable information on how the car is performing and behaving; something that a sensor can’t communicate to the engineers.
Previously, running simulations based on these data points meant taking their machines offline from other activities. But now, using Azure Batch compute, the team can turn on virtual machines as needed and run the simulations up to 600% faster.
To bring this simulation process to life, the team uses Microsoft’s mixed reality experience for the HoloLens, allowing them to view the car from multiple abstract angles—easily lifting, rotating, and manipulating a virtual version of the car.
To streamline development, the team has turned to Microsoft Dynamics 365. It aids in the manufacturing process 24/7. And by pairing Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations with Microsoft Power BI, Renault F1 Team can call up data in real-time with rich interactive visuals on customized dashboards, allowing them to make decisions and modifications at the breakneck speeds the races require.
Collaboration drives success
“The better I can describe the problems and the feeling of the car to my engineers, the better they can work to find solutions and fix the problems,” says driver Nico Hülkenberg.
If they didn’t have this input, the engineers would be developing a car without any insight into how the driver is experiencing changes. But once they have this data from the track, it’s then a process of rigorous teamwork and collaboration.
Pierre d'Imbleval, Chief Information Officer, Renault F1 Team
Lucia Conconi, Suspension Performance Section Leader, Renault F1 Team
Mark Everest, IS Development Manager, Renault F1 Team
Sara Cabitza, Aerodynamicist, Renault F1 Team
Rene Torcato, Lead R&D Engineer, Renault F1 Team
That’s quite a nice feeling when we try all together to bring different sides of development to the track.Lucia Conconi, Suspension Performance Section Leader, Renault F1 Team
Formula One is such a fast-paced sport, there’s no time to second-guess. The team must be able to trust the data they receive, analyze it, and visually interpret it in the most efficient way. Microsoft technology can help filter through each valuable piece of information—whether it’s human feedback or data generated by sensors—to create that competitive edge and help Renault F1 Team continue to vie as a credible championship contender.