Fueling Renault F1® Team with data

In Formula One racing, every millisecond counts. Renault F1 Team is keeping pace with innovation to push their performance on and off the track.

Formula One racing is a fast-paced industry, where 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 of hundreds to produce a winning Formula One car. The team is constantly exploring how to push the limits of engineering, making cars faster and more reliable than ever.

With each race, they’re learning and trying new things with the most current car. Every time Renault F1 Team drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo get behind the wheel, more than 200 sensors collect over 50 billion data points that help the technical staff improve aerodynamics, performance, and handling. By keeping drivers and teams so interconnected, members of the race strategy team can make live race-time decisions while designers and engineers can get started on future innovations.

“We deal with huge amounts of data in real time,” says Everest. “While the cars go around the track, they send a real-time stream of data, and there are people in the garage making decisions based on that data about what they can change to try and gain a competitive advantage on the track.”

Innovating at this speed means that engineers must have a deep understanding of the impact their design changes might have on the car. One slight modification could affect car reliability or aerodynamics, so they have to run thousands (if not millions) of simulations before the race. Previously, running these simulations meant taking their machines offline from other activities. But now, using Azure Batch compute, they can turn on virtual machines as needed—never being forced to take their own machines offline or buy extraneous hardware—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. Through mixed reality, the simulation work can be used to view the car from multiple abstract angles—easily lifting, rotating, and manipulating a virtual version of the car. The team can immerse themselves into a visualization of the air flow over a car, getting a deep understanding of how the design changes affect the aerodynamics.

With all these innovations happening so rapidly, the team needs technology that’s effective and efficient enough to keep pace. To streamline development, the team has turned to Microsoft Dynamics 365 to aid in the manufacturing process 24/7. From inventory to parts production to lifing, it allows the them to have a holistic view of precisely what is going into the car for each race—and drives manufacturing efficiencies. 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.

This technological groundwork has helped Renault F1 Team continue to adopt and integrate other cutting-edge technologies into their design process, laying the foundation for their challenge to return and compete as a Championship contender.

Learn more about how technology is transforming the Renault F1 Team.