Data + Strategies = Results

Jun 13, 2022

F1 - Its a function key on your keyboard and one of the most popular motorsports on the planet. Today I’ll be talking stats about the latter as let’s be honest, the F1 key isn’t all that exciting.

Being a bit of a petrol head I’ve recently finished watching on Netflix the Formula 1 series “Drive to Survive” and am eagerly awaiting season 5 & 6. Other than watching motorsport for what it is, I also have an interest in the analytics side of it and I don’t think you can get a more data driven motorsport that Formula 1.

Side note.... Softsource vBridge partner with Pure Storage, the same datacenter storage provider that the Mercedes F1 team uses. This should tell you that we are pretty serious about our IaaS storage performance!

Performance is a multi-faceted word in Formula 1. It can be associated with lap time, driveability, top speed, tyre degradation, downforce, power unit output and efficiency, overall reliability, component stiffness, aerodynamic drag, resource efficiency in cost, time, energy and much more. The various areas of performance can all influence each other, so measuring them depends on the data collected and the type of analysis undertaken. Each Formula 1 car carries around 300 sensors onboard, which collectively produce 1.5 terabytes of data throughout a race weekend.  For a race season, a two-car team produces 11.8 billion data points. These must all be filtered and analysed to look for performance gains, reliability issues or strategies for the team to make better decisions or to work out what their competitors are doing.

Going forward, data analytics is going to be even more important as historically each team has had vastly different budgets, however for the 2022 season it is now capped at $142.4M dollars for everyone.

So, some numbers…

500,000 - Gigabytes or half a petabyte. That’s the amount of data accumulated by the F1 Motorsport team during the Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) cases. CFD cases are a computational model of the entire prototype car (or pair of cars), which simulates the airflow in and around the car, enabling the F1 Motorsport team to accurately quantify the aerodynamic influence of the geometric changes they have made.

471 - That's how many years it would take for a high-spec home computer using an Intel i9 processor to work its way through the 16.5 million core hours of computing clocked up by the Motorsport team.

The CFD models range from 150 to 600 million cells and run on high-specification AWS compute. The fastest F1 simulation results are returned to us within 2.5 hours of submitting the case.

50 percent, which is the peak thermal efficiency of the turbo-hybrid power units. Before 2014, that number stood at just 32% for Formula 1 engines – and the best road cars have a thermal efficiency with a percentage that hovers around the low to mid-40s.

40 years, or four decades, since the last ground effect cars raced in F1. Ground effect is downforce produced by the undersides of the cars, and this year sees 3D floors keeping cars glued to the floor along with the work of the front and rear wings.

Crucially, the loss of downforce when one car is following another is lower than it was in 2021 (more on that number in a bit), which should make for closer racing.

20 different car concepts were produced by the F1 Motorsport team, each one assigned a letter of the phonetic alphabet. The final show car was titled 'Uniform'. There were 20 formal baseline iterations, but each baseline step comprised hundreds of individual CFD simulations, where the design was continually developed and refined. Overall, over 10,000 CFD simulations were conducted!

18 inches – the size of the 2022 F1 tyres supplied by Pirelli. The tyres were redesigned from scratch, with more than 10,000 hours of indoor testing, 5,000 hours of simulation, and 70 virtual prototypes produced before nine teams tested them for 20,000 kilometres in 2021. The result is a wider working range than the 13-inch predecessors, limited overheating and reduced degradation.

10 - The percentage of E10 fuel containing bio-components – part of Formula 1’s push for sustainability and aim of being Net Zero Carbon by 2030. That proportion of biofuel is the one that emits next to nothing when it comes to carbon dioxide, and F1 are aiming to go much further, targeting a move to 100% biofuel in the future.

4 percent: this time the simulated loss of downforce when a 2022 F1 car is 20 metres behind another. In 2021, that figure was estimated to be around 35%. The loss of downforce rises to 18% when a 2022-spec car is behind another, compared to 46% when one 2021 car was behind another.

But even with all the data and statistics gathered from the cars themselves that provide valuable insight to the teams, formula one drivers are a special breed in their own right and have a unique skill set.

Rob Green

Rob originates from SA and delivers a great double-billing in Technical Presales and Technical Delivery.