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Technology, skill and funding will win the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix

Jack Loo | Sept. 26, 2008
Having top IT vendors alone does not mean a winning guarantee.

The unique cars used in Formula 1 (F1) racing are among the fastest and most sophisticated vehicles in the world today.

For the upcoming weekends F1 night event in Singapore, 20 race cars will be clocking maximum speeds of 350kph and are designed to complete 61 laps around the metropolitan area, a total of some 300km.

The curves and turns of the circuit have prompted the car designers to tune their vehicle aerodynamics to cope with centrifugal forces that can be up to three and half times a cars weight.

Information technology is a vital ingredient in the world of F1 to enable the cars to properly perform. All the teams have partnered up with a variety of IT vendors in a wide variety of areas from communications, to performance monitoring and aerodynamic development.

For instance race team McLaren Mercedes, currently ranked number two in the standings, uses SAP software in the development of its engine, measuring information such as race car performance.

Team AT&T Williams uses a customised supercomputer from Lenovo to build a virtualised wind tunnel for the development of aerodynamics of its cars. Japanese race team Honda employs an IP telephony system from Avaya and Nokia to ensure call quality and staff can be easily contacted.

The BMW Sauber F1 team uses Intel-power supercomputers to help the team engineers make critical decisions in fractions of a second and real-time adjustments to a cars set-up during the race.

However, technology alone is not enough. The Japanese teams of Toyota and Honda have the biggest budgets for racing R&D among the 20 F1 teams, yet this is not reflected in the teams rankings.

Also, race driver ability comes into the equation. During overtaking manoeuvres, one late braking move is enough for car to bash into the back of another. When going into corners, once a driver misjudges, a few centimetres is all it takes to turn the car into smoking wreckage, according to AT&T Williams driver Nico Rosberg.

Even a perfectly made car and good drivers do not equate success for racing teams. The intense rivalry between drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso played its part in unravelling team McLaren Mercedes season in 2007.

A staff writer with Fairfax Business Media, Jack Loo is a full-time web and magazine reading addict, from to webmonkey and monocle. 


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