What’s your unpopular opinion?
September 17th, 2019
Upon a brief search of the web, you will find tons and tons of blogs relating to how data is used in Formula 1, but what about its younger brother, Formula E? I was genuinely surprised at the lack of articles surrounding this topic, so I thought it was time to put this to rights!
Formula E is a rapidly growing sport, year on year it attracts thousands more followers, whether that is due to the decline in performance in the F1 cars, following the introduction of the new turbo era and the dominance of Mercedes. Or whether it may be to the current economic trend of electronic cars, it certainly seems to be a healthy investment at the moment as they are attracting many new sponsors and teams each year. Personally, I think the growth could simply be down to the scintillating nature of the new sport. There is much more wheel to wheel action, racing through some of the world’s most famous cites with amazing backdrops, and the acceleration of the cars is absolutely staggering. Making a recipe for complete success.
I feel that the best way to start is with a comparison of the sports main rival, Formula 1. The Formula 1 car with the most data sensors is (unsurprisingly) the Mercedes WO8, Lewis Hamilton’s championship winning car. With around 200 data sensors on the car, compared to the second placed Red Bull with around 180 (maybe this is a clue as to the dominance of Mercedes?). In comparison, the average Formula E car has around 330 data sensors, I put this mainly down to there being so many more electrical components on the car itself. So, what happens with all this data being collected? And what exactly is the data that is being collected?
It all begins in the practice sessions, without the data sensors in place, practice sessions would be rendered useless. The sensors pick up stats such as the temperature of the brakes, the temperature and performance of the electrical power units (batteries), even the drivers have sensor patches on their skin to measure blood pressure levels, and G-force resistance ability, to ensure the safety of the driver. This information is all fed back to the pits, where it is evaluated and compiled. It is after these practice sessions where the driver will meet with the race strategy coordinator, and co-ordinate the race strategy.
At present, drivers change cars at various points in the race as the power units cannot last the full race duration, however from next year, due to advancements in technology, this will all change as the cars will be able to last the full length of the race, for the first time since the birth of the sport. This will have a huge impact on the data that is being collected. The data will be focused more around the power in the units, as the power output in these units is adjustable from the cockpit of the vehicle. It is important that the power units themselves become more regulated, as to ensure one team cannot dominate the sport due to their own advancements in the tech. So, data sensors will in fact be key to keeping the sport competitive from next year onwards.
Personally, I can see these changes having a positive impact on the sport, let’s all just hope that Formula E remains as competitive as it is now. Unlike the bigger brother formula 1, which in recent years has been entirely dominated by Mercedes.
How do you think sensors and the data they collect will continue to develop the sport?
This blog was originally published on LinkedIn. To read the original blog click here.