AT&T Shows the Importance of Data in F1 Racing

Communications /

Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, AT&T sat down with Christian Horner and Max Verstappen to get their thoughts on the importance of data in Formula 1. Learn More.

In Formula 1, a hundredth of a second can be the difference between winning and losing. Having near real time data is crucial in providing that competitive edge.

Only 60 of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's 800-strong team are allowed trackside. By feeding information back to the team's headquarters in Milton Keynes in virtually real-time, using 100 sensors fitted to the car, AT&T empowers Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's engineers and technicians to back up team principal Christian Horner on race day.

Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, we spoke to Christian Horner and Dutch driver Max Verstappen to get their thoughts on the race, the importance of data and the changing nature of Formula 1 (F1).

Q&A with Max Verstappen, F1 driver, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team (Dutch driver)

Tell us about your upbringing and how you got into F1 driving?

Everything for me started with go-karting. After several years and when you have some good results then you make the move to cars. Actually, after one year of cars, I made the move up to F1, which was a surprise for me and the world in general. But I had the right guidance. Of course with my dad  being an ex-F1 driver, he helped me, and with the support of now Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and their sponsors, like AT&T, we managed to make it happen.

Why is data so important and how has it changed F1 racing in recent years?

Of course it’s getting more and more advanced every single year and you try to improve every single bit that you can to go faster. You’re really dependent on the data because at the end of the day it will make your car go faster or see if something is breaking down.

Do you recall any specific moments where insights from data have helped you gain advantage or take a different approach in a race?

Data helps both when preparing for a race and after to see what is breaking down and what can be improved to help you go faster.

The 24/7 support and insights we receive from partners such as AT&T means we are able to constantly track and work on improving our performance all the time.

In my first race for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, the Spanish GP in 2016, we were initially behind in the running, however the data analysis of the tyres showed their performance was better than Friday’s practice sessions, allowing us to go longer in the first stint. This gave us the advantage to take win. And it was my first win in Formula 1. It was an incredible day!

Q: Do you think technology and analyzing performance patterns from data will play an increasingly important role in Formula 1 in the future?

I think so, yes. Data analysis is always improving and is a key part of Formula 1 driving and many other sports.  I don’t think in the past F1 teams had access to this kind of data and technology, but now we do. And it can really help make a difference between winning and losing a race.

Speed is key on the track for me, and off the track too for my team behind the scenes. We have around 800 people in our team spread across different locations, so data is and will continue to be increasingly important in the coming years.

What is the nature of AMRBR’s relationship with AT&T? How does this partnership help you bring out the best in your performances?

AT&T’s network provides my team with real-time data and connects us to our base in Milton Keynes.  Their technology solutions also help increase reaction and response times.  In a nutshell, AT&T products help me and my crew communicate and work together more efficiently and quickly

Tell us more about your support team and how they help you prepare for big races?

They are the main guys who make the car run so they are very very important. They are also great people as well so we have a good bond. They make me feel good and they help me feel relaxed ahead of the races.

What advice would you give to others hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Always be yourself and work hard on and off the track. Sometimes even working hard off the track is even more important to get the results in.

Christian Horner (team principal of RBR) – Q&A

What do your love most about your job?

I love racing. It is in my blood and I feel lucky I have been able to indulge my passion in this fabulous global sport as I start my 14th season as team principal of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Going racing is what it is all about for me. And to do it in Formula 1? There’s nothing better.

Why is data so important and how has it changed F1 racing in recent years?

Data and more importantly data delivery is a key element of contemporary Formula 1 racing. The cars in this current hybrid era are such complicated and technical beasts that, not only can we gather vast amounts of information throughout all components of the car, in order to be competitive it is a pre-requisite. The delivery of the data from the track to the operations room back at the factory allows for real time analysis and strategy calls back to the pit wall in the heat of a race  influences performance and race results. Data, data collection and delivery are a vital part of F1 racing.

How does your partnership with AT&T help AMRBR’s drivers make the best out of their performances?

We value AT&T's contribution to the team very highly and consider the products and services they provide as mission-critical to our operation at the race track. The more data we can gather, the more comprehensive our analysis can be, and, ultimately, the more accurate decisions are in the development of the cars, as well as during the race.

As an example, a major factor in our success at the Chinese Grand Prix last month (April 15) were the strategic decisions made by the Team in real-time, involving people at trackside working closely with people back our U.K. HQ in Milton Keynes.  They made those decisions quickly, despite 1000s of miles distance from Shanghai to Milton Keynes, thanks to the near real-time speed of the data shared across the network.

In fact, even in Australia, it takes about 300 milli-seconds for data to travel between the Melbourne Grand Prix and Milton Keynes!

What advice would you give to others hoping to follow in your footsteps?

From my perspective and background, you have to love racing! That’s certainly the first point…  Overall though, in the job as team principal for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing I wear a number of different hats: corporate CEO, entrepreneur, marketer, man-manager, media representative, event host, psychologist, politician, to name just a few. It’s all encompassing and you have to be prepared for any eventuality and not let events steer you or those around you from focus on your main mission. Relationships are very important. Formula 1 is a people business. Finding the right people, working with the right people and allowing them the freedom and support to do their jobs and them well is important and certainly my philosophy as a team principal. Formula 1 and the challenge and drive to be competitive is so engrossing. It has to be a personal passion.