I had the pleasure of going to Melbourne’s Albert Park where I had behind the scenes access to the AMG Petronas Mercedes Benz garage ahead of this weekend’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix. Being more of a tech head rather than a rev head, this was a unique opportunity to gain insight into the inner workings of a Formula One team.
We were fortunate enough to have a roundtable discussion with the team boss Toto Wolff and driver Valtteri Bottas. With the small talk out of the way, the conversation steered (pun intended) towards data capture. According to Wolff, data capture is an essential part of racing today. Each racing weekend, the team collects approximately 5TB of telemetry data from the cars during the race. This data is sent in real-time to the specialists at the race and also back at the team headquarters in Brackley, UK. Analytics and responses are then provided back to the pit crew, also in real-time. From the enthusiasm in Wolff’s explanation, one could see that this was an extremely high performing virtual team at its best. The importance of data capture was also echoed by Bottas later that afternoon.
Our next talking point was the Epson relationship. For Wolff, the relationship is built on performance and quality. He went further to describe how for races outside of Europe, the containers that house all the equipment could spend months out at sea. The AMG Petronas Mercedes Benz team need the confidence that they can take a printer from a shipping container that has been at sea for 3 months, plug in and start printing. Not only have Epson consistently delivered to this expectation but they now have a fleet of around 130 WorkForce inkjet printers deployed in the team.
“Epson is an Official Team Partner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team. Their constant pursuit for the highest level of performance represents a value shared with Epson, which is committed to continuous innovation to create value that exceeds our customers’ expectations.” – Epson Corporation
Epson doesn’t only provide the team with printing solutions. They also provide the Epson Moverio BT-300 Smart Glasses for Augmented Reality (AR) use. Bottas was quite positive about the use of AR and how it can assist drivers with learning about the new car and systems. Bottas also commented that they had “done a full race simulation on the Melbourne track just to get back into it” before they arrived in Australia. When asked whether AR would have a significant impact on training methods, he noted that the technology still has some way to go. One limitation at the moment is the lack of feedback.
“To drive it, of course, you can’t feel the full G forces because we pull 5Gs in the car so just can’t create that ….” Bottas noted.
However, in terms of visuals and track accuracy, the technology is there and the team with Epson are about to release a significant update to their current AR platform.
The single and most significant takeaway I had from the conversations with Wolff and Bottas, was that the Epson relationship was more than just a logo on some merchandise. They were clearly treated as a partner with the entire AMG Petronas Mercedes Benz team having a clear and consistent understanding of the pivotal role Epson plays in their performance on and off the track. Wolff confirmed this later on commenting that the AMG Petronas Mercedes Benz team went through a process of sponsor consolidation, partnering with only key organizations that are able to add value to the team.
All in all, it was a great day out and refreshing to see the team embracing technology in the way that they have. When fractions of a second determine whether you win or not, the choice of technology partners is crucial to the team’s success.