Spanish Grand Prix: This is the technology inside a Formula 1

Better engines, more efficient fuels, more durable and sustainable tires. Safer cars. The impact of Formula 1 technology on street vehicles is enormous. But to do this they depend on an enormous amount of information and processing capacity. If we take into account that 1 TB is all the storage that the most expensive mobile phones can have and that this is enough for about 250,000 photographs taken with a 12 megapixel camera; either 250 movies or 500 hours of HD video, imagine How much information fits into 500 TB, which is what F1 cars generate in a weekend.

According to Lee Wright, Head of IT Operations at Formula 1, it’s not just about information, it’s also about speed. Wright points out that, thanks to Lenovo technology, it has been possible to send all this information to the Technical Events Center in the United Kingdom… from anywhere in the world and in just 180-250 milliseconds, half the duration of a blink. In short, in the time it takes you to close your eyes to blink, a computer has sent 125,000 movies.

All this information is what gives decisive advantages when competing for pole position or first place. Formula 1 cars have some 300 sensors, but these can be doubled in certain tests or circuits. Obviously there are the temperature sensors (in the chassis, wheels, brakes…), wind, speed, G forces… But there are others that are less known. Pilots’ gloves, for example, have sensors of just 3 mm sewn into the fabric itself.. These sensors detect heart rate and blood oxygen level, among many other data. The information is transferred to the respective teams and FIA medical staff in real time to investigate the physical health of the drivers. Immediately after an accident, this data can be evaluated to determine the necessary requirements to treat the driver; without wasting a single second.

And nine cameras located on the helmet, pedals or chassis are added to the sensors (one of them 360 degrees that collects up to 100 hours of images) to which you have to add 147 microphones deployed throughout the circuit and in the vehicles themselves and almost half a million timings per weekend. All this information must also be sent to the teams and the Technical Events Center, located in Biggin Hill (United Kingdom), from where the official content of each race is produced.

Another technological challenge that Lenovo faces when providing devices for the F1 championship (more than 600 tablets and laptops used by engineers, mechanics, designers and directors) is that they must perform perfectly in the most extreme conditions: from humidity above 90%, to the desert climate of the Middle East circuits or in sub-zero temperatures. The surprising thing is that the Chinese company has been doing this for the third consecutive year and with a recycling rate of used equipment of 95%. In this way, the partnership between Formula 1 and Lenovo has allowed the reuse of more than 800 devices and a total of 62 million tons of electronic waste since they began working together.

Thus, the information that is processed today in F1 cars and the speed at which it is carried out, constitutes a test for the definitive arrival of autonomous cars and its reliable and safe implementation, both for passengers and pedestrians.