“F1 is the NASA of the automobile” exclaimed Stéphane Meunier, editor-in-chief ofAutomotive Magazine. Criticized for its spectacle side, Formula 1 has been a real laboratory since its inception, which, like the American space agency, makes it possible to discover and test the technologies that will make our daily lives in 10 years.
By way of example, we can cite the technology of turbo engines, introduced by Renault in the 1980s and highly criticized at the time. Since the “yellow teapots” (yellow cars often broke their engines which gave off strong smoke) imposed their system on Formula 1, motorsport, but on the whole market.
Today, according to auto minutes, 70% of the cars on our roads are entitled to a turbo engine. It therefore makes sense to take a close look at Formula 1 when we want to develop the car of tomorrow. This is what prompted Mercedes to join the competition in 2010, and what led Audi and Porsche to follow this same path with an arrival in the queen competition of motorsport in 2026.
Tech and Formula 1: a winning marriage
So when the most expensive cars in the world (about 20 million euros per model) show up in a setting as charming as that of Miami, for the first Grand Prix in the history of the Florida city everyone has an eye on them. If the race allowed Max Verstappen to win, it is partly thanks to his car. A Red Bull with a Honda engine that has thousands of sensors, and as many interesting technologies for the cars of tomorrow.
Thanks to its recent partnership with data analysis company Oracle, Red Bull engineers have an unprecedented understanding of racing. Oracle Cloud machine learning software helps analyze the 100,000 pieces of information that come into the pits every second.
Red Bull’s first size change to its RB18 in Miami, a metal bar that adds stiffness to the car and reduces ‘porpoising’ an undesirable effect of the car’s new aerodynamic design. An idea that has already arrived at Mercedes, the German team being greatly affected by this phenomenon since the start of the season.
McLaren and Google: a promising partnership
While Red Bull managed to grab the win in Miami, things were more complicated for McLaren. The English team has however signed a very interesting sponsorship contract with the tech giant Google. The latter should allow the Woking team to take an important step in understanding the data.
Also working with Dell, another major tech company, McLaren is able to change its racing strategy based on data coming in real time. Something that is done “every 20 minutes” assures Edward Green, in charge of digital architecture at McLaren.
Today the performance gap between the first and the tenth car (the last to score points) is 0.15%. This tiny gap is built on details, like understanding data, which plays an increasingly important role in sport.
Both in F1, where 100,000 data arrives every second, but also in other disciplines. The Toulouse Football Club uses data in particular to recruit or better understand its performance. A method that seems to work, the club has just been crowned Ligue 2 champion this year.