Transforming IT Performance into Formula One Success

When people think of McLaren they think of Formula One where we have been competing since 1966. What makes us unique today is our diversification into three different businesses including a global, high-performance sports car business, McLaren Automotive, and a game-changing technology and innovation business, McLaren Applied Technologies as well as McLaren Formula One team. While our first goal is to win World Championships, we also strive to be a sustainable ongoing business and today we are recognised as one of the world’s most illustrious high-technology brands.

The biggest challenge we face is supporting the growth and speed of innovation across these businesses. IT is fundamental not only to the building of infrastructure and communications technology but also to our high performance culture. Within Formula One our main focus is on improving our performance on the track. Formula One doesn’t operate like a normal business, there are 700 people focused on a getting a car to go around a track as quickly as possible.

The way the car is designed has changed significantly over the last few years. Today much more is done using simulation, modelling and data analysis and the concept of a digital twin for every component of the car is now really important to the Formula One team. We have a huge requirement to drive continuous development through virtual, digital twin versions of our components to make sure that everything we design and engineer at the factory leads to a true on track performance when it reaches the car itself.

A new component is manufactured every 17 minutes, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week, that’s just the pace of innovation, optimization and iteration of every single component on the car that a company needs to operate at to excel in Formula One. From the start of the season to the end of the season around 80% of the components of the car will change. The Formula One car never reaches production status, it’s a continuous-running prototype and all this is underpinned by great technology.

Data is the foundation of making the car go faster and IT is there to support this. At trackside, data is critical as decisions are made at the point of knowledge. There are around 300 sensors on a Formula One car and McLaren will collect around 100 gigabytes of data per car during a race weekend. That data needs to be accessed in real-time by the engineers, both trackside and mission control, in order to be able to make decisions on with the car. Using machine learning and analytics we can dig down into what’s important.

We are never more than a meter away from a piece of Dell Technologies equipment which we use to support our entire IT landscape. Within Formula One we need to ensure that we are finding marginal performance gains within our server estate, our storage estate and our desktop computer estate in order to support the business. Optimizing our own IT performance enables us to optimize the Formula One performance.

About the Author: Paul Brimacombe

Paul leads IT Architecture within the Information Technology function at McLaren Technology Group as well as being responsible for the successful integration of our Technology Partners into the McLaren IT eco-system. Paul joined McLaren in September 2014 after spending 13 years working with UK Police Forces across the South-East of England. Paul leads the development and definition of the technology transformation roadmaps consisting of both core and differentiated platforms and services for the McLaren Technology Group and McLaren Automotive. He also leads the Solution Architecture team in defining investment profiles and operational delivery of new IT services into the Group functions. With a focus on introducing IT innovation into the organization, Paul works closely with McLaren Technology Group’s sponsorship partners to realize opportunities for delivering breakthrough performance using their advanced technologies and services. Paul also recruits and develops several internships and graduate roles each year to bring fresh ideas and new knowledge in to the foundations of our IT team. In previous roles working at Surrey Police Force and on behalf of South East Regional Police IT, Paul held both IT leadership and Senior Engineering positions. In those roles he was the Technical Design Authority responsible for a $50M network and data center transformation project, alongside delivering innovative technology services in the form of mobile process automation, high speed remote video telemetry transfers, and the merger of multiple back office IT systems. Paul has a BSc Hons in Computing and Information Technology from the University of Surrey, and outside of work is married with two children, and enjoys running, cricket, gaming and travel.