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DanM
Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

Vroom...there went a 200-mph data collector through the streets of Baku, passing the 15th- century Palace of the Shirvanshahs inside the medieval walls of the city.

 

2021SpanishGrandPrixSaturdayGP2104_133905_54I5301.jpg

 

No other sport uses data as much as racing, and no one is better at utilizing it than F1. Teams have, well, teams of engineers, monitoring everything from tire temperature to the G-forces the driver is experiencing. 

 

When you watch a race, you’ll see the race cameras pan to team members sitting in a row, staring at monitors. What those engineers are staring at intently is the car and driver telemetry. Telemetry allows engineers to understand the performance of the car and driver and allows the team to make real-time decisions.

 

The idea of using telemetry in racing started in the late 1960s. But recording devices were clunky, and the cars shook so much that the data really didn’t amount to anything useful when it did work. Fast forward to the late 1970s, when the concept of using sensors on the car to record data on a cassette tape led to the beginnings of gathering telemetry data.

 

Fast forward even further to the 1990s. Teams took the technology further by adding sensors around the track. A sensor was added to the front of the car, and as the car passed the sensor on the track, the car’s computer would capture the data. Of course, at that time, the wireless technology wasn’t up to par, so teams had to wait for the car to pass the pits in order to capture the data. They even had issues where the signals would get lost when a car went through the tunnel at Monaco or the trees in Monza. That led the teams to create backup systems, so data wasn’t lost in those situations. At one point, F1 allowed for two-way communication so teams could send data to the car to improve the car for the driver. The two-way communication was later banned as F1 decided to roll back on driver aids.

 

Today, with better wireless capabilities and better sensor technology, F1 cars capture data at the rate of 35MB+ of data per lap. Sensors capture hundreds of parameters on each car, and each team has two cars. Do the math there! Yikes!

 

Well, what are they doing with all this data? I mentioned a few things earlier like tire temperature and G-force measurements, but it goes way beyond that. Engineers can look at engine temperatures and can recommend the driver change settings or change the way they drive to cool the engine down. Sensors can pick up vibrations that allow the engineers to discover possible issues that may affect the car later in the race.

 

Drivers even get involved in analyzing the data. The drivers can see where they are slower compared to the rest of the field and adjust. Often, when you see the cars in the garage and a driver staring at a screen, they’re looking at the telemetry around the track and deciding where to try to improve. Drivers can then ask the engineers what was happening with the car at that point to better understand what could be done to improve the setup. Of course, data won’t replace the driver's instinct and feel for the car, but the data can give the driver confidence in their instincts.

 

As you can see, capturing data and rapidly analyzing it during the race is important to the team’s success, and that’s why F1 teams spend so much time analyzing data during the race. Of course, the analysis doesn’t just stop at the track. Data is sent back to the team's headquarters, where data from each race is analyzed to improve the performance of the car during the season and to prepare the car for next season.

 

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a great track to help teams understand the limits of the cars, so data from this track is crucial to win.


Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Baku City Circuit

 

What a follow-up race to Monaco! The Baku City Circuit is another city circuit on the F1 calendar that poses a lot of challenges for the teams: from high-speed straights to windy corners that would scare a normal person. This circuit's first race was in 2016, on the old streets of Baku, where the racers whipped past the medieval walls of the city. 

 

In my opinion, one of the trickiest sections in F1 is on this track: turns 8-12. Before coming to turn 8, the car looks to be driving straight at a wall and then immediately makes a blind hard left into turn 8, and back and forth through turns 10, 11 and 12. This section will test drivers’ abilities. Confidence is also key in this section, especially in qualifying.

 

Practice Recap

Lando Norris #4

FP1 1:43.996

FP2 1:43.018

FP3 1:43.011

 

Daniel Ricciardo #3

FP1 1:43.732

FP2 1:43.298

FP3 1:43.557

 

Qualifying Recap

Lando Norris #4

Q1 1:42.167

Q2 1:41.813 

Q3 1:41.747

 

Daniel Ricciardo #3

Q1 1:42.304

Q2 1:42.558

 

Race Recap

 

The big question of the race was how teams were going to use pit and tire strategies. Many teams were uncertain as to how the soft or hard compound tires were going to manage. We found out very early with a few teams pitting only after a few laps. This included Lando Norris from McLaren. This manoeuvre is what they call in motorsports as an undercut strategy. This strategy is to come in before your competitor to attempt to gain an advantage based on what the team is seeing from the other competitors. This turned out to be the right strategy for Lando later in the race, so it was a good call for McLaren.

 

Both McLaren’s had excellent starting laps and continued to move up the field with both cars moving into points places early in the race. As the laps continued to go by, Lando Norris continued to push, getting ever closer to the next position. It made it apparent that McLaren has pace with Ferrari and continued to solidify the battle that will continue the rest of the year.

As the race continued teams started to get nervous about tire selection, especially teams running the hard tire compound after one car suffered a flat tire earlier than expected for the life of the tire. After the restart from the tire issue with McLarens having good restarts which kept the team in the points for the race.

 

Then came lap 47/51! Where the leader of the race Max Verstappen suffered a left rear tire issue and crashed. This brought out a red flag which means that the race is stopped, and every team must return to pit lane. The question came: would they continue the race or stop it and declare it completed? Fortunately, they decided to continue the race and allow a restart. This was good for McLaren since both drivers had good starts at the beginning of the race. The problem: they would only have two laps after warm up laps to try and move up.

 

The race restarted with the cars at a standstill. Both McLaren drivers got great jumps off the start with Lando pushing himself all the way into 5th. Daniel Ricciardo also moved up but was hit from behind going around turn 1 which may have damaged the car slightly. With only two laps to go there really wasn’t enough time for McLaren to move up which resulted in Lando finishing 5th and Daniel finishing 9th.

 

While the Ferrari drivers finished just ahead of the McLaren drivers, McLaren showed a ton of fight. The craziness of the crashes and tire issues made the race very chaotic and both McLaren drivers and the team came out of the race with a solid result. 

 

 

Azerbaijan 2021 Podium Points Drivers Championship Points Points Constructor Championship Points Points
Sergio Perez 25 Max Verstappen 105 Red Bull 174
Sebastian Vettel 18 Lewis Hamilton 101 Mercedes 148
Pierre Gasly 15 Sergio Perez 69 Ferrari 94

Full F1 results

 



Next Race:

Date: Sunday, June 20

Track: Circuit Paul Ricard

 

Dan Menke
Community Analytics and Operations Manager

Dan is the Community Operations Manager at Alteryx. From optimizing moderation processes, to exploring new engagement techniques, Dan spends his days supporting clients by cultivating great Community experiences.

Dan is the Community Operations Manager at Alteryx. From optimizing moderation processes, to exploring new engagement techniques, Dan spends his days supporting clients by cultivating great Community experiences.

Comments
TreyW
Alteryx Community Team
Alteryx Community Team

This is so rad! Please keep them coming @DanM ! 

 

Signed, 

A budding F1 fan