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Williams F1 team uses biometrics for split-second advantage

Nurdianah Md Nur | Sept. 29, 2017
Graeme Hackland, CIO of Williams Martini Racing, shares why and how his team is using biometrics to achieve perfect pit stops at every Grand Prix.

Graeme Hackland, CIO of Williams Martini Racing,
Graeme Hackland, chief information officer of Williams Martini Racing. Credit: Avanade.

In a sport where a hundredth of a second can make a difference, finding ways to optimise everything affecting the race outcome is crucial in Formula One (F1). The common way of doing so is to fit cars with at least 100 sensors to collect data, which engineers use to make real-time decisions to optimise race strategy.

Since this is not enough to give teams a competitive advantage, the Williams Martini Racing team decided to leverage biometrics to boost the performance of its pit crew. CIO Asia spoke to Graeme Hackland, chief information officer of Williams Martini Racing, to find out more about this initiative.

CIO Asia: Why did the Williams Martini Racing (WMR) team decided to use biometrics to improve its pit stop performance?

WMR's Graeme Hackland: Back in 2012, the Williams team was not winning any awards with their pit stop times, and thus not bringing performance to the race weekends that it would like. Therefore the team undertook an exercise to see how they could transform the pit crew into a winning team again by looking at technology, process and people.

Part of this exercise was to begin analysing the biometrics of the pit crew to drive more understanding of how to improve physical performance. The results are there to speak for themselves; our team won the DHL fastest pit stop award in 2016 for the time of 1.92 seconds at the Grand Prix in Azerbaijan.

This initiative is also part of WMR's overall digital transformation journey with the objective of driving the team back to the front of the grid. We're working with Avanade on this since January 2015.

What sort of biometric data is being collected from the pit crew, and how are you doing so?

Since the 2016 season, WMR and Avanade begun to capture a number of biometric data, including cardiac and respiratory frequencies, body temperature and peak acceleration -- at key positions of the pit crew. In this way, the performance of the pit crews can be specifically adjusted in the critical seconds of the shortstop phase. All real-time data of the individual team members are collected in a database that is supported Microsoft Azure.

The various records are then processed with Microsoft Power BI data visualisation technology and displayed via an analysis dashboard created by Avanade. The Williams performance experts evaluate the information in the dashboards after each race. Improvement potentials in different areas can thus be identified in a better way, to ensure that even more rapid pit stops can be achieved consistently.


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