“We all operate in a competitive world”

50% of Formula One’s entire history has featured digital transformation, and it’s a journey that has equipped the industry with the tools to deal with the big challenges that all businesses face today. Behind the scenes, Formula One teams are technology companies that design, manufacture and bring to market a complex product that just happens to be a Formula One car. It’s partly a jet fighter, partly a sports car, but more than anything, it’s a fully-connected device. That’s why the most exciting technological development in F1 is less the cars and more the way in which the different technology solutions are integrated.

As an industry, almost 30% of the budget goes into research and development. Teams buy in technology solutions from a wide range of Tier 1 suppliers, with the supply chain providing a great deal of innovation. These solutions are integrated into the product, allowing the teams themselves to focus on areas that offer a competitive advantage.

“To finish first, you first have to finish”

The most important pillar of the business is ensuring quality of outcomes, of engineering, and of technology, through robust, high-quality solutions that are fit-for-purpose and reliable. Typically F1 teams have about 1,000 employees but the team at the racetrack represents less than 10% – the other 90% is working behind the scenes in a factory or data center. Somehow those 900 people need to deliver every day in the same way that the drivers deliver for the team on a Sunday afternoon. To do this, the team must be fully aligned so that everyone is delivering a competitive advantage over the opposition and over past performance as part of a continuous improvement trajectory.

From factory operations to pit stops, the critical advantages come down to two things: people and process. The people can refine the processes because the data and insights are available from previous events to help build future outcomes. That’s how 22 pit crew can perform 36 individual tasks in under 2 seconds.

“The term ‘functional silos’ fills us with horror”

All 10 F1 teams are extraordinarily impressive organizations with fabulous facilities, excellent technology, and staffed by clever people. What differentiates the winners from those in last position is alignment, teamwork, innovation, problem-solving, and advancing together towards an ambitious goal.

The less competitive teams are siloed. They’re not honest about their problems, they’re not sharing information, and they’re therefore not solving the problems. The Ford Motor Company spent over a billion dollars on Formula One without ever winning in five years of trying but under Red Bull’s leadership, a change in transformation took place where those same people suddenly became winners. Ultimately, the combination of digital technology and teamwork is at the core of how leading F1 teams perform.

“There’s no such thing as unpredictable outcomes, there are simply events”

Formula One drivers can now survive high energy impacts of the kind that would have led to loss of life only five years before because embracing digital to empower data-driven decisions has radically driven powerful outcomes. The car on the track provides 1,000 channels of data in real-time to the leadership team, supported by data analysts trackside. Each 2-car team has 14 workstations operating at the back of the garage, and they’re utilizing artificial intelligence to run millions of potential scenarios to produce optimized strategy outcomes based on the realities of risk. All the key stakeholders are involved in driving that strategy so that the driver has the best chance of achieving the best possible result.

Today’s World Champions are products of the connected, digital world. The teams use a digital twin called a “driver in the loop simulator” to model outcomes and the best results come from the drivers who are most effective at following the algorithms to optimize performance and strategy during the race. F1 racing is no longer a journey of hope, it’s a journey of knowledge and insight and being able to make decisions accordingly.

“Non-negotiable changes”

Formula One has had to change with the times and customers have new expectations that cannot be ignored. To reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, the business model has shifted: digital technology has allowed a 34% reduction in air freight and a 38% reduction in people traveling around the world; instead, data is transmitted and handled centrally, all by harnessing existing technologies. By 2026, F1 engines will no longer run on fossil fuels but, instead, sustainable energy sources.