As Formula One final in Abu Dhabi nears, drivers will rely on split-second decisions and guidance facilitated by data-driver Tata Communications
Indian company provides connectivity on all 19 tracks throughout season so Mercedes’ Hamilton and Rosberg can chat with technicians overseas during race; builds infrastructure for broadcasters’ live feeds to global audience.
As this year’s Formula One season draws to an end, with the final race to take place in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, viewers keen to get as close to the action as possible have India’s Tata Communications to thank for helping facilitate the live feeds that broadcasters send out to a global audience.
Mercedes’ teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg currently top the standings, with the Briton on 363 points and his German teammate on 297. Sebastian Vettel sits in third place on 266. Hamilton already clinched his third world title a few weeks ago, but that won't stop him from giving all he has at the season-ender.
Tata Communications provides the connectivity for the F1 track, as well as the content delivery network which lets die-hard fans watch the action live on television.
“This year marked the fourth year of our association with Formula 1,” said Mehul Kapadia, managing director for the company’s F1 business.
Technicians and specialists from the company arrived at the Yas Marina Circuit six days before this weekend’s races to start building the official technical centre.
The massive 750-square-metre building uses enough electricity to power a small town and houses almost 150 tonnes of equipment, including servers, cables and networking hardware. It will be torn down after the race.
This is where the times for each car are calculated down to the last millisecond, and where live video feeds of the race are delivered from the track.
Over 25 broadcasters stream feeds from the centre to their respective TV networks, according to Walia, allowing fans to watch the races in real-time and root for their favourite drivers.
“We provide connectivity to the race tracks for all 19 F1 races,” said Sumeet Walia, head of the company’s global enterprise business.
“Each track provides one gigabyte of connectivity.”
“A lot of people associate F1 with cutting-edge technology, and we’ve been able to demonstrate that,” he added.
WATCH: Tata Communications powers remote ops for F1
The centre, and all the equipment that comes with it, slowly starts coming apart halfway into the actual race.
An hour after the race ends, all the equipment is packed and ready to be flown to the next race destination – where the process begins all over again.
China gets its share of the F1 action each year by hosting a race in Shanghai in April.
The Chinese Grand Prix, held at the Shanghai International Circuit, is the third race on next year’s schedule, with 56 laps of the 5.451-kilometre-long track.
“With our technology leadership, we are set to bring yet another great season,” said Kapadia.
While the results hinge on driving finesse, powerful machines and breakneck speeds, behind the scenes it’s a different story.
Apart from providing race track connectivity, Tata Communications also provides data connectivity support for the Mercedes F1 team. Ask the company and its technicians will tell you the sport is largely data-driven.
Over 150 sensors on each of the driver’s cars send back a wealth of data to a team of technicians, who analyse it and make split-second decisions about how to tweak the gearbox or engines to give Rosberg or Hamilton their best chance of a win by squeezing out every last drop from their machines.
Race data is also sent flying across the world in the fraction of a second to a team of strategists at Mercedes’ factory in the UK. They help the drivers make crucial strategic decisions such as when to make a pit stop.
“We provide a lot of the technology that lets Mercedes communicate with their back offices and factories,” said Walia.