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Inside McLaren

The British Grand Prix arrives in Silverstone, UK, (14th – 16th July) and as an Official Technology Partner of the McLaren Honda Formula One Team, SAP are taking you behind the scenes of the home of McLaren Racing – the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK.

This state of the art building has technology at its soul, encompassing four distinct and highly technical companies that form the McLaren Technology Group – McLaren Applied Technologies, McLaren Automotive, McLaren Commercial and the McLaren Honda Formula One Team.

Each company shares the core values of innovation and the pursuit of excellence. But they share another common factor too, with SAP Technology being implemented and run throughout the entire McLaren Technology Group, including Finance and HR, to help aid decision making, improve business processes and drive performance.

Mission Control is the nerve centre for every race - it’s where the weekend race strategy is developed, and ultimately where the race is controlled. Wherever the team are racing in the world, and any time a car hits the track, this room is live with engineers in team kit supporting the team at the track. However, in Mission Control the atmosphere is calm and quiet, away from the emotion, heat and distractions at track. And it’s here the team have access to the most data.

Each car has up to 200 sensors sending information back to the team in the garage and the engineers in Mission Control in real time, monitoring everything from car speed and fuel use, down to sensors monitoring pressure of fluids and wear of components. Inside Mission Control, the engineers monitor the McLaren cars to chase the best set-ups and devise the best strategy for their drivers during the race.

Before, during and after a race, data is analysed and assessed using SAP HANA which plays a vital role in enabling engineers to devise the team strategy.

Nathan Yendell, Software Development Manager at McLaren Racing, explains: “SAP HANA has really changed the way that we use software in McLaren Racing. The key to Formula One is being able to understand data. Going back a few years, the team would have had to use a traditional data warehouse. You had to know which questions you needed to ask beforehand. The SAP and McLaren Technology Group Partnership, and the integration of SAP HANA has allowed the team to think about questions on the fly, run them across a whole season of data, and then get the answers within less than 10 seconds. Just looking at the data from one session, or one day, may not be enough to spot trends in the data. With SAP HANA the team can aggregate that with the historical data from almost 4 seasons to spot the trends and patterns.”

Being able to spot trends and patterns, and using historical data to inform strategy, plays a crucial role in how teams devise their setup and approach over a race weekend. Silverstone has hosted over 50 Formula One Grands Prix – so that’s over 50 times Formula One teams have raced around the same, or slightly modified, circuit. And whilst data didn’t play such a pivotal role in the early years, since technology arrived on the scene that’s still a lot of years’ of data and information gathered at one track over numerous years that provides vital knowledge and insight for a team.

Back at Mission Control in the run up to race week, McLaren’s Engineers will be working with SAP HANA to interrogate billions of data points from over 17,000 parameters to assist them in their pre-race preparations and post-race analysis. Providing sub-second answers to queries and faster access to information, with SAP HANA the team can make quick comparisons and solve problems in record time. And in a sport as fast as Formula One which demands being able to harness the power of big data, a second can make a significant difference.

We hope you enjoyed the first chapter of the Inside Track. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep an eye out for the next edition.