AT&T keeps the Williams F1 team racing

Friday, 13 March, 2009

Formula One is the most technologically advanced motor sport in the world and from 2007 onwards the AT&T Williams team has been able to tap into the AT&T global network and the company’s in-house expertise, technology and know-how as a worldwide resource at the teams’ disposal.

Working closely with the AT&T Williams team creates an opportunity to showcase AT&T’s networking technology around the world in one of the most demanding, time-sensitive, high-profile and unique environments. This was in evidence this year in Melbourne at the first of the demanding F1 race circuits. Without technology the teams and the F1 would not exist. For example, the race cars at the end of the season can be up to 70% different to how they started at the beginning of the season, except for the engine.

AT&T provides the team with a full suite of advanced IP-based communications services, including a virtual private network (VPN) that provides secure and reliable communications from the race track in Melbourne to the team’s headquarters near Oxford in the UK.

AT&T has also implemented a comprehensive, fully managed communications solution for the team including voice over IP (VoIP), web hosting, on-site support and other services.

Telemetry, the process of logging data from over 100 on-car sensors, allows the team to understand mechanical, aerodynamic and electrical/control issues with the cars.

The data is transmitted via an encrypted radio link to the computer network at the track and transferred to the UK via the VPN service.

The AT&T Williams drivers and engineers at the track will make the final decision on the set-up configuration; however, as they have to make the decisions in a short space of time, they often call on additional engineers based in the UK to perform specific analyses and solve complex problems. Competitive differentiation is vitally important with a huge amount of computer power needed. A 13 Teraflop super computer and two wind tunnels are used in the process. They need the scalability that AT&T provides to handle the huge troughs of usage of the team website.

Having the fight technology is even more important in 2009 because of the changes in regulation to the racing rules. The race might only be for the duration of 1 hour and 40 minutes so using the data from the telemetry sensors to analyse the drivers and how they are driving is vital.

The benefits of the relationship for the AT&T Williams team are more than just a multiyear, multimillion-dollar commitment from a title sponsor. AT&T technology is being deployed to directly improve performance and resources available to the team in the demanding world of motor sport where pushing the boundaries of technology is key to success.

And the last word goes to Rod Nelson, Chief Operations Engineer at Williams F1, who explains the broader benefit of the technology, “Beyond using the data transfer over a Grand Prix weekend to help make immediate decisions we also start to use this straight away to prepare for the 2010 season, which is necessary as the F1 season does not finish until November.”

And the results for the AT&T Williams team from Melbourne — Nico Rosberg finished 7th and the other driver, Kazuki Nakajima, ended up crashing into the wall.

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