5 Keys To HPE’s Innovation-Fueled Formula 1 Partnership With Mercedes-AMG Petronas

Matt Harris, the Head of IT at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, says HPE innovation has given the team performance advantages from the factory to the track.

Everything Is Faster

Matt Harris, the head of IT at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Team, says HPE technology and services have made everything a “bit faster, a bit quicker, a bit better.”

That’s no small matter given the importance of technology in the intensely competitive world of Formula 1 racing.

“If I can make your job more reliable, faster and better, that will support with adding laptime to the car,” says Harris.

Technology is crucial in the Formula 1 world where one tenth of a second separates winners from losers.

“Technology is key to everything we do whether that is event simulations, CFD (computational fluid dynamics) for the car, upgrade ideas, or strategies, like should we pit under a safety car or not?” said Harris, who has headed up IT for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport for the last decade.

HPE Apollo - Reducing Race Day Simulations From 4 Days To 1 Day

HPE’s high performance compute Apollo system has reduced the time it takes to do complex race day simulations for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 car from four days to just one, said Harris.

“We do a lot of pre-event simulations,” says Harris. “Those simulations used to take us around four days. That meant if you wanted the results before the car was running on a Friday you would run those on a Monday, get the results by Thursday, and then make some decisions based on those results.”

With the Apollo system, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport race engineers and strategy team are now able to do race day simulations on Friday and even Saturday morning before the Sunday race, said Harris.

“That means we can have the best possible version of the car ready based on actual data,” he said.

HPE Edgeline Systems At Trackside

The breakthrough HPE Edgeline converged systems – HPE’s mainstay edge compute product offering- has provided critical advantages in harsh trackside conditions.

The Edgeline systems are used at trackside to help Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport make critical edge compute race day decisions.

“What we are able to do with the Edgeline is provide faster visualization information, better quality, more robust as well,” said Harris. “Before we had a single PC with a single power supply. What we have got now is an Edgeline chassis with four cartridges with multiple power supplies, multiple NICs (network interface cards). We’ve got redundancy built-in. We’ve got better air throughput. We’ve got better cooling, better tolerance for the environment. That gives the race engineers the ability to give both our drivers better information, more accurately and in finer detail.”

Back in the factory, thousands of Edgeline cartridges in an HPE high performance compute Moonshot system provide computational fluid dynamics (CFD) scenarios - a wind tunnel in a computer of sorts- to help design the team’s Formula 1 race cars.

HPE Pointnext Services

Hewlett Packard Enterprise Pointnext services talent that is embedded with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport is key to the partnership, said Harris.

In fact, a member of the Pointnext team is part of IT team meetings and decision making, said Harris.

What’s more, an HPE Pointnext data scientist is part of the team putting in place “machine learning algorithms and technologies and solutions to help us automate some of our workloads,” said Harris.

In addition, HPE Pointnext is helping with providing an Aruba architecture from the factory to trackside.

HPE’s Pointnext, in fact, is “an extension of the team in many ways,” says Harris.

Part of that means being cool and calm under intense race day pressure.

“The race team on track and in the Race Support Room at Brackley have to be able to have a calm head in all situations,” Harris said. “If they have a really big problem area, being calm and being able to act on everything in a succinct, straightforward way is important. This also applies to our IT operations, and HPE Pointnext brings that as a consultancy in the same way that we expect from the rest of our IT team.”

HPE’s Innovation Culture

The innovation culture fostered by HPE CEO Antonio Neri (pictured) has been key to the success of the partnership, said Harris.

“I have been fortunate enough on many occasions to talk with (HPE CEO) Antonio (Neri) and others from the (HPE) senior management team,” said Harris. “Antonio talks about innovation a lot. That is one of the synergies we have with HPE. As a team and a company without innovation we are going to go backwards. If we stood on a treadmill and we are just walking along we go backwards. We have to be running as fast or faster or quicker than everybody else. Innovation is at the core of what we do. It is key to both companies. It is a very important thing for both of us.”

One of the secrets to the success of the partnership, said Harris, is the shared innovation culture of the HPE and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport employees.

“Culture is important,” said Harris. “You can’t do innovation just with technology. You need the people and the mindset.”

HPE Technology = Data Insights

HPE’s technology and services have been key to helping drive better race day decision making, said Harris.

“Every decision we make is based on data,” says Harris. “Whether that comes from data the driver will give us via verbal communication or whether it is structured information and time series data from the car, we are always making decisions based on that data.”

Feedback on car, track and tire conditions from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas is put back into the data loop, said Harris.

“When the drivers tell their race engineers something, they then go and look at the data to find the root cause for that comment,” he said. “They will then engineer a solution based on that data, and then run the car again to get feedback from the driver about whether it is better or not.”

HPE technology and services “provides support to” a plethora of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport decision making, says Harris.