A look inside digital innovation with Williams F1

  • Posted on April 9, 2015

This is a guest post from Williams Martini Racing's IT Director, Graeme Hackland. 

The start of the season is an exciting time in Formula 1. Every team believes they've done the best job they can and are targeting a better season than the year before. For Williams Martini Racing, we see the team as a serious challenger to our bigger, better funded rivals.

We want to be competing for championships again, so we're putting everything in place that's needed to make that a reality – people, processes and technology. A key component of this is digital – it’s what will make the difference between being at front of the grid and being at the back. That’s why we are working with Avanade on a digital transformation that will help us to compete for championship titles once again. We believe digital transformation can have that kind of impact.

Most Formula 1 fans tend to focus on the car and the driver. But behind the scenes at Williams F1, there are around 600 people working every day to improve that car by hundredths, even thousandths, of a second, race by race. Enabling that team of hundreds is the hidden challenge of Formula 1 and while it may be ignored by many, it’s critical. Without an effective and efficient team working behind the scenes, your car won’t even make it onto the grid.

Formula 1 technology is the constant change, either for compliance with the rules or the natural development that happens during a season. We never stand still, we constantly innovate and we find out at every Grand Prix throughout the season how we are doing! To achieve in this environment, we have to be able to unlock information and put it in the hands of people who can use it to make data-driven decisions rather than relying on instinct.

There's huge demand to transform processes and technology across the entire business, covering the whole lifecycle of the Formula 1 car, from aerodynamics and design to manufacturing and race engineering. We need to accelerate and improve how information passes between teams, in order to make that lifecycle much quicker.

This can happen in a number of ways. It could be the graphical user interface the engineers use that's suddenly so much easier for them to work. Or, it could be improving the workflow with an electronic system where they can push a button and receive the information they need, instead of relying on hundreds of pieces of paper.

Together with Avanade, we're moving forward in the digital space to transform the way we work. While the Williams F1 team has always been one of the most innovative in Formula 1, we’re continue to push the boundaries on and off the track!

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