AI is poised to disrupt every industry from Marine to Aviation to Motorsport, and in particular Formula One. Since the sport’s inception in 1950, it has thrived by consistently being at the forefront of technology, with cars getting faster, better and more exciting thanks to the newest developments in design and engineering.
Nowadays each F1 car is equipped with around 200 sensors measuring everything from speed to performance, and all that data is streamed into massive servers to be analysed. Engine performance, tire grip, brake function, telemetry, fuel consumption – absolutely everything can be measured and improved upon. This level of detailed analysis is how F1 engineering teams know what to change, how to optimise and keep the sport improving.
But the sheer volume of data is too much for a team to work with. Flooded with information, it can be hard for the engineers to know what to focus on first. That’s where AI comes in.
The F1 engineering team spends most of the race looking at screens, keeping their eyes fixed on incoming data that tells them how the car is performing. All plans and strategies depend on this data, and everything is flexible to accommodate new racing tech developments which are reported in real time.
AI is starting to support Formula One engineers to better understand the finer details of what this data means, and to make widespread changes in more structured and time-efficient ways. The staggering amount of data generated by the cars simply can’t be analysed fully by humans. AI can be programmed to analyse certain elements of the car’s output, or different algorithms can be combined to provide a complete picture of the car’s performance and its position in the race.
AI can help propel the sport to greater heights and may even help keep drivers safe. As with any high-speed or high-tech industry, the capacity for human error is greatest and most dangerous. AI can be programmed to oversee how the car is holding up, how close the tires are to wearing thin and whether it’s necessary to make a pit stop. Already the drivers of the cars take engineer advice about when to make a pit stop, and it’s conceivable that soon AI will notify the driver when they should turn in.
Renault has partnered with Microsoft to utilise AI in both race analysis and general engineering projects to try to make their cars as precisely perfect as possible. Simulations are constantly being run to find new ways to optimise their cars, with AI analysing all the data those simulations provide. This can lead to improved parts, increased aerodynamic performance and even new engine designs.
With AI becoming increasingly powerful, Artificial Intelligence in Motorsport will be able to more accurately analyse data and predict how to improve the car and its performance. However, it may never be able to fully understand the human element that is so vital to Motorsport.