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Relaying commands, Formula 1 style

Relaying information from point A to B in motorsports' most basic and grassroots form usually involves nothing more than holding out a board with the most essential information a driver needs to get through the course of a race. Vinayak Pande reports.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2011 00:08 IST
Vinayak Pande
Vinayak Pande

Relaying information from point A to B in motorsports' most basic and grassroots form usually involves nothing more than holding out a board with the most essential information a driver needs to get through the course of a race.

But what happens when you go a little further up the ladder? Way, way up the ladder, all the way to Formula One where information has to be sent from point A to B to C to D? Mercedes GP gave HT access to its pit garage just four hours prior to the start of the Indian Grand Prix, while the W02s of Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg were being stripped down and thoroughly worked on by a swarm of engineers and mechanics.

Tucked away behind the main bay of the garage was a room with analysts collecting and breaking down telemetry gathered over the three practice sessions and qualifying. The purpose was to translate all that data into information that could be relayed to the two drivers' race engineers who sit on the pit wall during the course of the race along with team principal Ross Brawn. That takes care of A to B to C.

Point D, however, is where things get really interesting. The data analysts at the Buddh International Circuit, share information with another team of analysts who are sitting in Mercedes GP's headquarters in Brackley, Great Britain some 9,500km away during the course of the 60-lap race. This information is also processed by the analysts and relayed to the race engineers who then relay it to Rosberg and Schumacher.

The pit wall is not allowed to make any remote changes to F1 cars as was allowed in the past, so being succinct yet informative is of paramount importance. A good example of this is the radio message sent out to Schumacher before his second and final stop informing him that his soft tyres were good enough to be used for an extended period of time.

The longer stint then allowed Schumacher to get ahead of Rosberg.