Covering Disruptive Technology Powering Business in The Digital Age

Home > Archives > News > The Big Data Driving Formula 1 Performance
The Big Data Driving Formula 1 Performance
August 18, 2016 News


Cover a kilometre in 12 seconds flat? That’s fast. Blink, and you’ll miss a football pitch. Sneeze, and you could be in trouble. The stakes are always high in Formula 1 racing, and that intensity drives right through an organisation like McLaren Technology Group, from the C-suite through to the pit stop crew.

Look close enough these days, and you’ll see more than fuel coursing through those specialised engines. Big data is the new liquid lightning, firing up ideas and insights that get channeled back into car design – thousands of modifications each month, in fact.

So says Craig Charlton, chief information officer for McLaren, who recently shared his thoughts in a webcast at SAP headquarters in Walldorf, Germany. With a back-to-basics approach, he broke down McLaren’s IT strategy, which leverages the diminutive to achieve the dynamic.

“Small things that matter,” said Charlton; “that’s always been a focus of mine. Make sure the phones work. Make sure the internet works.” In essence, take care of the basic infrastructure that enables today’s information professionals to do their thing. In turn, your team will feel supported enough to make big things happen.

The ‘small things’ mantra represents one of several policies that demonstrate Charlton’s appreciation for a people-centric approach. Despite all the talk these days of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the fact remains: people are the ones with ideas, and innovation always starts there.

That’s why a culture of innovation matters. How do you foster such a thing? Charlton extols the “fail fast” approach, which encourages people to take chances, with the understanding that no one should be discouraged by a failure. Instead, you should have the courage to fathom your ideas and test them out, but don’t let pride blind you.

He also pointed out the need for an IT infrastructure that’s both robust, and agile. “When you’re bringing a hundred gig of data back from the track each week, you need storage that’s flexible,” he noted. McLaren’s new IT strategy therefore focuses on common platforms wherever possible, coupled with the ability to burst into the cloud as needed.

Charlton went on to describe how his company has effectively branched out into many different domains, from tooth paste to train telemetry.

“The monolithic enterprise resource planner (ERP) is dead,” he said, bluntly, “and SAP knows that, which is why they’ve redesigned their business model. It’s now about core-central ERP, surrounded by business networks, cloud-based solutions, and having a robust integration layer that allows you to move data between the platforms”.

This article was originally published on and can be viewed in full