Formula 1 | A little known but central job in F1: track engineer in charge of electronics

Its role is unknown, but still essential in modern F1: the circuit engineer in charge of electronics monitors the grain during every Grand Prix weekend on F1 teams.

When we know the amount of data collected by the pilots in each relay, and when we know its usefulness in finding the best parameters, we can better measure the central role that these men and women play in the shadows. Just think of those pilots who, between two classification periods, study the telemetry data in their cabins.

Paolo Pierro performs this role at Ferrari. On the occasion of the Canadian Grand Prix, he described behind the scenes his work.

“I am responsible for the electronics of the circuit. I am in charge of managing all the electronics during the race weekend and during the preparation period. Specifically, I coordinate the activities of the staff in charge of the electronics. , which covers all the electrical components of the car (sensors, wired and wireless communications), the operation and programming of the strategy software, and the management output controls. ”

“But electronics is also the communication systems to and from the car, among all the engineers and mechanics, as well as the telemetry systems of the car and the transmission of images in Formula 1.

“Electronics also affect garage work with the car’s interface and power supply, as well as electronics for pit stops.”

So this week, F1 is in Montreal: does this circuit pose any particular challenge or is Pierro’s work similar from Grand Prix to Grand Prix?

“The circuit is 4,361 meters long and the race lasts 70 laps. Its features, including the fork at turn 10 and turn 13 at the Champions Wall, are very harsh on the brakes. This is the circuit where, more than any other, we pay attention to the temperatures of the brake disc to ensure that the measures we have implemented are always consistent and effective. We must also make sure that the “brake-by-wire” system, which controls the rear brakes and adjusts the balance of the brake by means of an electric motor, always reacts in milliseconds and does not lose performance. »

Pierro, like every weekend, will have a lot of work to do. The head of Ferrari offers some impressive figures that reveal the extent to which the era of modern F1 is also the age of data.

“The telemetry system of a Formula 1 car requires a bandwidth of about 1 Mb / s to send in real time, for about 10,000 channels. Each channel operates on a different frequency. When the car enters the pits and we download the data, we have up to 40,000 channels available.Then they are used to generate channels processed in the field (in practice, high-level information is extracted from the sensor information that allows us to control the reliability and performance “The number of these channels is even higher during Friday’s tests where we have some additional acquisitions. This means that 50 GB of data will have to be managed for each Grand Prix.”

“The communication system is even more interesting: there are about 60 internal communication channels, 40 of which are transmitted to the remote garage of Maranello. During a race weekend, there are about 5,000 internal communications, including a thousand during the race alone. Communications with or between mechanics account for 1,000 more communications, while engineers transmit about 150 communications per weekend with each driver. »

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