Oracle’s Red Bull Deal Highlights the Power of Data-Crunching in Formula 1

Feb. 9, 2022
In a deal showcasing the growing importance of cloud-powered data crunching, Oracle will become the title sponsor of the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team, with plans to step up the team’s use of computer simulations to enhance performance on the track.

In a deal showcasing the growing importance of cloud-powered data crunching, Oracle will become the title sponsor of the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team, with plans to step up the team’s use of computer simulations to enhance performance on the track.

The upgraded relationship will be critical as Red Bull driver Max Verstappen seeks to defend his world racing championship after a thrilling year-long duel with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes. Red Bull said its 2022 season will feature expanded use of Oracle Cloud for analytics-based race strategy, engine development, AI-powered driver training and a tailored fan experience.

“Data is our lifeblood,” said Christian Horner, Team Principal and CEO of Oracle Red Bull Racing. “We’re a data-hungry business.

“Oracle Cloud enabled us to make race-day decisions that helped Max Verstappen win the 2021 Drivers’ Championship,” Horner said. “Every element of our performance is driven by data analysis. Having Oracle as our title partner shows the confidence we have in their expertise and their ability to deliver a true competitive advantage.”

Details of the Oracle investment were not disclosed, but media reports suggested the five-year deal was worth around $100 million a year. Oracle is investing in the growth of its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), which seeks to gain traction on the “Big Three” cloud platforms from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google.

The deal gives Oracle greater visibility in Formula 1, which is experiencing a surge in popularity in the U.S. behind the popularity of the Netflix “Drive to Survive” documentary series. Oracle becomes the second tech company to serve as a title sponsor of a Formula 1 team, joining IT services firm Cognizant Technology Solutions (Aston Martin Cognizant).

Red Bull says that is use of Oracle Cloud in 2021 boosted the number of simulations they ran by 1,000x, helping improve the accuracy of their predictions and sharpen their decision-making.  Equally important, OCI significantly reduced the cost of billions of simulations, allowing Red Bull to cost-effectively improve performance on the track, a key issue under F1’s more stringent spending regulations for 2022.

“Red Bull Racing has been more committed than any other F1 team in its use of technology to gain an edge, and it is paying off,” said Ariel Kelman, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Oracle. “Our commitment to this partnership reflects our belief that OCI is a strategic weapon on race day, helps create the most exciting fan experience in sports, and can define the future of F1.”

“Our commitment to this partnership reflects our belief that Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is a strategic weapon on race day.”
Oracle’s Ariel Kelman

Simulations Key in Development of 2022 Cars

Data simulations have played a larger role in the run-up to the 2022 season due to a technical update of the Formula 1 racing cars, which is accompanied by a spending capo $140 million per team. The new specs include refinements to make it easier for drivers to race at close quarters, along with new tires that are 18 inches wide (up from 13 last season).

To develop the baseline design and new regulations, The Formula One Group made intensive use of cloud computing capacity from Amazon Web Services, which provides cloud horsepower for everything from computer-aided design for cars to an astonishing suite of data analytics and visualizations for F1 fans..

F1 says it used 500,000 gigabytes – that’s half a petabyte – of data running Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations in the car’s development. CFD cases are a computational model of the entire prototype car (or pair of cars), which simulates the airflow in and around the car, enabling the F1 Motorsport team to accurately quantify the aerodynamic influence of the geometric changes they have made.

“Our CFD models range from 150 to 600 million cells and run on high-specification AWS cloud computing systems,” says FIA’s Head of Aerodynamics Jason Somerville. “The fastest F1 simulation results are returned to us within 2.5 hours of submitting the case.”

How Cloud Data-Crunching Power Accelerates the F1 Racing Experience

It’s hard to overstate the role technology plays in F1 racing. Every F1 car contains 300 sensors which generate 1.1 million telemetry data points per second transmitted from the cars to the pits.

F1 teams rely on partnerships with technology providers, leveraging high-performance computing, machine learning and edge computing to gain an edge on the track. These relationships are also valuable to service providers, showcasing cutting-edge uses for their data center technologies.

Partnership Expands to eSports

This season, OCI will enable the Oracle Red Bull Racing Team to expand the volume and variety of data they analyze and increase the speed at which simulations run in order to better predict tactics that will lead to the podium.

“Oracle Red Bull Racing is, and will continue to be, the most forward-thinking and innovative F1 team in the world,” said Kelman.

The companies announced several aspects of their expanded relationship:

  • Oracle is working with Red Bull Powertrains to develop the next generation of F1 engines set to debut in 2026 as Red Bull Racing becomes one of only four current manufacturers supplying engines for F1. Red Bull Powertrains will use OCI to optimize modeling of its new engine combustion chamber to reduce costs while improving results.
  • In 2022, Oracle Red Bull Racing will incorporate new features and capabilities into The Paddock, the Red Bull Racing fan loyalty platform, including the ability to create user-generated content.
  • Red Bull Advanced Technologies and Oracle are also partnering to help develop the next generation of world-class drivers. Through projects applying AI and machine learning, Red Bull’s junior drivers will better understand how data can inform and fine tune their driving style to reduce their lap times.
  • Oracle Red Bull Racing Esports marks the evolution of a partnership in one of the world’s fastest growing sporting industries, esports. Taking a cue from its real-world counterpart, the Team will use OCI-powered analytics to optimize car set up, improve race strategy, and provide its drivers with training that can help them consistently post ideal lap times on any virtual track, in any simulated weather.

The Formula 1 2022 season begins March 18-20 with the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix in Bahrain.

For a more in-depth look at Formula 1’s use of cloud computing and HPC, see our feature How Cloud Data-Crunching Power Accelerates the F1 Racing Experience.

About the Author

Rich Miller

I write about the places where the Internet lives, telling the story of data centers and the people who build them. I founded Data Center Knowledge, the data center industry's leading news site. Now I'm exploring the future of cloud computing at Data Center Frontier.

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