How data analytics helped Lewis Hamilton win the Formula One drivers' championship

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Balancing data collection with race performance

Source:  Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

Over the course of a race weekend, the Mercedes F1 car is constantly relaying data back to engineers in the pits, and on to the team’s headquarters in Brackley, a town about eight miles from the UK’s Grand Prix track at Silverstone.

But all those sensors add weight to the car – and extra weight means the loss of vital seconds when qualifying for the race is decided, with thousandths of a second making the difference between first and second on the grid.

About 50% of all the data collected during a race weekend is captured during practice runs on the Friday; about 30% during qualifying on the Saturday, and only 15% during the actual race – the rest gathered incidentally.

The team removes sensors from the car as the weekend progresses, mostly to reduce the weight but also because there is a diminishing return on the value of data collected as race day approaches.

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