Curiosity led us to a visit to Aston Martin’s HQ in Bahrain, which also happens to be Red Bull Racing’s F1 motorhome, so things were quite awesome!
By the time Adrian Newey finally got the influence, the spare time, the CV and the partner to do the Valkyrie, his hair was gone, he had been bestowed an OBE and his cars had won 4 championships in F1. Much like when Jerry Seinfeld was told no, once and again, to his new series of comediansincarsgettingcoffee(.com), the question was “What do you have to do, for people to think you know what you are doing?”.
Granted, there are no reports that Newey ever broached the subject to Nissan/Infiniti, but when Aston Martin entered the F1 fray with the Red Bull team, Newey could hardly ever have found a better partner with which to develop his childhood dream. And timely so as well, for the latest hypercar yet to hit the market, will still be powered by a combustion engine.
Fortunately, we will be able to have a full report when Aston gives us one for a long-term test. Probably. Maybe.
We visited Aston Martin’s HQ at the Bahrain GP, which also happened to be the Red Bull F1 motorhome. Well, this is Bahrain, so the motorhome is actually a brick and mortar villa, where we had the opportunity to watch closely the preparations for the greatest show on earth.
It is the second GP of the season, and in Australia, Ricciardo managed not only a 4th place, but also to stay within the margin of error of a podium. Finished just 7.3s behind the winner, and former teammate Vettel but 20s ahead of the 5th, a surprised McLaren. This means RBR has a chance this year. Thus, motivation and expectations are at the highest state for the entire team.
Entering the belly of the team we learn very curious things about the F1 world. For example, most of the common parts travel around with the motorhomes, the cars, the equipment, etc. But the track specific and latest improvements cannot be entrusted to even the best of courier companies. Solution? Hand carry. Red Bull has a department that takes care of booking the flights of the people that will take specific bits of the car, directly from the factory to the track as their luggage. They even offer these trips to people in the factory to volunteer for an economy ticket carrying a, for example, new front wing. I am sure the conversations with customs officials deserve a book.
Another curious thing that you don’t expect to see near a race track is a data center. And that’s precisely what they have. A bank of nearly 50 servers that are monitoring every aspect of the entire process. AT&T provides a backbone that connects to the factory, where a team of engineers are continuously studying the data. Every race generates close to 400Gb data.
We asked about BigData analytics and AI to parse through it all and revert insights and, while IBM, proud parents of the Watson quantum computer, has approached them to start working on it, Red Bull is not yet ready to undertake the task. What this really means is that, while the F1 is paradigm of technological advancement towards speed, whatever we have seen so far has come out of people thinking long and hard. Just imagine what the F1 will become once machines start giving the engineers the technical insights no person could ever see through millions of lines of data.
Ever smiling Daniel Ricciardo feels confident about the season and expects very good results. We only had two and a half minutes with him though, and he had a helmet on, and he was thrashing around the Bahrain track sideways in an Aston Martin Vanquish S. The most surprising of the whole experience was to learn that, while on the F1 car they use the left foot for braking, on the Aston, skidding around, he uses the right foot for throttle and brakes. Hmm…