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Insight 2023 Keynote Highlighted the Influence of Sport on Transportation Industry

Long-time Formula 1™ executive Mark Gallagher took the mainstage at The Venetian in Las Vegas to host Trimble’s Insight 2023 keynote session, standing just blocks from where Formula 1 will soon hold its first Grand Prix race right on the Vegas strip.

He electrified conference participants by bringing new meaning to what it means to drive connection in transportation, providing a look at the data-driven results used in Formula 1 racing strategy and discussing the vital role technology plays when it comes to optimizing performance and managing risk at 200+ miles per hour.

What's behind it all? Data.

The Formula 1 industry is changing, Gallagher shared. Formula 1 fast cars are the shining representation of ten major technology companies, competing to determine who has the winning combination of the best people and the best technology. Each of these teams design and manufacture world-class technology solutions that harness aerospace technology, automotive technology and information technology. Each car, Gallagher said, can be viewed as a fully connected and data driven device.

These days, he said, it takes a lot more than just one driver to complete a race. In fact, up to 1,800 individuals make up winning teams like Formula 1’s Red Bull franchise. While only a percentage of individuals travel with the team, Red Bull employs hundreds of technology and manufacturing professionals who analyze data, run tests, conduct simulations and stay on top of new innovations.

Data is now driving results in both the racing and transportation industries, and both are quickly shifting from a physical space to a digital one. Long gone are the days where the goal was to simply “drive fast” -- drivers are finding their new goal is to fulfill pre-determined strategies based on millions of simulations.

Pro racer and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen has been plugged into data since age 14, driving the Formula 1 tracks both in video game format and real life over and over until winning was the only outcome. By age 17, he had driven the tracks millions of times, and was ready to begin operating on the speedway as Formula 1’s youngest ever competitor.

The confidence Verstappen has that he will win is almost a fact, because digitally, he’s already won. He is the product of a data transformation within the racing industry, and it’s paying off. Verstappen, with the help of the Red Bull team, has won 15 races across the 2022 season.

Before the checkered flag is waved, the team analyzes trillions of gigabytes of data to prepare. As the race kicks off, millions of people are watching, including principal strategy engineer and data-analyzing pro, Hannah Schmitz. She watches for one of the millions of scenarios her team simulated and analyzed to play out on the track.

Her job is to manage risk, optimize performance and ensure wins, all using her background as a data scientist. As any number of scenarios take place, the team relies on her analytics. This enables them to make speedy decisions driven by the right data and the right insights, in order to gain advantage.

“Once you have a great team with the right values and behaviors, and … great technology that does useful things that enable you to guarantee the outcomes you're looking for, it’s an incredibly powerful combination,” Gallagher said. There is a lot in common between Trimble and Formula 1. Both deal with drivers, safety, technology and complexity in order to ensure great outcomes on the road. Both have goals to produce reliable and robust outcomes for users each and every time.

Protecting drivers with digital tools

“The most important asset that we want to protect are our people,” Gallagher stated. Predictability is key to this endeavor, especially when safety is the number one concern. Formula 1 as a sport has made incredible strides in the way it manages risk – and there is a lot of it when drivers are competing at such high speeds.

A data-driven approach has altered the industry to ensure drivers’ safety. Safety is the first priority in fleets and transportation organizations of all sizes, and this is the case for Formula 1 as well. Formula 1 was once an environment where life-threatening collisions were considered part of the sport – but no longer. Through the years 1950-1994, there were 45 fatalities of drivers. In the last 30 years there has been one fatality.

What can this change be attributed to? Data-driven reasoning and digital transformation. After two consecutive fatal crashes, multiple organizations began to pull data they had never used before from the cars’ onboard computers, and started analyzing it in a different way.

Teams now embrace data and connectivity in order to create safer, more optimal results. The outcome of using this data to manage risk saves lives, even in the worst of crashes like Romain Grosjean's crash at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix. “You realize that's a success story because the driver survived. He’s almost uninjured. We [used data and] designed the car to deal with that,” Gallagher said.

Putting data to work

With the help of data, transportation companies can continue to ensure the safety of their drivers and protect their most valuable asset: people.

“We have moved our capability to entirely new levels as we’ve embraced technology in new and exciting ways,” Gallagher shared regarding Formula 1’s use of data.

Using data to model possible scenarios improves predictability and allows this unique industry to adapt its strategy to prioritize safety. In a world where there are so many variables, the power of harnessing digital technologies is key to optimizing outcomes and driving results.

We will continue sharing valuable insights and key takeaways from Insight 2023 over the coming weeks – keep your eyes on our blog for the latest updates! View all of our Insight 2023 coverage here.