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Friday, 5 July, 2002, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Renault puts F1 faith in hi-tech
Renault F1 car
Renault team will be relying on a computer system

As the British Grand Prix revs up at Silverstone, Renault driver Jenson Button will be hoping his hi-tech car will drive him to a place on the podium.

The technology infrastructure is as critical to a car's performance as a good driver and the modern Formula One machine is nothing less than a computer on wheels.

The Renault car has over 4,500 components, which are monitored by more than 200 sensors placed around the vehicle.

During the race on 7 July, the computer system will monitor every aspect of the car's performance, from tyre pressures to oil temperature to brake disc wear.

Remote changes

The car's handling is also being carefully watched and the system can tell whether the vehicle is experiencing under or oversteer.

Each decision the driver makes using the controls on the steering wheel is recorded and analysed.

F1 driver Jensen Button
Computer monitors Button's driving
The data provide vital clues to help fine tune individual aspects of the vehicle in time for the next race.

On race day, information is fed, in real-time to engineers based in Oxfordshire and in France, and to the team on the ground at Silverstone.

Every lap driven by the car produces over one megabyte of information which has to be instantly discussed and acted upon on the circuit by the drivers and the pit crews.

It is even possible to remotely change aspects of the car's performance from the various control sensors while it is speeding around the track.

Security vital

Technology company Novell has been providing the 400-strong Renault team with its computer infrastructure since 1998.

"Without a robust IT infrastructure, as well as an outstanding driver, there is no way that teams such as the Renault Formula One team can compete in what is an increasingly sophisticated world," said a spokesman for Novell.

"Access to information is critical," said IT manager for the Renault team Graeme Hackland.

"When the technical director decides whether to have a pit stop or go a few extra laps, he is using the data to make that decision," he said.

The biggest challenge facing the technology team is making sure there is no downtime, which would effectively leave the team unable to function.

Every aspect of the network is duplicated to make sure there is always a path of communication between driver, car and the team.

In the fiercely competitive business of Formula One, it is also vital that the data is secure.

"In such a high-tech sport as Formula One, there is always a danger of someone trying to get information on what your team is doing," said Peter Joseph, Director of Corporate Strategy for Novell.

"A high-level of network security is an absolute necessity."

In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

Our man at Silverstone

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
See also:

21 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
14 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
08 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
03 Jul 02 | Formula One
03 Jul 02 | Formula One
22 Nov 00 | Motorsport
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