Executive Perspectives

Agility is About More than Speed: McLaren’s Winning Data-Cloud-Efficiency Formula

McLaren Racing’s 60 years of competing in motorsport championship history is legendary. Innovation is in its DNA and the racing team is well known for using technology to break new ground. That’s why it was a thrill to have Ed Green, Head of Commercial Technology, sit down with us to talk about how McLaren looks beyond speed to power performance with data, machine learning, hybrid cloud, and more.

McLaren’s Formula 1 team has unleashed many technological firsts through the years including being the first to capture car data. They started with one temperature sensor, then moved to 26 sensors, and today they build as many as 300, on average, into each vehicle. This, in effect, creates a fast-moving edge IoT device that flies around the racetrack at speeds of over 200 miles per hour.

Ed says pushing the team and its cars to the limit wouldn’t be possible without data and machine learning tools and embracing the idea of human-in-the-loop systems, which enable better decision-making and support driver safety.

Moving to a software-defined world and becoming more agile is really important for McLaren, but Ed says he doesn’t view agility in the traditional sense of being able to quickly respond to new business demands. That definition doesn’t cut it in Formula 1.

“You’ve got to be thinking ahead of demand. You’ve got to be thinking about what’s going to come next,” he says. “Being agile isn’t just about speeds and feeds and who can do something the quickest. Sometimes it’s about how efficient you can be.”

Ed Green, Head of Commercial Technology, McLaren Racing

Efficiency has become a central focus as the new era of the cost cap has emerged in Formula 1, limiting the amount a team can spend on its cars over the duration of a calendar year. As a result, racing teams are turning to technology for answers.

“We’re motivated to consume on-premise technology and we’ve got hybrid cloud in other parts of our business, so it is truly a patchwork environment,” Ed explains. Among his biggest concerns are being efficient with these systems and keeping them up and running for McLaren’s software engineers and strategists.

In a sport where speed has always held the key to victory, it’s clear the path to success is changing. As technology plays a larger role, Formula 1 is no longer just a game of being as fast as possible. It is also a game of efficiency, data intelligence, and much more.

Watch the video to hear more from Ed Green on what’s driving innovation and agility at McLaren.