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The Velocity Project

Explore how data makes fast go faster with this interactive race where you can adjust the wing, chassis and wheels using real-time data.

Caterham F1 Team

Caterham F1 Team works with Dell to deliver success. Dell supports Caterham with high performance computing and trackside laptops for race days.

F1: The man with the knowledge

Jody Egginton has had several roles at Caterham F1. Now as head of design and manufacturing, his job is simple: get as much performance to the CT05 as possible.

By Hans Seeberg

Jack of all trades, master of most of them: That just about sums up Jody Egginton, Caterham F1’s head of design and manufacturing.

“I was a designer many moons ago,” Egginton says. “I’ve been a race engineer and a chief engineer, I’ve been head of operations and I’ve controlled budgets as well,” he laughs. “I’m very good on Excel and PowerPoint too!” Yet his variety of experience makes him ideally placed, because as head of design and manufacturing, he’s required to have a knowledge about all the departments that contribute to make a Formula One™ car. As Egginton himself says, “You’ve got to know something about everything.”

Turning design into reality

Egginton’s job requires him to be part designer, part organizer. “I’m responsible for the design process, from initial concept through to parts being delivered to the car,” he says. “Somebody else is responsible for the performance aspect including ideas and concepts – my role is heading up the group of people who turn that into reality. For example, if the aero or CFD [computational fluid dynamics] department have come up with a development that has proved its worth in either CFD or the wind tunnel, then we take that design and turn it into a full-size, usable part.”

The suspicion is always that because aerodynamics is where the biggest performance gains are to be made on Caterham F1′s CT05 racing car, that department will always get its way in the designing of parts. Egginton says that’s broadly true – to a point.

“If the aero team find some performance that’s considered sufficient to put on the car and is within budget, my role is about making sure that it’s designed and manufactured how aero intended, and that it’s robust enough, or not too light or heavy,” he says. “If aero come up with a great idea but we can’t get it onto the car with the correct mass, any time you find aerodynamically might be lost due to the weight of the part. I’m the reality check to whether a part is worth doing or not.”

Preparing for Austria

Given that all F1 teams rely on a strict schedules and tight organization, Egginton is involved when the teams are preparing for a race – and his experience has never been more crucial than in the run-up to the Austrian Grand Prix. The Red Bull Ring, or A1-Ring as it used to be known, has not hosted an F1 race since 2003, meaning that Caterham F1 – like several teams on the current grid – have never raced there. Yet it’s not as much of an issue as you’d think.

“It’s amazing how much data you can gather from other teams that have run there,” says Egginton. “For example, when this team was set up in 2010 we didn’t have data for any tracks. But we set up relationships with a number of GP2 and Formula 3 teams for data exchange, so they would send us a speed trace, which is a useful bit of information to have to start conducting your simulation work, regardless of what car it came from. So even now with the Red Bull Ring, we know the Tarmac type, we know the circuit characteristics, we have all the data on whether it’s a longitudinal or latitudinal circuit, how long the straights are, the elevations and the altitude changes, and the nature of the corners. It shouldn’t be a major issue.”

The drivers have also been able to practice for Austria in the simulator, which is another vital tool to help the team prepare for the race. “These runs aren’t based on historic data because we don’t have any,” says Egginton, “so they’re based on the usual things: We’ll have to decide how to get the most out of the tire compounds chosen for the race; we’ll configure the basics of our car; then once we’re there it’s about the drivers learning the circuit and fine-tuning the setup.”

Performance is a priority

It might seem like everyone in a F1 team sits around analyzing data, but Egginton isn’t one of them. “My days of sitting in the operations room and poring over data are long gone!” he laughs. “My priority now is that we’re working on the rights parts, because we only have a finite amount of resource. There’s a lot of simulator work involved – we’re currently getting our 2015 model together – but ultimately my job is about helping to get as much performance to the car as possible.”

The Dell kit Egginton uses

“Up until three weeks ago I had the same Dell Precision mobile workstation I was issued in January 2010 when I joined the team! It was amazing. Egginton says. “But because I don’t spend my days doing simulations or looking at huge files, I’ve got a Latitude laptop now. When I was trackside I’d have six or seven bits of heavy-duty software open at once; now I mainly use Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook – when I’m not running around with bits of paper!”
 

IDC: Dell & Caterham F1

It has a television audience of around 450 million viewers for each of the 19 races, putting it right up there with the Olympic Games and the FIFA soccer world cup as a global event.

Television revenues are in the billions of dollars. Racing teams are major enterprises, with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars... and ICT plays a key role their success. This IDC document reviews the importance of ICT in Formula 1 by focusing on the role of Dell as Technology Partner of the Caterham F1 Team.

 

The vital F1 job you never see on TV

You won’t catch Juan Ramirez at a grand prix, but his work as Caterham F1’s head of vehicle dynamics is critical to the team.

By Hans Seeberg 

When you think of the technical brains that help to design a Formula One™ car and run a team like Caterham F1, you often picture the people who are either on the pit wall or studiously analyzing data in the garage. But there are lots of people behind the scenes who you never see on TV, whose painstaking work is vital to the running of the car. For Caterham F1, one such person is Juan Ramirez, head of vehicle dynamics.

Complex role

Ramirez’s role is both fascinating and rather complicated. “Basically, I’m in charge of the department that looks after the dynamic behavior of the car,” he says. “I also look after the performance of the suspension systems and the interaction of all the components of the car – particularly the behavior of the aerodynamics and tires. So we cover the whole performance envelope of the CT05 and try to understand how the different systems interact with each other so that we can optimize what we’ve got.”

It’s a largely factory-based role that doesn’t require Ramirez to pack a suitcase and head to a racetrack nearly 20 times a year – but while many other members of the team are traveling all over the world, he will often be found in one of two places in the Caterham F1 factory: the simulator or by the seven-post rig. “We need to understand how an area like aerodynamics affects car behavior and tires, so for that we rely on simulation tools and our rig tester,” he explains. “We’re constantly going between the virtual world and the real one.” 

Pre-race focus

So as head of vehicle dynamics, how does Ramirez’s role help the team prepare for a race like the Canadian Grand Prix? The answer is simple: with a lot of data analysis. “We’ll do a series of support studies for each race, particularly in relation to the suspension and brakes,” he explains. “We give recommendations for particular items on the set-up of the car.”

Both the location of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the challenges it presents make Montreal one of the most popular destinations on the calendar for F1 teams. But given its characteristics, it means that Ramirez has to help make some critical decisions in the run-up to the race. “Montreal is quite a unique track in the sense that it’s demanding on braking stability and traction,” he says. “The brakes take a lot of pressure during the race, so making sure we’re optimized for braking behavior and braking stability is one of the key items we work on beforehand. Traction is an important area as well. Montreal is a bumpy track but the surface is normally pretty smooth with very little grip, so maximizing mechanical grip is absolutely critical.”

That Friday feeling

Whereas most of Caterham F1’s personnel at the track is gearing up for the race on Sunday, Ramirez’s work in vehicle dynamics reaches its peak on the Friday of a grand prix weekend. “Once track running is underway on the Friday we’ll be keeping an eye on the behaviour of certain systems, particularly the suspension,” he explains. “Friday is the critical day for us in vehicle dynamics, as that is when most of the set-up changes take place or test items are put on the car. We’ll support on data analysis, possibly making further recommendations based on what we feel may further improve the car’s performance. We’re not only analyzing how particular systems work, but how they compare to previous races this season or even in previous years.

“We then enter a phase of event support and will help the team on Saturdays if needed, although there’s sometimes less need for that – once qualifying starts there’s very little we can offer because of parc fermé. Our only real chance to make recommendations is after FP3. Hopefully we’ll have helped as much as we can and answered any questions coming from the track by the end of the Friday, so that the team can prepare the car for qualifying on Saturday.”

Computing power

All in all, Ramirez’s role provides indispensable insight for the team in the days leading up to a grand prix – and it couldn’t be done without the impressive technical resources at Caterham F1’s disposal.  “Nowadays, Formula 1 is all based around huge computing power, and most of the things I use in my role are simulation tools that require a lot of power,” he says. “But vehicle dynamics is a very important area, because it’s about gaining a fundamental understanding of how the race car works.”

The Dell kit Ramirez uses

“I use a Latitude laptop – it’s the same one I used when I was a race engineer, actually! It’s a great machine for the data analysis software and basic simulation tools we use, but if I need anything for really heavy computing I’ll jump on another machine.”