The 2014 Formula One season kicks off on Sunday in Australia. With its mix of complex technology, leadership, strategy and big business, there are many in the CIO community, including the CIO UK Editor in Chief who has a guilty love for Formula One, well when it is a good season. The last two can be ignored.
The 2014 season sees one of the most significant changes to the rules regarding the cars as Formula One. This year’s cars see the return of turbo chargers, energy recovery systems and strict rules on fuel usage.
Early testing suggests the fizzy drink team Red Bull have failed to interpret the new rules accurately, which has given Mercedes, McLaren and Ferrari, forever associated with innovation, the lead.
With F1 as a business and sport being at the very forefront of business technology leadership, CIO UK has over the last few seasons reported on the technology deals and strategic directions of the Formula One sphere. So with the season kicking off, we thought we’d take a look back at our grid of F1 stories.
As the most successful team from these shores, McLaren CIO Stuart Birrel, formerly CIO of Gatwick Airport, is a top 30 CIO in the 2013 CIO 100.
Current lead driver at Jenson Button won the F1 World Championships in 2008. Which led former motorsports writer Mark Chillingworth to pen:
I headlined the article Tomorrow the world and it became true, he was world champion. Back in June 1994 as a stringer for Autosport magazine I was writing profiles and sports reports of young Britain's hopeful of becoming Formula One world champions. One who caught my eye with his driving talent and good nature was a certain Jenson Button. Back then he was steely focussed on become what he is today, Formula One world champion.
Leaving the motorsport world (one that is basically a business and technology sector, just as I cover today) I watched Button from the side lines and as his career suffered under the management of Briatore at Benetton, rose again at Honda only for it to dip again I wondered if I had got it wrong.
Midway through last year’s season Bill Peters, Caterham F1 IT chief drives Grand Prix end user support Head of group IT at the Caterham F1 team told online Editor Edward Qualtrough about the racing and business opportunities mobile working offered his back of the grid team.
And Graeme Hackland, IT leader at Team Lotus told us about having an application strategy that allows employees to find and develop their own solutions is key to maintaining control of an enterprise IT environment.
In 2011 at about this time of year, Hackland took time to explain his and the role of IT for an F1 team, one that would be a real challenger last year.
Talking of Hackland, resurgent Oxfordshire team Williams, which gave Damon Hill his world championship head hunted Hackland earlier this year.
The year before, another new and struggling team Marussia told Julian Goldsmith about the need for good ERP in an F1 team.
Way back in 2008 Ferrari invited CIO’s Rhys Lewis to Italy to demonstrate the use of High Performance Computing (HPC).
Ferrari hopes its bid for Formula 1 glory and performance car success will get an extra boost from using Microsoft’s newest high-performance computing technology, Windows HPC Server 2008, in its automotive engineering, design and development process.
Red Bull may not be the leading team in Melbourne on Sunday, but they have been dominant and have a consistent strategy of investing in technology.
On a lighter note we compared F1 teams to IT vendors and as we worked with former F1 driver Martin Brundle in 2012, a year of sporting excellence but deep recession for the UK, we looked at the lessons business leaders can take from our sporting success.
As the recession continues to trouble organisations and the recovery is endangered by world events, initial testing results in F1 show two UK based organisations currently looking the healthiest. What can McLaren and Mercedes teach us in 2014. Let the season begin.