How SAP Is Enabling Pinpoint Accuracy In Formula E

The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is all about precision. From the millimetre-thin adjustments drivers make to their racing lines as they reach speeds of up to 250 km/h through to the detailed calculations required to optimise and conserve power consumption on race day, it’s a sport that competes on the finest of margins.

Since the sport’s debut in 2014 in Beijing, races have been won or lost based on decisions made in fractions of a moment. And I’m not just talking about the driver’s instincts and judgement calls on the track. Behind every driver is an entire team of support staff, analysts, mechanical engineers, operational teams, painters and many more, all of whom align on the same principles of accuracy and detail – they share a belief that this ethos is the key to getting their team over the line in pole position.

What’s more, the sport is evolving, and making the need for precision all the more vital. With a new price cap in play for the 2022/23 season and strict sustainability regulations governing Formula E, the need for accuracy transcends the fibre-thin adjustments made on the track and across the sport at large.

Fortunately, the technology used to optimise this sort of detail has developed alongside the power and innovation you see on race day. Our partnership with Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team is an example of how we’re helping the team to build a sustainable and efficient business that wins races and fans, while staying on the right side of tighter regulations.

Here are three ways we’re working with Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team to drive excellence, on and off the track:

Harnessing data to win races

As Mercedes-EQ Team Principal Ian James put it last year: “We are genuinely a startup, which means to get that competitive edge, it’s incredibly important that we really look after every detail, and technology very much helps us do that.”

For James, technology – and the data that underpins it – is the lifeblood of his operation. In fact, around a terabyte of data is fed back from the car to their support team on any given race day, feeding back information on everything; from air humidity and track moisture levels, to the power consumption levels of the car. This detail then enables the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team team to make hairline adjustments to optimise their car’s performance, while relaying information back to the driver on how to strategically tackle the race. Mechanics can even order replacement parts right from the track, to get them ready for their next races.

With such high volumes of data, it’s important that the teams have the tools for deeper analysis to optimise their performance for future races. The Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team use SAP S/4HANA Cloud to improve that operational speed and agility, with the Cloud capability meaning they can operate seamlessly from multiple geographies.

It also helps them to understand their fans. With technology capable of collecting and analysing fan feedback, the team have the tools available to create the best fan experience possible.

Enabling smart expenditure with the price cap

Later this year, a price cap will be implemented on manufacturers and teams for the 2022-24 Formula E seasons – equating to €13 million per season. These spend regulations will aim to monitor and control spending levels on competitors, while increasing equitability among teams.

With stringent measures around spending in place, it’s more important than ever that race teams have a comprehensive view of their finances. As part of their work with SAP, the team have the tools at their fingers to have a bird’s eye view of their spend globally, as well as across other partners covered by the cap.

Again, detail is of the essence. When you consider that even support members touching the car will trigger the inclusion of their salary in the price cap, it’s easy to see why having total financial oversight is so important.

Driving more sustainable outcomes

With electrification at the heart of Formula E’s mission, it’s not surprising that sustainability pervades every element of the motorsport. In fact, ‘environmental excellence’ is one of the ABB Formula E World Championship’s overriding principles by “monitoring, measuring, reducing and offsetting the championship carbon footprint with the aim of minimising our environmental impact.”

As part of our partnership with the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, we help the team to measure their performance against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. For the Mercedes team, it’s not just about environmental management – it’s about continuously improving processes and technology, both in the car and out, that help them to operate in a sustainable fashion. We work with Mercedes to help them understand where these sustainability improvements can be made by giving them visibility on their commitments.

With Formula E being so fast paced and, at times, dramatic, it can be easy to forget that races are won or lost on minute, fractional judgements. As the sport evolves and places more of an emphasis on cost and sustainability, Formula E is becoming more dependent on technology than ever before to understand how to gain a competitive advantage when faced with increasingly tight regulation. For teams at the top of their games, such as the Mercedes-EQ Formula E Team, the devil is very much in the detail.

The Formula E Championship continues in London this weekend and we’re all hoping that the Mercedes-EQ Team and driver Stoffel Vandoorne can extend their leads at the top of the leaderboards.