The Perfect Lap Issue no.3 - Page 15

No model can ever fully replicate the real thing, however, particularly at a venue where no real-time running of any kind has taken place. “Quirks,” as Latham refers to differences between simulations and live running, are inevitable. “We find out about them when we get there,” he says. “Maybe the temperature is cooler, or there are slightly different kerbs or bumps to what we were expecting. Of course the drivers have to learn the circuit, but, to be honest, they’re so good and if the simulation’s been run before we get there, then normally it doesn’t take them too many laps to be up to speed.” Once they are, Latham and his tech-team colleagues will suddenly receive a glut of fresh data to digest. This deluge of electronic information is hugely valuable – indeed, for the modern race team, data is the very essence of performance – but the sheer quantity of information presents challenges of its own. From the basics of making sure that a car’s essential systems are working correctly (eg is the ERS energy recovery system harvesting the requisite amount of power; is the DRS rear- © 2014 SAP. All Rights Reserved. wing-opening system deploying as and where it should?), to fine details such as pressure loadings on front wings at any given point of the circuit – all of this is streamed to info-hungry engineers at track and back at McLaren team HQ. And it’s here that the McLaren-SAP partnership pays one of its most valuable dividends. A key philosophy for SAP is the mantra of ‘run simple’ – an idea that’s now central to its corporate philosophy. And it’s as applicable to a race team partner as it is to any data-rich environment. “It’s easy to sink a little bit in the amount of data and the volumes of data that are coming to you,” says Latham, “so one of the key aspects is not to get swamped by it. Try to simplify things and use your experience to understand what’s important and make sure that the data is being used to solve the most important and critical decisions, by the people who have the most knowledge to make them.”