Splunk And Oracle Show How Data Analytics Is Transforming Formula 1

By Patrick Moorhead - December 16, 2021

The Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix was in my hometown of Austin back in October, and Oracle and Splunk invited my co-host on the Six Five Podcast, Daniel Newman, and me to come out and watch the race. Daniel and I covered McLaren and Red Bull Racing leveraging Splunk and Oracle in the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in a special edition of the Six Five Podcast that you can watch here.

If you follow my writings over the past couple of years, you will know that I write a lot on digital transformation—mostly on the business end, but just about everything. One of the benefits of being digital for a business is the voluminous amount of data produced by a company and analyzed by companies like Oracle and Splunk. 

Splunk’s offerings fit right into the digital transformation of everything with its security, observability, and IT operations offerings. It is even partnered with 92 of the Fortune 100. Where Splunk stands out is its focus on taking data and adding value to it, or as Splunk’s words are “turning data into doing.”

If you follow Formula 1, you understand that the technology and innovation that goes into Formula 1 cars is fascinating, and for many, why the sport is loved. The whole culture of the sport is about how can a Formula 1 car be engineered to shave off milliseconds of a driver’s car. Whether that is the driver having the insights as to when to brake, accelerate, conserve fuel, or how to navigate the racing line. From the engineering team, whether it has to do with the right tire to use, the car’s aerodynamics based on the track, and the engine. With all of these variables affecting the outcome of a race, it is why racing teams like McLaren and Red Bull Racing are looking towards Splunk and Oracle to give comprehensive data analytics to engineers and drives. 

McLaren and Splunk

I had the chance to talk with the former CEO of Splunk Doug Merritt about the relationship with McLaren and ask him a few questions on the uniqueness of the partnership between Splunk and McLaren. Keep in mind that every team like McLaren and Splunk is partnering with a tech company to optimize the data involved in making racing decisions. Splunk’s job is to ensure that the 1.5 terabytes of data generated within a matter of hours from McLaren’s MCL35M nearly 300 sensors properly get to the 30+ engineers at McLaren’s Technology Centre Mission Control in the UK. 

In my conversation with Merritt, he pointed out that the sport of Formula 1 is moving in a direction where data is going to be an even more important factor. Formula 1’s new regulations include a fixed operations budget, and as Merritt pointed out, it levels the playing field and makes the sport more competitive. The pole position has much to do with the spending level of these teams. Similar to why the NFL has Salary caps, these fixed operations budgets keep racing teams from having a “pay to win” advantage. Interestingly, just how the engine has a portion of the fixed operating budget for teams, so do technologies for data analytics. Merritt pointed out that McLaren is one of the few racing teams that is leaning into the digital footprint. I think these new regulations and push towards great partnerships are going to make for an exciting future for Formula 1. The same technologies that Splunk uses on businesses to “turn data into doing” are the same technologies that put these racers within milliseconds of winning.

Formula 1 driver for McLaren Lando Norris driving at the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. SPLUNK

I also asked Merritt what future technology offerings he was most excited about helping McLaren. Merritt described to me how the initial relationship between Splunk and McLaren was basic offerings from Splunk. Once Splunk started to lean into the observability assurance for McLaren. The process of the data being generated and taken from hundreds of these sensors and being moved through fiber-optic networks to analyze the car from different parts of the world is an incredible task. Splunk’s mission is to ensure the delivery of that critical data, so McLaren can make the decisions it needs to, all without an outage or loss of data. As Merritt described, the backend of the whole process will be to take data from McLaren and other third-party sources to prepare the drivers for the next race. 

Regulations come to take out unfair advantages or exploitations. Interestingly enough, McLaren and Splunk or looking towards an advantage over the competition are the deep insights that data analytics have on the sport. Taking almost non-valuable telemetry and turning it into useful data that transforms the position of a race is the desire for Splunk and McLaren in the future of Formula 1.

Oracle and Red Bull Racing 

These transforming relationships tell us that, where before tech companies would partner with Formula 1 teams as marketing engagements, they now have a deeper partnership that plays more into the analytical impact of the race. Just as we saw this with Splunk and McLaren, the relationship between Oracle and RBR is deepening. Oracle provides data analytics to the Red Bull Racing team.

RBR and Oracle announced a new Red Bull Racing Paddock application that gives fans a personalized loyalty program. Oracle says it uses Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement, which uses customer data and, in this case, fan data to present personalized interactions and offerings. For Red Bull Racing fans, it means that as they interact in-person and digitally, they will be rewarded with was Oracle calls “money-can’t-buy” rewards. A way to earn points would be by building a fan profile or reading a driver profile off of the Red Bull Racing Honda website.

Formula 1 driver for Red Bull Racing Max Verstappen winning the U.S. Grand Prix. FORMULA 1

This is a valuable approach to data analytics for Red Bull Racing in that it is creating more customer engagement that could have taken a hit from the pandemic in terms of in-person experiences. I also want to point out that the basic offerings of Splunk lead to the partnership of providing analytical data. Oracles’ partnership with Red Bull Racing with its new fan application could lead to Red Bull Racing diving more into some of what Oracle has to offer. Sports are nothing without fans from a financial and popularity standpoint.

Wrapping up

Now is one of the best times to jump into Formula 1, and I myself am a Formula 1 nut right now. As someone who has been in the tech industry and is riding the wave of digital transformation, it is pretty exciting to see the same technologies that go into the digital transformation of businesses be implemented in Formula 1. The amount of precision these drivers and race teams have to pay attention to really puts into perspective how different it is from an everyday car driving on the road. 

As we see the partnership between Splunk and McLaren’s grow and its data insights and analytics, we could witness a whole new era of Formula 1. Data analytics and processing could lead to new technologies and innovations in Formula 1, and its just the beginning. Similarly, the partnership with Red Bull Racing and Oracle is growing the fanbase of Red Bull Racing. Applications like Red Bull Racing Paddock are what grow fan bases, and even Formula 1, to where people realize how much technology and innovation goes into the sport.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.