A common thread with our blogs here at Comms Express is our interest in looking at how technology reaches into our lives. Of course our lives at both work and play are enhanced by technology. In particular sport has embraced technology as a means to propel forward. And when we say propel we mean literally when it comes to the sport featured within our latest blog.

In the past we have looked at various sports including football, the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. Formula 1 is the next sport under our microscope.

It’s shaping up to be a cracking season. Mercedes teammates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are currently battling it out at the top of the leaderboard. There is much talk that they don’t see eye-to-eye. Yet for us fans any antagonism only adds further fuel to an already fired up sport.

Aligned with the exciting race for the chequered flag is also the exciting key technical changes afoot this season. For many years F 1 has been at the vanguard of technical initiatives and according to former champion Jody Scheckter the big winners this season would be road drivers rather than actually F1 racers.

Scheckter hopes a raft of technological changes — notably smaller, hybrid engines that promise greater fuel efficiency — will help improve road cars’ performance.

“It’s very positive for the sport, this is the first time you’ve seen the sport bring in regulations that really push the envelope of technology for every type of car,” the South African told CNN.

“They are trying to take efficiency from everywhere they can on a car.”

This year’s race cars will boast an enhanced Energy Recovery System (ERS) and 1.6-liter V6 engines, compared to the 2.4-liter V8s on show last year.

The ERS uses heat generated when braking and thermal energy from exhaust gases to create extra power.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) has been used in F1 since 2009, but Scheckter says these latest advancements in the sport will only benefit everyday drivers.

“Wherever there is heat, they turn that into energy,” added the former Ferrari driver. “From that point of view, that’s what road cars are becoming more and more.

“They’ve taken this energy from the brakes and these different areas, that’s what Formula One has done to a much higher degree than I’ve ever seen before. I think the technology will flow to road cars very quickly.

“It’s very important for the global environment that they can make the technology work practically and then it can move into road cars.”

It will be great to see road cars come as standard with technology such as:

  • Sensors for sensing pressure and temperature of tires, engine temperature, oil pressure ….
  • Regulators for dispensing of fuel.
  • Telemetry for analysis of the car through graphs and charts.
  • The system for monitoring, to change device settings in the car, their setup and configuration.

The telemetry of F1 is also at the top of its game. For instance this year drivers can identify why they are gaining or losing time relative to their team mates. For example the telemetry measures not only, to a remote site, in F1 case, to pit wall and pit garage. It electronically records performance of engine, status of suspensions, gearbox data, and fuel status, all temperature readings including tires temperature, g-forces and actuation of controls by the driver. The data is then used as a foundation for determining car setup and all problems.

Such is the capabilities of F1’s telemetry that hospitals also have made great use of its specific data. Now they are used on us as well as cars. Cars on the race track, like patients in hospital, need to be constantly monitored. It is the sensors on the F1 cars that feedback data to a team of engineers, who in turn make adjustments, either trackside or after the race, to improve racing performances next time around. These incredible advancements are now proving hugely beneficial to patients within hospitals.

McClaren’s Peter van Manen spoke of the fruitful chance meeting with Dr Heather Duncan, a consultant in paediatric intensive care, “It soon became clear, when we discussed it, that there were lots of things that we do routinely in Formula 1 that are not dissimilar as that for patients in a hospital.

“If you were to take the real-time data system technology and put it into a hospital, it should be possible to extend and improve paper-based data on patients,” he added.

All of these wonderful technological advances bring a whole new perspective to this thrilling sport. For those bemoaning the money spent within F1 it is gratifying to see the benefits filter down to motorists and patients alike.

And they’re off!!

Until next time…