Some would argue that the most technologically advanced cars in the world exist in Formula One racing. We have Formula One to thank in part for "trickle-down" technologies like disc brakes, semi-automatic transmissions and flywheel-based kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS). So when they build an all-new Formula One track in America, it's a big deal. So big, in fact, they named it Circuit of the Americas. Circuit of the Americas is a 3.4 mile track just outside of Austin, Tex. on about 890 acres of land. Twenty turns and an elevation change of about 133 feet make for a very technically challenging course. There are even three recreations of turns from famous European Formula One tracks.
Races at this site are sure to be a spectacle. Receptions after the inaugural race were very positive; one racer said the track was harder to learn than other recently added Formula One tracks. That's a good thing.
Of course, none of this would be possible if it weren't for some serious technology. Video steaming, vehicle data captures, and other communications takes a ton of equipment. To be more specific, it takes a reported 160 tons of IT and broadcasting equipment to put on a Formula One race. All the equipment is needed because, with Formula One, all the processing of the video is done on site then sent out to the web via satellite.
As the standards are increasing for better quality video, Formula One has committed to transmitting the signal over fiber. Luckily, the track is right near the big, connected city of Austin, Tex.
Increases in external broadcast technologies have also been met by internal communications. The cars themselves have hundreds of sensors that relay information back to the pit crew. The analysts there then use all that data to see how the team is performing. In addition to checking the car's status, the team can also set a strategy of when to refuel based on wind conditions and how the car is handling the course. This growing trend of using data has led to more successful strategies, which make the races much more exciting.
Speaking of exciting, we were fortunate enough to take to the track in a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. We selected the gullwinged Merc because of its status as the official Safety Car of Formula One. Outside of an actual F1 race car, the 563 horsepower SLS AMG seemed like the natural choice.
Check out Host Bradley Hasemeyer's trip around the track in the video below:
- Feb 11th 2013 at 7:00PM
In Detail: Circuit Of The Americas Formula One Racetrack, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG