All the talk about Big Data tends to devolve to media & entertainment, biotech, streaming web data and geophysical. But Big Data is arriving in places we don’t often consider.

Such as Formula 1 racing, the rest-of-the-world’s NASCAR, where racing team budgets can top $250 million a year, of which 5% is spent on telemetry. According to an article in the Financial Times:

A modern F1 car is fitted with about 130 sensors, which send enough information to fill several telephone books by the end of a two hour race via a radio aerial fitted to the car.

All teams are required to use software developed by McLaren, which cuts costs and enables the governing body – the FIA – to more easily detect banned devices.

For example, new Pirelli tires this year meant teams had to watch tire wear, grip, temperature under different weather conditions and tracks, relating all that to driver acceleration, braking and steering.

Here’s a print out of data from Monaco last year, from a detailed post on F1 telemetry and data analysis:

At McLaren about 20 of the 47 engineers it takes to races work on the telemetry, with a further 30 or so doing the same thing back at the team’s “mission control” at headquarters. . . .

Teams even run simulations during races to predict expected lap times, which drivers are expected to meet.

Data as competitive advantage
Telemetry got started in the 1980s, which means that veteran teams have decades of data to build their simulations. Newer teams have much less data – and less detailed models.

Speed matters
The FIA limits the number of test days and wind tunnel time to help limit costs and level the playing field. Thus the telemetry – real time race data – is even more valuable, if you can quickly analyze and act on it.

Two-way telemetry – where engineers would make engine adjustments remotely during a race – was tried in the 90s, but finally banned. But imagine that technology applied to the morning commute during icy or wet conditions.

The StorageMojo take
As quantum mechanics suggests, we live in a statistical universe. More data gives us greater resolution, just as larger populations enable new market niches.

F1 racing telemetry suggests what the future holds for the larger automobile market: massive streams of real-time road and automobile data giving millions of automobiles – and maybe even their drivers – traffic smoothing, energy-optimizing analysis and direction.

This relies, of course, on the cost of CPU cycles, bandwidth and storage continuing their downward spiral. As long as that continues Big Data will keep growing exponentially.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.