Although Spanish Formula One racing driver Carlos Sainz Jr didn’t deliver the somewhat elusive drivers’ world championship to McLaren in 2019, there is cautious optimism in the McLaren camp for what the future holds.
The last time its F1 team won the title was back in 2008 with current World Champion Lewis Hamilton, but this year saw a marked improvement. In a sport where the top five cars operate at around a 1.5% product performance differentiation, the margins between winning and losing are slim. So it is no great surprise that technology is front and central to finding that edge.
“Three years ago in Barcelona, Fernando Alonso crashed in testing,” says Jonathan Neale, McLaren’s COO, speaking at IoT World Congress at Fira Barcelona, in October. “Using the technology and telemetry, we managed to reverse-engineer the incident through simulation and solve the issue.”
For Neale, this is an example of how far the team has come and the role that sensors and simulation modelling can have in identifying and reducing technical error. Neale is an impressive advocate of new technologies and change. He comes across as a realistic, pragmatic thinker, something that came to the fore in 2015 after being grilled by the BBC following a disastrous race in Canada.