By Mehul Kapadia, Managing Director, F1® Business, Tata Communications
The 2013 Formula One Season is over- and what a season it has been! The ups and downs, the amazing successes and occasional controversies… it has been a season to remember, and for me in particular, as I was fortunate enough to be right in the middle of it. As a life-long Formula One fan, Tata Communications’ association with the sport is a dream come true for me.
Thinking back on the past two years, there have been so many memorable moments and amazing highlights that all the pressure and hard work we have been through moves into insignificance. Right from starting with Formula One Management in 2012 and this year having added the Mercedes AMG Petronas team to our portfolio and seeing the team evolve and grow through the season and move up the ranks of the Constructors’ Championship from fifth to second spot has been an unparalleled experience for us.
This season we showcased a live video feed for the first time ever at a F1 race track, sent using our Video Connect service on our wholly-owned fibre network in what was the first live jpeg2k broadcast proof of concept to Formula One Management. This was an important milestone as it showcased our capabilities in the broadcast of the highest quality video feeds over fibre, and gave a glimpse into the potential future of sports broadcasting. Technology is driving an evolution in sports broadcasting that will deliver an increasingly immediate and immersive experience to sports fans across the world.
F1 evolves at a pace like no other organisation I know, with a speed of decision-making and a scale of innovation that is unparalleled . Being part of that evolution, with the help of our network and technology, allows us to give Mercedes AMG Petronas the ability to boost business connectivity by three times to what it had before and allow the team to collect thousands of data points for each race that can be analysed immediately by the technical team at the race track or back at the lab.
Next year, the increased communications speed and infrastructure Tata Communications offers will become even more crucial as the new regulations come in. With the new 1.6-litre turbo engines, eight instead of seven gears, more focus on energy recovery systems and fuel efficiency amongst many other things, the teams will be treading new waters. This means the innovation lifecycle will have to move up another gear, with real-time collaboration around the clock between track location and head office crucial for the performance of the car.
Our first season with Formula One and Mercedes AMG Petronas has really shown that we, at Tata Communications, are perfectly placed to support one of the fastest paced and pressurised operations in the world.
One of the main challenges we face is that every single week we are travelling to a different location with different requirements in terms of geography and infrastructure. Scenario planning is a crucial element and we need to be prepared for all eventualities at all times, because it HAS to work the first time round – there are no second chances. The world is watching and any small mistake will be noticed. The scale of popularity for the sport is staggering; with 67 million people visiting the Formula One website over the course of the year. This means the pressure is on, always, not just from a technical perspective, but also from the physical side as I experienced first-hand after being involved in four races back-to-back in three different continents.
Formula One is the most demanding, challenging, and fastest-paced operations I have ever been involved in, but it is also the most rewarding. I am proud our Tata Communications team is supporting this amazing sport. I cannot wait for March 2014 to arrive!