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Analytics for Human Information: Hungarian Grand Prix Experience

DavidHumphrey ‎09-09-2013 12:00 PM - edited ‎02-19-2015 02:03 PM

As part of an on-going project with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula OneTM Team, we had the opportunity to deploy and integrate our video analytics into the team’s system for the Hungarian Grand Prix race weekend from 26 to 28 July.


We are using our analytics to identify key information with various video streams that the team receives and to enrich their strategic data. The critical point is for the work to be done in real-time to assist analysis during the race.


Sadly this didn’t mean a trip to the race itself but instead to MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS’ hugely impressive factory and race control room in Brackley where they are based (near the Silverstone circuit). Even so my engineers had no problem working the weekend for this one, I even had volunteers! I thought it may be interesting to describe the experience.



Setup and Installation

My engineers went to site on the Thursday to set up our software and solve any integration issues that may arise. We did have a little panic over available hardware resource but this was eventually sorted and a plan was in place for everything to be ready for start of practice on Friday. Ended the day on a high by confirming end to end system run, although obviously not on live video from Hungary just yet.


Practice and first results

Friday saw an early start for me to be ready for the first practice session at 9am. My colleges report things are much busier today; control room is packed with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS engineers glued to screens full of telemetry direct from the track.  They are all in a very smart corporate uniform of grey shirts (covered in sponsors) which makes us stand out like a sore thumb as the only ones wearing business shirts. I haven’t been here 10 minutes when we are already discussing new ideas for things to do with the system, these get added to a list for discussion later! I am amazed how quiet it is with as everyone concentrating and wearing headphones and mics. We noticed a minor workflow issue with our new training application now that it is running “live”. A fix was identified with and a workaround put in place.

First impressions are good, live practice feeds seems to give results that match our expected performance figures.  Once practice finishes we break for lunch and more discussions on a new issues as the overall workflow becomes clear, how do we know when to start analysing!  Again solution and workaround identified.

After lunch everything up and running again and we are waiting for the second practice session of the day!

In this part of the building are two sets of folks, those "at the race" and those working on the current car and new designs for next season. The second group are equally quiet, all concentrating on screens, but not dressed in the corporate livery.

We are analysing the second practice session and the guys are making the identified changes to the application. Again results seem to confirm our testing on previous videos so we decide to aim to make sure everything is ready for the race.  This detailed analysis can be done offsite later to help tune performance.

Second practice session finishes and I am off leaving the guys setting up the extra hardware for the qualifying as we will have more video to work with then.

MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS was consistently in a respectable sixth to eighth place on lap times throughout the day.

Traffic was a nightmare getting back!



My guys are on site all day and getting everything ready and tested for all the channels that we will get during the race. I feel a bit guilty enjoying the sun instead!

They reported that the atmosphere was much more intense during qualifying and there was palpable relief when Hamilton got pole position (Rosberg was in fourth place). It was definitely unexpected.  It was mostly just the race guys were in, the design office was quieter now at the weekend. Good news is no further functional requirements identified!


The Race 

Sunday is race day. My guys go in early to make sure all is well and to help MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS integrate our output into their software.  I arrive later, well in time for race and everything in is hand.

Again everyone except us is in race kit and they seem more animated than Friday. The huge video wall is being set-up with video feeds from various locations, windows showing position timings, graphs of various telematics and instant messaging.


The race begins:

First shouts as Rosberg goes off track, seems he was hit but he recovers losing a few places.

Atmosphere remains mostly quite but noticeably more keyboard action and mic talk to folks at the race track.

From our end, the analysis definitely seems to be working as we watch the live feeds.

We see our analysis going into the main system… success! Now I can just enjoy the race.

Hamilton pits and not a change of note from the room.

Bit more chatter to the race track over mics. Our analysis is still working great.

Another shout as Button gets hit.

Great reaction from the room to brilliant overtaking move from Grosjean of the Lotus team. He later gets penalised for this as all his wheels were outside the track boundary.

A lot of chatter about lap times prior to Hamilton’s pit stop which goes well.

Noise again as Hamilton overtakes Webber.

Hamilton sets fastest lap at half way point of the race leading from the front.

Chatter is increasing as strategy is being discussed about MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS and all other teams pitting options.

Loud cheers as Hamilton comes out of pit lane and overtakes Webber forcing him of track.

Lot of talk now as the team here trying to predict everyone’s strategy and then communicate information to track side.

Rosberg goes off as it seems his engine may have had an issue.  There was no indication from the room that it was about to happen, and in a professional manner the team turn their attention to just concentrating on getting Hamilton his first win for the team.

There are only four laps to go at this point and Hamilton has a 15 second margin and just needs to cruise home!

Room again very quiet. Last lap new fastest lap for Hamilton, obviously has some pace in hand.

Hamilton is now on last lap and still very quiet.

The room claps – it’s over, quiet again for a few more minutes.

At last they separate and shake and grab each other. Champagne arrives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We add our bit by taking the control room team photo.

It was a great experience for my guys and I to be part of Hamilton’s first win for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS, especially as our video analytics also worked!

About the Author


David Humphrey, CTO of Video Surveillance for HP Autonomy oversees operations for Video, pioneering intelligent video-analytic technologies for international installations. Mr Humphrey has over twenty years experience in advanced video-analytics, with seventeeen years on security applications, as a leading provider of security and surveillance solutions to defense agencies, governments and major corporations around the globe.

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