Formula 1 is often described as the “pinnacle of motorsport” thanks to its combination of the best drivers and the most advanced cars on the planet. This mix of tech and talent helps to create an exciting spectacle that attracts more than two billion TV viewers every year and has created a sizeable betting market. This has also been helped by brands like William Hill that offer free bets which can be used on F1 wagers, as well as on other sports.
More recently, this F1 betting market was kicked into overdrive when the sport’s owner signed a deal with a data company that supplies iGaming brands. This allowed for new in-race live wagers to be offered to fans, creating a more diverse and enticing offering.
The technical aspects of Formula 1 are not limited to the cars and betting though. In this sport, everything from the clothes the drivers wear to the tools used for broadcasting are all cutting edge.
As has been the case for almost all of its history, F1 is a proving ground for much of this technology. Once it’s been tested and perfected under the extreme conditions of the world’s fastest sport, it finds its way into the real world.
KERS on Buses
In 2009, a major change to the Formula 1 rule book introduced hybrid technology to the sport for the first time.
Known as the kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), teams were allowed to use it to capture lost energy from braking and then charge a battery with it. This could then deploy electrical energy back to the wheels to give a boost under acceleration.
Teams were allowed two options when designing their KERS. They could either use a flywheel to mechanically store the energy or a lithium-ion battery to do the same thing but chemically.
Most teams chose the chemical option, but Williams opted for the flywheel. It never actually raced with its KERS installed, but that didn’t mean the technology went to waste.
It’s been installed on buses in London to allow more energy efficient and economical driving. It means that whenever it stops to drop off or pick up passengers, the energy from the bus’ momentum is captured and stored in the flywheel. Then, when the bus leaves the stop, the captured energy is sent back to the wheels to accelerate without using hydrocarbons.
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Supermarket refrigerators and F1 cars have few things in common, though they both share a small piece of technology.
Again, a technology developed by Williams has been deployed to protect the environment. This time it is Sainsbury’s that has implemented F1 tech by fitting an aerofoil to its open-front fridges.
Following the same principles of directing air that are used in F1 to make the cars faster, Williams and Sainsbury’s have been able to keep the cold air inside the fridges, improving efficiency and reducing energy consumption by 15%.
Hospital Pit Stops
In Formula 1, in-race tyre changes are mandatory. In dry-weather races, drivers must use two different types of rubber, forcing them to change at least once during a Grand Prix.
While a fresh set of boots on your car can make you go quicker, F1 drivers have to balance the trade-off between the gain from fresh tyres and the time cost that’s associated with driving slowly through the pits and stopping to allow the mechanics to do their job.
To reduce this time penalty, F1 teams have developed a range of technologies to save small margins without making mistakes. That allows them to change all four tyres on a car in just two seconds.
This approach has uses outside of racing too, including in healthcare. One instance of this was when Great Ormond Street Hospital and the Ferrari Formula 1 Team joined forces to apply F1 pit stop techniques and technology to improving care for patients.
Looking for ways to reduce risks when moving patients from an operating theatre to an ICU ward, the Ferrari team reviewed video footage of hospital staff to find areas where they could help.
They did this by designing a new handover protocol with more use of technology and improved teamwork. The end result was a drop in error rates by 66%.