F1 and its marginal gains philosophy: What can the fleet industry learn?

21 November, 2016

F1 is at the pinnacle of motoring - an elite competition that requires cutting-edge innovation in engineering and tech to propel cars round a track at incredible speeds. The sponsors are the planet’s biggest brands, and the drivers are celebs, out-earning most of the world’s other high-profile sportsmen and women.

F1’s commitment to innovation is so great that it probably comes as no surprise that other industries can learn a thing or two from the way it operates – particularly how teams use connectivity and data to get a competitive edge. One example is McLaren, which has been sharing its data systems expertise with ConocoPhillips for use on oil rigs. But a bit closer to home, how can companies that have vehicles and people in the field learn from how F1 teams embrace connectivity and data?

Reams of deep data

Every F1 race car now has more than 100 sensors across the vehicle collecting reams of deep data. Installed along a car’s chassis, tyres and throughout the engine, they measure the likes of stress and downward force, brake temperature, tyre pressure, fuel use and monitor how the car is cornering. Sensors on a vehicle’s suspension measure speed and how force affects the vehicle.

This data, as well as similar information on the competing teams, is shared with the driver and up to 60 engineers and sports scientists. Indeed in a typical F1 team, data is also shared with 100 remote engineers across the globe. Infiniti Red Bull says it takes under 300 milliseconds for data from the farthest track in Australia to reach Infiniti Red Bull’s UK team.

How is this data interpreted and actioned? Real-time simulations run possible outcomes of the race. Every piece of information gleaned is analysed and changes are made live and in retrospect to increase the likes of fuel and aerodynamic efficiency. Data is also used to measure impact forces and can provide doctors insight into potential damage a driver may have suffered as the result of a crash.

Continuous optimisation

This continuous optimisation of F1 teams and their drivers comes from connected intelligence - information pulled from big, deep data. There is a laser focus on the need to analyse and continually improve. It’s learning through data. But you don't have to be a F1 team to benefit from these ideas.

Fleets learning from F1

While mobile companies aren’t focused on driving round a track at 220 mph, they do need to optimise routing, driver behaviour and manage assets within their business to get a competitive edge in their marketplace. This means using tech in the form of Mobile Enterprise Management (MEM) software platforms and vehicle-wide sensors for feedback on driver and vehicle behaviour.

What behaviour can be acted upon? Driver behaviour can be harsh braking, acceleration or seat belt use. Vehicle information can be aerodynamics, weight of load, idling, delivery schedules or nuanced information like refrigeration temperature or crane extension.

Having visibility into, and then actioning upon, this data can change a business. Managers who can see which of their drivers are accelerating too harshly or speeding, can communicate live or in hindsight to drivers to address the issue. Managers that are alerted to inefficient idling or delivery routes can then mitigate against it.

The impact this has on the fuel consumption, efficiency and safety of a vehicle – and the staff who operate them – can be significant. Rolled out across a fleet, the effect on the bottom line of a business can be vast. And these savings can be invested elsewhere in the organisation.


Tech can also be used to harness another aspect of F1 – driver competition. Modern mobile apps allow gamification to be applied to fleets. This means drivers can compete against others on their team or even nationwide on safety and efficiency measures such as speed limit adherence, braking and acceleration. Through tech and data, the competitive instinct of drivers can be harnessed to help drive down fuel costs and improve safety.


There are clearly significant differences between F1 and mobile enterprise management. But managers who are able to learn from the use of tech and harness the competitive spirit fostered within the sport can help make great strides in their marketplace through significant bottom line savings. So here are key learnings fleet managers can take from Formula 1:

  1. Commit to innovation

As F1 shows, organisations that continually explore the boundaries of possibility are those which stay ahead of the competition by defining the future agenda. Where possible, consider cutting-edge solutions which can give your fleet a competitive advantage.

  1. Make the most of your data

In the modern era, data is one of the most valuable commodities an organisation can possess and it has huge potential to change how organisations operate if properly used. Take F1’s ‘marginal gains’ lead and use it to help improve the performance of both vehicles and drivers across your fleet.

  1. Embrace Gamification

As we see in every grand prix, competition between drivers is a huge factor in maximising the performance of a team. While it’s best to avoid comparing ‘lap times’ across the fleet, giving drivers the ability to compare their performance with peers provides them with an incentive to improve their driving behaviour, and by extension the efficiency of the fleet.

  1. See the bigger picture

There’s no longer a need to monitor your fleet on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis. With MEM, you can view all of your assets from one singular platform, enabling you to manage multiple workloads, monitor performance and allocate resources effectively through one singular interface.

  1. Manage your business outside the four walls

MEM provides fleet managers with the ability to extend the enterprise outside its traditional four walls. When a vehicle leaves the depot, it no longer needs to be considered an external asset – rather, it should be considered as an extension of the business, and as critical a workplace as the desk of the CEO.