How mobile could boost Caterham's race for F1 points - Mobile World Live

How mobile could boost Caterham’s race for F1 points

09 DEC 2013

NEW BLOG: The role of technology and the global nature of Formula One (F1) are two reasons why the sport appeals to an audience stretching into the billions.

The 2013 season, which came to a close in Brazil in November, saw 19 different countries host Grand Prix, covering North and South America, Europe, Australasia, Asia and the Middle East.

And the technology used to design, build and develop the cars is staggering. From aerodynamic simulations that require a supercomputer, to a fabrication system that uses a laser to build prototype parts for wind tunnel testing, technology is at the heart of any F1 team.

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Caterham F1 Team (previously known as Team Lotus) was one of three new teams to join the sport in 2010 and with a significantly smaller budget than many of the established teams has done a credible job of establishing itself in such a financially demanding sport (although it is yet to score a championship point).

Based in Leafield, Oxfordshire, at a former Marconi radio transmission station, the team is always looking to use technology to improve the way its organisation functions and reduce its operating costs.

Team principal Cyril Abiteboul emphasised the expensive nature of F1 by noting that freight costs alone (to get the team and its cars to every race) add up to £12 million each year.

“Any saving of cost that we can do is something that we can transfer to other sides of the business where we can make a difference from the performance perspective,” he said at a recent media event at the team’s headquarters.

Mobile was identified as an area where costs could be reduced earlier this year, with the team starting work with Truphone, a mobile service provider, last May.

2013 Spanish Grand Prix - Saturday

“We’re targeting a 30 per cent reduction in our overall mobile costs, which we’re well on the way to achieving,” said Bill Peters, head of group IT for the Caterham Group.

Truphone’s footprint covers eight countries (it has MVNO agreements in the USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Hong Kong and Australia, Spain and Poland), and offers customers mobile services charged at local rates. Five of the countries covered by Truphone hosted Grand Prix in 2013.

A combination of SIM-based and network technology allow Caterham team members to make and receive calls, as well as use data services, back to Leafield for a relatively low cost.

“Not only does it benefit the team here, because you can call Australia like it’s local, but all the people at the racetrack can just call you on your local numbers,” said Robert Jones, managing director for Truphone in Europe.

Truphone also offers ‘competitive roaming rates’ in countries currently not within its network, which is useful for other Grand Prix and when communicating with Renault, the team’s engine partner in France.

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Jones claimed one customer was regularly seeing staff rack up monthly mobile bills of £3,000 which were cut to around £90 once it started to work with Truphone.

“Data and application usage and the ability to be global is a productivity imperative, yet the cost for many CIOs is becoming astronomical,” Jones noted, adding that many users throttle their usage and swap SIMs to keep costs down when travelling.

Caterham’s Peters said another benefit has been the move to iPhones and BlackBerry Z10 devices with Truphone, which feature improved mobile browsers better suited to viewing the large number of documents received from the FIA, the international motorsport governing body.

Truphone also provides local support when problems occur with devices. “The service element is absolutely critical to us as well,” noted Peters, adding that Caterham is looking to implement fixed-mobile convergence technology in the future.

The team’s major aim though is to move up the Formula One grid and score championship points in the 2014 season. As part of this, it is reportedly chasing an established star to lead its challenge next season.

And with former Caterham race driver and F1 race winner Heikki Kovalainen using the team’s simulator at Leafield at the time of the media event, speculation that he is set to fill that role in 2014 may not be too wide of the mark.

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.

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Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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