Tata Communications MD of Formula 1 business, Mehul Kapadia, spoke to Darshan Chokhani about the company’s foray into F1, partnering with Formula One Management as well as the Mercedes F1 team.
Becoming the official connectivity partner along with content delivery and hosting Formula1.com in 2012 was just the beginning of Tata Communications’ long term plan to showcase their capabilities in the world’s most technological and challenging sport.
As the Tata Communications CEO Vinod Kumar, said while shaking hands with Bernie Ecclestone, “If you can do it for F1, you can do it for anyone,” the organization has truly expanded its strength within motorsport, partnering Mercedes in 2013 and this year becoming the unilateral feed provider for GP2, GP3 and Porsche Supercup races to various broadcasters around the world.
But Kapadia insists that there is no “conflict of interest” as they work with FOM and Mercedes at the same time. “I think it’s the professionalism which we bring into our relationship with FOM and Mercedes that help us to have a very good working relationship with both parties,” Kapadia told Motorsport.com.
“The proof to this is that we are able to do the F1 Connectivity Innovation Prize having FOM’s CTO John Morrison along with Mercedes Technical Director Paddy Lowe as judges on the same panel.
“I think this tells you the amount of trust and confidence that both of them have with us and we have with them to be able to coexist and work together,” he added.
Stressing more on the professional nature, Kapadia added that none of their partners have to wait for results, every F1 weekend the results speak for themselves and shows how they execute their work at both spheres.
Explaining their work, Kapadia revealed how they manage to keep all the TB’s of data safe. “The value we bring with framing and integrating everything benefiting the F1 ecosystem, our technology allows us to ensure that the data of Mercedes is with Mercedes and not seen by anybody else and vice versa,” he added.
“So, it does not necessarily mean operationally separate team because the technology platform is the same at the race track and every data reaches its prescribed destination and not in anyone else’s hand.”
Fast data delivery the aim
At a grand prix, FOM, Mercedes, and all the other teams produce tons of data for analysis, all of which happens in real-time. Tata Communications helps Mercedes to transfer live data from track to their factory at Brackley so that the team, engineers, and drivers can analyse and improve on their performance during the weekend.
Instead of focusing on counting the TB of data, they produce with about 150 sensors (in Mercedes’ case) the company focuses on the faster delivery of data from track to the factory and or to the fans (in F1.com’s case).
“We look at this saying that we don’t want to only measure the MBs or TBs, it’s about the applications performing in the best possible way,” said Kapadia.
“If you want to access data from your iPhone, if you want to see where is Lewis Hamilton in the race track right now, how fast the network delivers it to you, is the most critical component rather than the volume of data.”
Successful 4K trial run
The latest innovation which Tata Communications successfully tested was delivering a F1 race in 4K technology. However, Kapadia insisted that the trial run was just to measure if the company is “ready” for such a change in the future.
He revealed that they chose Singapore last year for the trial because Marina Bay street circuit is the hardest on setting-up a broadcasting center – right in the middle of a busy city street.
“In 4K, there are various components, the demand file, supply file and the hardware. It is an entire ecosystem that we need to evolve for 4K to actually start off on a marked scale,” started Kapadia.
“Our proof of consciousness on F1 was really to see that when the market evolved are we ready. We chose Singapore to prove the concept there to see the given deployment time that we have can we still make it run as a proper end to end service.
“So that was the core objective. It is really market driven, whether people have 4K sets, whether the broadcasters have the capacity to run 4K and reach the homes,” he added.