Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton has been providing an interesting insight into the world of elite motorsport.
For those who don’t know much about the way Formula 1 series of car races is structured, each team has two drivers and a large team of engineers to back them up.
Each race car is connected to the computers back at the pit and large amounts of data are collected.
Whereas you might expect data about the speed of the car, the amount fuel it’s carrying and other basic information to be included in the data feed, there’s much more detail that you might not expect to be there.
For example, precise details about exactly how the driver drives his car is also included in the data feed.
And this is the data that Lewis Hamilton is not happy about sharing.
Hamilton is regarded by some as the best driver of his generation and has previously won the annual competition over 20 races held in exotic locations all over the world.
And his driving technique is often what makes the difference.
Your car can be the fastest in a straight line, but it’s the corners and bends where time is lost and races won. The fractions of seconds that you can save or expend in those moments is what separates the merely good drivers to the legendary ones.
And that’s not even getting into the overtaking and blocking manoeuvres, which are often far more complex than anything else.
In all of these areas, Hamilton’s technique is arguably the best. And, understandably, he’s not happy about sharing his trade secrets – not even with his teammates.
The two teammates in each team are often in competition with each other as well as in competition with drivers from other teams.
There have been many famous spats between teammates – and Hamilton makes Bleacher Report’s list of top 10 in-team feuds for his tense relationship with Nico Rosberg, and gets an honourable mention for his thorny ties with Jenson Button.
Both Rosberg and Button have each won the F1 championship once while in Hamilton’s Mercedes team, whereas Hamilton himself has won the championship a total of three times.
Now, it seems Hamilton is fed up of having details of his driving technique shared with teammates.
In an interview with F1 sponsor UBS, Hamilton said: “I go out, do my laps, do all my homework – the other guy can see everything.
“I have asked my team: ‘I don’t want to see my teammate’s [data]’. I don’t feel it’s fair that he brings his A-game and I should be able to study his A-game on a computer.
“The other driver naturally may be able to do more or less than you are. But because of this data they can just copy you.
“He’s braking five metres later there, I’ll go out and I’ll try braking five metres later.”
Hamilton differentiated the data-heavy F1 with go-karting, arguing that talent was the main difference in go-karting, whereas in F1 it’s increasingly about data analysis.
“That’s what I loved about go-karting. You weren’t able to do that and that was where just your raw talent is able to shine.
“I think it should be: ‘You hired me because I am the best, because I’ve studied, because I’ve won every class that I’ve been in, I’ve not missed one in terms of winning’.
“And you’re hiring whoever the next person is because they’ve hopefully won some things along the way as well and you’re hiring them for their ultimate skill all round.
“They should be able to go out there on their own and find it all themselves without you.
“If I can’t do it on my own then I’m not good enough and I don’t deserve to be there. And there are some drivers that don’t.”
It’s probably understandable that Hamilton feels frustrated. F1 is not like football, where teammates win and lose together, more or less. F1 is still in large part an individual sport.
However, it’s the engineering team and the companies that sponsor them which create the data networks and systems to enable them to beat the other, rival engineering teams – and a lot of that is down to how they apply the data to the way their drivers handle the cars they build.
And engineering teams are known to spy on each other.
It’s a tough one.
The F1 data network used to be managed by Tata Communications, and it is said that secrets related to the circuits and the technologies the engineers and scientists develop for F1 are as closely guarded as nuclear and space programmes.
In a typical F1 race, one team can generate approximately 30 terabytes of data. And arguably the most important bit of data relates to how the driver drives the car.Lewis Hamilton frustrated with his driving data being given to rivals Click To Tweet