When the Alpine A480 laps the racetracks at the FIA World Endurance Championship, the race engineers are practically in the cockpit thanks to around 2.000 real-time telemetry data. Thomas Tribotté, race engineer of the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team, explains how precise data analysis leads to a successful race. When the television viewers catch a glimpse into the pit of the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team at the races of the FIA World Endurance Championship, they see the team colors on the walls, the fuel system, concentrated mechanics, their tool cabinets and stacked tires. But very few get a glimpse into the back office, the secret control center, in which a constant flood of diagrams and data flickers across countless screens.
Racing car with 500 sensors
“In the hypercar class, the race is not experienced passively from the pits, but controlled by an impressive amount of data.” Thomas Tribotté, race engineer of the Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team. The number of monitors has increased again since Alpine moved up to the leading hypercar class in endurance racing: “When we competed in the LMP2 class, our car was equipped with around 200 sensors. This season there are already 500. Our telemetry system continuously transmits between 2.000 and 2.500 pieces of information. In order to process and analyze this wealth of data, eight engineers are needed, who, like me, are in the box. Just two engine engineers take care of the particularly important performance management, ”says race engineer Tribotté.
“The data are divided into different categories. Most important is all of the information related to reliability. This includes the temperature of the brakes, engine and transmission as well as the tire pressure. Associated with this are warning signals, some of which alert the driver directly in the vehicle. Temperature control is particularly important, especially in a race like Le Mans, where air temperatures can fluctuate between 10 ° C in the middle of the night and 30 ° C in the afternoon at the start and finish.
Win with data
During the race, the engineers of the racing team never let the data out of their sight for a moment: “Even in LMP2 times, we discovered a problem at Le Mans after twelve laps,” remembers Thomas Tribotté. “If we had panicked and brought the car in for repairs immediately, our chances of victory would have been significantly reduced. Thanks to the telemetry data, however, we were able to narrow down the problem and wait for the best moment to fix it during the regular pit stops. The result was the class win. "
In addition to the reliability, the telemetry data also contribute to the performance of the vehicle. Thomas Tribotté: “If we change an attitude that is supposed to lead to a two percent improvement, but actually only brings a profit of 1,8 percent, we find out immediately thanks to the telemetry data. The driver can then readjust it immediately. ”Likewise, Tribotté and his colleagues use the data stream to perfect the team's racing strategy:“ We are constantly trying to optimize the amount of fuel that the car carries. We only call the car in when it has less than half a liter in the tank. Such precise specifications are only possible thanks to the precise data. "
The time information provided by the race management is another valuable source of data. “Although all teams receive this information, we can use it to closely monitor the performance of our competitors,” concludes Thomas Tribotté. "We combine this information with our own simulations and calculations in order to adapt our racing strategy and to maximize our chances of success."
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Alpine A480: Telemetry data for victory in the racing car!
Photo credit: Alpine (Renault)
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