Balancing the Mechanical with the Biological in Motorsport

It’s too easy to develop tunnel vision on the mechanical parts of a car and forget about the driver.  Motorsport is primarily occupied by mechanical-oriented people like mechanics and engineers and by electronics, but our machines are piloted by humans.

Racecars are piloted by humans - they are not machinesMost of us in Motorsport are aware that many things can affect vehicle performance such as track temp, tyre pressures, motor tune, car setup, etc. We spend a lot of time perfecting, testing and optimizing these parameters so we can make the vehicle faster. After all this time, cost and effort of optimizing, tweaking, perfecting, and even when our vehicle is deemed ‘perfect’ – the reality is, there is a human being piloting the vehicle, and they too are influenced by many external factors. 

Many race teams are not aware of how much those external factors can negatively impact a driver’s performance. Studies have shown that heat, dehydration, fatigue, distractions, stress, and lack of confidence all have a negative influence on performance.

Optimizing a driver is often much less complicated and less costly than optimizing a race car. Understanding the issue is the first step. And if you are reading this, you may be ahead of your competitor already!

There are some basic -- but very effective -- methods to optimize the driver. These include keeping the driver cool and well hydrated, determining what the stress triggers are, and then working on simple techniques to lower the stress and thus the fatigue and errors.

It's not all about the car

Knowing a driver’s physical output (biometrics such as heart rate, body temperature, blood oxygen levels) during an event can help you tailor a training program to limit the effects of fatigue. 

We developed BioTelemetry to gain a better understanding of how the driver’s physical output can impact performance.  And by integrating the driver’s Biometric data with all the other vehicle systems, we get a clearer, more accurate, complete picture. Only then can we start training and optimizing the driver along with the rest of the car. 

So ask yourself the question:  are you doing the same analysis and preparation for the driver as you are on the vehicle?

Try not to underestimate the impact a driver has on the race car’s performance.  Spending just a little time understanding how the driver is reacting to physical and mental stresses – and then controlling some of these external influences can have a positive impact on your team’s performance.




Chris Blomfield-Brown
Chris Blomfield-Brown

Author

Chris an avid competitive cyclist has been running his race engineering consulting group for over 12 years. He also taught for various Motorsport Programs and continues to mentors FSAE and Student F1 projects and is always open for questions



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