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Pushing the limits of possibility – with Tom McCullough

Together with our Title Partner, Aramco, Performance Director Tom McCullough reveals how data is key to unlocking performance in Formula One.

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Whether it’s in the wind tunnel, the simulator, or on the racetrack, data is relentlessly gathered and analysed to deliver insights that improve laptimes on the track.

Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team Performance Director Tom McCullough explains more about this process and how it dovetails with what a driver feels behind the wheel.

Tom McCullough

Pushing the limits of possibility

The product of a united focus, chasing the epitome of performance.

Together with Aramco and Performance Director Tom McCullough explore how we use data to push the limits of possibility.

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Why is data so important in F1?

Data is like gold dust, we track everything. It's by going through all the tiny details that you make progress. The brake balance, the ride heights, the control systems; each individual track wants something different. Our job is to take all those elements and to globally optimise them to get the most out of the package we have on that day to maximise the performance.

More often than not, tyre performance is on a knife-edge. How does data help the drivers and the engineers keep on top of things like tyre temperatures during a race?

The racetrack is a hostile environment, so understanding that and understanding how that influences the tyres is fundamental. When you exert a lot of energy into a tyre it reacts in a certain way, you can overheat it, you can stress it, you can cause local stressing. Having a really good understanding of the best tyre pressure, the best temperatures, the best levels of sliding, is how you get the most out of the tyres.

It can’t always be the case that data and what a driver feels match up harmoniously. How do you go about striking a balance between the two?

Feeling is really hard to show in data. What a driver feels through their core, and their backside as they’re sat in the car is exactly what the car is doing. You have to compromise in some areas to make the car drivable, and the driver happy. We use the driver as well as all our sensors, to gauge exactly how we're going to adjust the car, optimise the car to get the most out of it.

What are the most rewarding and satisfying parts of the job?

You never know enough, you're always learning. I think that's the bottom line. When I know that the team have executed a very strong weekend, and we know we got the most out of what we have, that's very satisfying.

What motivates you?

With Formula 1, we are really powered by an efficiency mindset from materials to fuels. If we can improve it for the racetrack. We can improve it for the whole world. That's what keeps you coming back.

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