January 20, 2004
Pi Research plays an important role as a sister company of Jaguar
Racing, providing the electronics systems for the team. George
Lendrum is the Director of Motorsport at Pi Research. He tells us
more about the relationship between his company and Jaguar
How does Pi Research fit into the Premier Performance Division
that also includes Jaguar Racing and Cosworth Racing?
We provide the electronics systems for the car which includes
controllers, data acquisition systems and the telemetry. It all needs
to be 100 percent reliable and wherever possible give the team a
What exactly do all the different electronics systems on a modern
F1 car do? It seems they are increasingly complicated.
You're right to say that a 2004 F1 car is a high-tech machine. The
telemetry system means the continuous transfer of data from the car
to the engineers in the pits - we send about 4Mb of information every
lap. That is different to data-logging, which is when we store the
data in the car and then download it when it returns to the
With telemetry we aim for a constant feed but certain things do
interfere with the signal - buildings, the terrain of the circuit
itself, even the chain fencing that goes round the track can block
it. We generally, though, get sufficient connection time to allow the
engineers to be able to monitor the car and also analyze how well it
is performing at any particular time. That information means we can
make mid-race changes to wing settings at a pitstop, for example, or
get the driver to adjust the engine settings from the cockpit.
You also do a lot of work with the Jaguar Racing wind tunnel. What
can Pi Research bring to the aerodynamics department?
We provide instrumentation for the wind tunnel models that the teams
use to test how well the cars slip through the air. The scale models
they build are perfect replicas of the race car and we have developed
a range of sensors that are built into the model and measure the
forces that are acting upon it.
By carefully taking the right measurements as the wind tunnel is
running we can work out the lift and drag for any particular car set-
up. With every run we build up what we call performance maps that
allow us to compile a book of varying set-ups which we can take to
each race. It's a vital process because it means that when we hit the
track we can dial in the best possible set-up as quickly as possible.
Without the wind tunnel work we would spend much more time looking
for the right settings when the car was actually running. As track
time is at an absolute premium we need to make sure that what we do
at the circuit is not a waste of time.
Does the new 'one-engine' rule affect how the cars are set-up?
Yes, in terms of how much time we will have before qualifying. If
everyone is trying to conserve their engine lifespan that means even
less running to get a decent set-up. That in turn means that our
performance maps have to be even better than before to allow us to go
out and be quick from lap one.
What is the link between Pi Research and Cosworth Racing?
We act as a service to Cosworth, because our products are the eyes
and ears of what is going on inside the engine. From the data that we
collect, Cosworth can make an immediate decision about performance or
longevity or whatever it is that is affecting them at that
We don't own or act upon the data, we are there to extract it and
allow the car or engine people to make the right calls at the right
What role do the Pi Research engineers play over a race weekend?
Well, we have 300 people working at Pi Research on all forms of
motorsport programs all around the world. Jaguar Racing has four
dedicated Pi engineers who are based at the team's factory and will
work for the Vehicle Performance department, fulfilling our 'eyes and
ears' role. At a race we will have seven people trackside to ensure
that both Jaguar and Cosworth get the information they need.
Are the drivers becoming more aware of the growing importance of
Absolutely. They have to. If they don't they are missing out on an
opportunity to go quicker. As a driver you need to remember why you
are there, which is to drive quickly, but you also need to be able to
assess the information we have on tap. Good data, simply explained to
a driver, is a superb way of showing where he can make changes. So
understanding telemetry is a very important factor in being a modern
Do you give the drivers training in how to use it?
Increasingly, yes. We don't look at it as training but we are
developing tools all the time that help them to interface with the
systems. The more computer-friendly a driver is, the better chance he
has of going quickly. The very top drivers are interested in learning
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