Monday, March 29, 2010

Technology that powers the Lotus Racing team

Mia Sharizman Bin Ismail, Head of Operations (Asia) of Lotus Racing talks about the growth and opportunities for Malaysians in the ICT sector and in developing a k-economy. I have taken part of the interview that relate to the F1 races.

(From L-R) Mia Sharizman Ismail,Head of Operations (Asia), Riad Asmat, Chief Executive Officer of Lotus Racing, and Alex Yoong (former F1 driver).

How important is the role of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) solutions in Formula 1?

Mia: ICT is definitely crucial in F1. Firstly, as a communication tool. The entire team must be in constant communication, whether it be in the factory, on the circuit, in the pit walk, on the track and even between the driver and the team during the actual race.

Secondly, ICT is fundamental in the engineering of the F1 car. This covers a range of processes, from the design to the manufacturing of the F1 car. At Lotus Racing, we have to meet all the state of the art requirements needed in F1, and this includes having a team of trained specialist in F1 technology. We also need huge storage capacity, high speed communications, and complex ICT network solutions and infrastructure.

Another crucial area for ICT is in F1 simulation. The Data Acquisition system collects data from the F1 car which is equipped with multi-functional sensory. The data then is transferred back to track side, while the car is moving around the circuit. This data can be used to simulate any F1 track in the world!

What are the programmes available in the Lotus Racing team for Malaysians; aimed at building Malaysia’s expertise and knowledge of building an F1 team and its facilities?

Mia: We are at early stages in hiring Malaysians onto the team, be it in the ICT field or in other fields. Our goal is to ensure that Malaysians acquire the expertise needed to be a contributing member of the F1 team by providing them with first hand experience.

We’ve also started to implement our internship programs with students. Given that we are a young F1 team, we can only accommodate a group of 5-6 students at any given time. The internship programme is held every quarter of the year and Malaysian students who are in their final year of education in universities here in the UK are shortlisted from a pool of write-in applications.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for young Malaysians to gain valuable experience and soak in the excitement of being a part of one the automotive world’s most prestigious racing platform.

How much has Malaysians progressed in the Automotive/Racing sector from our partnerships to bring the 1Malaysia F1 Racing Team to where it is today in the F1 arena?

Mia: In terms of partnership, we are working with Italy for the wind tunnel system which is critical in developing the aerodynamics of our cars. In Germany, we are working with our Competent Fuel Design (CFD) house. Additionally, we are also in the midst of moving these infrastructures into our Higham, Norfolk centre here in the UK - a major step on our part. We have now grown from outsourcing to developing in-house capabilities or to be partners instead of bystanders. This provides us an avenue to gain as much knowledge and expertise as possible.

As, Dato’ Tony Fernandes mentioned, it is our 3 year plan to make this facility available in Sepang. In view of this, we are also in partnership with two Malaysian universities - University Technology Malaysia (UTM) and University Petronas Malaysia. Collectively, we are working on developing Lotus Racing facilities in Malaysia and my duty is to ensure that the transfer of knowledge happens.

What are the goals in ICT solutions (software and/or hardware) that 1Malaysia Lotus F1 team is aiming for in order to improve its standing in F1 racing?

Mia: In a nutshell, our goals are similar to that of a car developer. And that is to produce a vehicle with maximum performance and a system with great reliability. To achieve this, from an operations point of view is to be as efficient as we possibly can.

Ultimately, what we are all about is getting the extra seconds for both our cars. For us, it’s vital to leverage on existing technology whilst developing new ones, for that extra boost in performance. Our yardstick is to finish in a race, and everything we do moves towards achieving just that.

Give us an example, of one automotive/racing technology used in Lotus Racing which you feel best demonstrates ‘cutting edge’ technology?

Mia: At the moment, I would say that that is the CFD. This relates to the wind tunnel simulation, where we take the car models from the design office and we create a simulation in the virtual world. This is how we gain aerodynamic advantage with our cars and is cutting edge technology made possible with super computers. We are striving all the time to get even better accuracy which translates to a higher performance car design.

Tell us about some of the milestones in your career leading up to where you are today in the Lotus Racing team?

Mia: Well, I was in the Sepang circuit management for about 5 years. Then I moved on to promote and organize international races around the Asia Pacific region like in China, Japan and Korea. And though I’ve had great moments in my career, I must say that our cars finishing in Bahrain recently is truly a pivotal moment in my career. We were all in complete exhilaration and that feeling of gratification was immense for everyone. I remember Dato’ Tony saying that we’ve made history!

What are the benefits or perks that comes with your position in the 1Malaysia Lotus F1 team?

Mia: Malaysia is a developing country with a strong vision to progress towards the status of a developed country. When we made our way into F1 ten year ago, Malaysia joined the ranks of the small group of developed countries around the world. That makes me proud and I believe that every step we take to becoming a developed nation is vital. Being able to play a part in that process with the F1, is a great perk in my career.

What does a Malaysian have to do to make their way to the 1Malaysia F1 Racing team?

Mia: What we try to inspire here, is that Malaysians has the ability to make it big. So if you do have that special talent, work at it and don’t give up. When we put out our recruitment advertisement for just one day last year, we received 6,500 applications! Of that group, 16 Malaysians made it to be part of the team. So, never say never.

1 comment:

Inchirieri Auto said...

This post is very good. Thanks!


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