AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of fans filled up the stands at Circuit of The Americas for the United States Grand Prix.
One of the most well-known Formula One teams on the track was McLaren.
Over the last year, McLaren has been working with several engineers in Austin who have developed AI software to optimize the design of their race cars.
When it comes to race day success, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said speed is the name of the game.
“Efficiency and pace are probably two of the most important words in Formula One,” he said. “Both of which we’re going to benefit from our partnership with Cadence Design Systems.”
The computational software company has an office in Austin with over 300 employees.
One of which is Chuanlin Liu, an engineering group director.
“We develop software to improve the design process, performance and productivity of these cars,” he explained.
Brown says his team’s success is built both on and off the track.
There’s what happens at the racetrack and what happens back at our factory,” he said. “It all starts at the factory and that’s where our relationship with Cadence begins.”
McLaren is using Cadence’s software to simulate the aerodynamics of race cars inside a computer.
Rather than building a physical car model and tweaking it in a wind tunnel each and every time, this work can now be done digitally.
With AI acceleration, the design is completed faster, cheaper and stronger than ever before.
“We’re using AI in order to bridge that gap to make designers more productive,” Cadence senior software engineering director Chuck Alpert said.
F1 teams are always gathering data, even in real-time during races.
Teams typically run through millions of simulations of how races may play out.
So AI is used to help sort through this data and improve the models.
Cadence Vice President KT Moore says this is critical in a fast-moving sport, where fractions of a second decide who’s standing on the podium.
“There’s all kinds of technology being used,” he said. “There’s massive amounts of data that gets generated by each car when it’s on the track.”
Brown believes this has given McLaren an extra edge to optimize every aspect of their race cars.
“In Formula One racing, you’re always trying to get a one-up on the competition,” he said. “You’d like to do that with your drivers and people but you definitely want to do it with your technology.”
McLaren’s top driver Lando Norris finished third Sunday, his seventh podium finish of the season.
With only four races remaining in the Formula One season, McLaren Racing is currently in fourth place in the constructors championship.