Exclusive: Mattia Binotto On How Ferrari's F1 Team Will Use AWS To Define Its Future
By Sahil Gupta
1 mins read
Published on July 1, 2021
- The Ferrari F1 chief detailed how Scuderia will use AWS
- He talked about how initially it will be used for the chassis
- He also talked about the roadmap in the future
Last week Ferrari announced Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its public cloud provider. Besides this, it also announced a strategic partnership with the world's largest cloud provider which is a subsidiary of the e-commerce juggernaut. Particularly, the focus of the partnership is the Scuderia Ferrari team which enters a new era of Formula One which features a massive budget cap, and new aerodynamic rules in 2022, and even an upcoming new engine formula as well.
In an exclusive interaction with carandbike.com Ferrari F1 managing director and team principal, Mattia Binotto, reveals how it is leveraging its partnership with Amazon Web Services to define the future of the prancing horse. While there are some parallels to how Formula One is using AWS to propel ahead, Binotto's revelations are more technical but they also come from the eye of an engineer who once was the technical director of the team and in his earlier days was a race engineer for Michael Schumacher.
AWS Graviton Instances Attracted Ferrari
"AWS and Ferrari represent excellence in their respective spheres of activity and we always seek out excellence when wanting to build partnerships. That is, even more, the case when it comes to racing activities, where the contribution of our partners can be decisive in terms of success on the track and that's what we count on getting out of our collaboration with AWS," said the 51-year-old Swiss-Italian engineer.
Binotto leans into what makes AWS the dominant leader in cloud computing. It is not that Ferrari didn't have its own internal server infrastructure. AWS did offer Ferrari something different than Microsoft Azure or the Google Cloud.
"Going into the detail, being able to experiment with ARM-based Graviton instances with no CAPEX investment on Ferrari's side played a significant role in our choice," revealed the Ferrari boss.
This builds upon a trend that has been fuelling the growth for AWS. Its own custom Graviton ARM instances are server-class processors that are designed by Amazon itself based on the licensing of the ARM instruction set. They are cheaper and more efficient than traditional x86 based instances which basically use Intel or AMD processors in the server rack.
It is basically the same type of technology that's used in the iPhone or the latest Android phone. Last year Apple even deployed the technology for its MacBooks, Mac mini, and iMac with the M1 chipset. Even the world's fastest supercomputer, the Fugaku, in Japan, uses an ARM-based chipset. The shift to the ARM architecture has shown clear benefits on the consumer side, but on the B2B side, Amazon is perhaps the best exponent of showcasing its capabilities.
Ferrari's choice showcases the shift in computing - underpinning the importance of ARM and AWS to the world's most cutting-edge sport. But Ferrari isn't fully dependent on AWS in this case.
"Scuderia Ferrari has its own server infrastructure and, given the strict technical and sporting regulation put in place by the FIA, it will continue to use it. At the same time, the company will increasingly make use of AWS' cloud services, especially when it comes to developing new and innovative projects," states the Ferrari team boss.
AWS Also Becomes Important From A Cost Perspective
He also adds that the team leverages other elements of the AWS stack. And all of this also is a flow in from the new budget cap that has been imposed on the teams, negatively impacting the big three in Formula One - Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull. But Ferrari is arguably the big daddy of the big three. It had to transfer staff to its customer teams - like Haas and Alfa Romeo. And AWS is also going to help it reduce costs.
"Yes, transitioning to full AWS stack involves using Kubernetes and a Data Lake. Regarding database services, it will depend on the individual use-cases and cost-effectiveness of our existing solution," says the Ferrari veteran who has been part of the Maranello stable since 1995.
The cost-effectiveness of the Graviton processors was also an attraction for the team.
How AWS Helps Ferrari Enhance On Track Performance
As for improvements to Ferrari becoming more competitive in 2022 with the help of AWS, the answer is a yes and no. Binotto reveals there is a full roadmap with gains that will come from the improving relationship as a part of the multi-year deal, but to say 2022 AWS will be a key factor in Ferrari challenging for the world title, would be untrue, even if Ferrari ends up doing it.
"F1 today is very competitive and maximizing performance involves a total understanding of the car's behavior and the harmonization of the information we get from the environments in which we operate, such as simulation work, wind tunnel and simulator and finally on track. Our partnership with AWS is a multi-year partnership and we have a well-defined road map when it comes to our methodology. It's a long road that we will travel together, gaining the benefits year after year," says Binotto in his methodical style.
Binotto also has some interesting revelations on how AWS could help it use CFD and the wind tunnel less in the coming years, even though the Scuderia is deploying a new wind tunnel.
"Today, it's hard to say if AI technology, CFD and HW simulations will in ten years be sufficiently efficient to replace the wind tunnel. But it's clear that is the way things are going and we are working in that direction," says the Swiss-Italian when asked about the potential disbanding of wind tunnels by 2030 for environmental purposes.
AWS Could Be Used To Help It Define The Next Engine Formula
Ferrari's collaboration will initially focus on the chassis much like how F1 used AWS to help it model the 2022 car with ground effect aerodynamics which removes the bargeboards and bring back Venturi tunnels.
"Collaboration with AWS will focus on the chassis initially, but we are not ruling out the extension of AI methods to engine development," revealed Binotto. The engine has been an issue for Ferrari since the technical directives issued at the fag end of the 2019 season. Its 2021 engine is better, but right now it is working on a bold new engine for 2022 which it hopes will make it the class of the field. The development of this engine is important as there is an engine development freeze starting 2022 lasting till the end of the 2024 season.
But as AI progresses and Ferrari's partnership develops further it is quite possible AWS will be deployed for the 2025 engine formula or the development of the powertrain. Many believe it could be a 50-50 hybrid between a V6 internal combustion engine powered by biofuels like ethanol and an electrical element like the current one - though the electric capabilities are expected to dramatically be increased. F1 bosses alongside the CEOs of the various manufacturers and the heads of Audi and Porsche are meeting this weekend to discuss the same.
As always is the case with Ferrari in its storied 70-year history, the technology that's developed for F1 often is the basis of its iconic road cars and that will continue, reveals Binotto. He hopes that AWS will help with accelerating that synergy even further.
"Within Ferrari's DNA, there's a very strong link between the track and the road. In over 70 years that our company has been in existence, there have been very many technological solutions that have been tried first on the race cars, in particular, the Formula 1 cars and then transferred to road cars bearing the Prancing Horse emblem. That goes too for the work we do with our partners and I'm sure that the partnership with AWS will result in an acceleration of technological innovation, even when it comes to the road cars," he said.
In 2025 Ferrari also has plans of releasing its first EV which will likely coincide with a more enhanced electrical element in the 2025 engine formula - by then AWS and Ferrari would be working quite closely so Binotto's comments are in line with what the roadmap suggests.
The Ferrari Engagement Platform Will Be Built Using AWS
But one of the things that Ferrari really is excited about is leveraging its history as the most iconic and popular team in the sport. Together with AWS Ferrari talked about creating an engagement platform for its fans. It already has the Abu Dhabi, Ferrari fan world, in the physical format, but it really hasn't done anything in the digital realm. AWS will enable that.
"The idea of creating an app for fans of the Scuderia came about in the very early stages of our talks with AWS. Our common goal is to give the tens of millions of Scuderia fans a tool that allows them to experience in real-time the life of the Scuderia. Our fans are an invaluable asset and we have decided to create an app specifically to strengthen our ties with them," said Binotto.
"In the past decade, social media has increased the opportunities for opening dialogue, but an app is a unique opportunity to create an on-line community where fans from around the world can share their passion for the Prancing Horse and to a certain extent get to feel part of its legend," he added.
Last Updated on July 1, 2021
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