The world of motor sport is under the same financial pressures as any other industry, with a remit to reduce spend while optimising revenues and improving performance. This pressure has had a direct impact on the IT department of one of the biggest car racing outfits, Renault F1, as highlighted in an interview with the firm's chief information officer, Guillaume Jacquemin.
Speaking to vnunet.com at a recent HP event in Los Angeles, Jacquemin said that Renault F1 had just finished a redundancy plan across the organisation with about a five per cent reduction in overall headcount. The FIA, the governing body for motor racing, has also asked all Formula 1 teams to cap their overall budget at £30m as of 2010, putting additional pressure on the firm to manage its spending efficiently.
Jacquemin outlined how the current economic climate has already directly affected the IT team at Renault F1, including a 26 per cent reduction in the number of UK IT staff.
"We're going to shrink the budget on the IT side quite a lot and we've got an objective of commercialising the services we provide to get a new revenue stream," he added.
But while the team has suffered from job losses, there are still plans to invest in new technology to boost Renault F1's current performance on the track.
Jacquemin outlined plans to invest in a major PC overhaul this year, including an upgrade of its fleet of laptops and workstations. The firm is currently using Lenovo's ThinkPad T61 and X61 laptops, but is planning to upgrade to HP models this year.
"We won't be moving to mobile workstations, they're too big and heavy and we don't need the big screens as we have screens at the tracks, but it will be high-end models," he said. "We want the best in terms of CPU and SSDs [solid state drives] as there's a lot of vibration in the carriage. We've trashed a lot of Lenovo laptops using conventional disks. We want something robust, quick and not too heavy."
Jacquemin said the move to HP was due to the partnership between the two firms. "We have a good discount with HP, far better than we get with Lenovo," he revealed. "We're really happy with the titanium casing [of recent HP laptops], the previous ones weren't great, and the HP laptops are now equivalent in robustness to Lenovo so we can move over."
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