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G42 to give Mercedes a push in Formula One

Companies G42 has invested in may also be involved in the partnership with the Mercedes F1 team G42/Supplied
Companies G42 has invested in may also be involved in the partnership with the Mercedes Formula One team
  • G42 to develop AI and other tech to support decision making
  • Multi-year deal may also involve portfolio firms
  • F1 teams must spend under $135m to avoid fines

The Mercedes Formula One team is relying on a partnership with an Abu Dhabi based tech company to develop artificial intelligence to give it an edge on the track. 

A multi-year deal aims to harness the potential of AI as the two companies explore ways to embed software and tech solutions in the  team’s operations, while better managing their budget for developing its cars.

“With G42’s help, we can, within the regulations, optimise our processes,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.

In the search for crucial marginal gains, companies within G42’s portfolio may also be deployed as part of the partnership, including Presight.ai, whose omni-analytics platform leverages all source data to support decision making.

Wolff was speaking at the official unveiling of the partnership between Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Abu Dhabi-based AI specialist G42. The arrangement was first announced in February.

“If we can figure out how a car should be better designed to respond to drivers’ intuitions, I’m sure this can be used more broadly for other teams and manufacturers as well,” said G42 group CEO Peng Xiao.

“But we want to make sure this partnership, first and foremost, produces results for our partner here.”

Formula One teams have the precarious task of negotiating tough financial regulations, first introduced in 2021 to encourage a more competitive championship.

The last time Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton clinched the coveted drivers’ championship in 2020, some teams were spending upwards of $400 million per season.

For any team that breaks the current $135 million limit sizeable fines await – Red Bull was found guilty of breaking the cost cap limit in 2021. The team was fined $7 million plus a 10 percent reduction in aerodynamic testing for 12 months from October 2022.

“It’s very difficult when it comes to understanding and executing the right decisions,” Wolff said. “Where do I want to spend my dollars in order to develop the car?”.

Wolff, however, said that there was no intention to replace drivers with robots as the AI phenomenon impacts all facets of human life.

“The human in the car is still not replaceable by a machine,” he said.

He added that previous trials have shown machine-driven cars to be within seven seconds of those driven by professional drivers.

Xiao said that although he believed that one day machines “could drive the car probably even better”, their role in the partnership was “human-centric.”

“Our goal here is not to do our experiments together to replace human drivers. We want to push the boundaries of what’s possible,” he said.

Mercedes heads into this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix in the US in third place in the constructors’ championship, behind Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin.

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