By Derek du Preez, Computerworld UK | May 29, 2012
Speaking at an SAP Forum event in London this week, Birrell told audiences that data is fundamental to the racing team's success.
"We generate gigabits of data every weekend off every car and analyse that in real-time to make decisions," said Birrell.
"We monitor everything - the movement on the suspension strap, what's happening in the engine. There are probably 120 sensors in each Formula 1 car."
The information generated by the cars during a race is sent back to McLaren's on-site garage in real time and then back to the head office in Woking.
He added: "Getting that information is critical. We probably run one thousand simulations a minute during a race, so by the end of the first or second lap we have a 90 percent probability of the outcome."
McLaren also uses the data to retrospectively analyse its cars' performance on specific tracks to help the driver understand how to best race the car.
"Monaco's track hasn't changed for 30 years, so we can look at years' worth of data and see what happens to a suspension arm on certain corners and monitor that," said Birrell.
Birrell stated that the company's investment in data over the last 10 years had been "huge" and this is why it was now looking to SAP's HANA.
"We are working with SAP on the HANA platform to turbo charge our analysis. It needs that next generation," he said.