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November 23, 2014

How BlackBerry helped Lewis Hamilton win the 2014 F1 Drivers’ Championship

Security and productivity is key for F1 teams, and Mercedes AMG tooled up with BlackBerry to accomplish this.

By Ben Sullivan

It takes all kinds of technology sponsors to help sports teams win championships, so CBR recently took a trip to the home of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 in Brackley to find out how crucial BlackBerry was in making Lewis Hamilton the world champion and Mercedes AMG constructor’s champion in the 2014 Grand Prix season.

Mercedes AMG took on BlackBerry two years ago, and now operates around 200 BlackBerry phones in the company, ranging from the brand new Passport device to Z10s and Q10s.

Operated mostly within the firm’s IT infrastructure team, CBR was told of how BlackBerry’s enterprise productivity platform helped give Hamilton the ability to win on the track in Brazil, and ultimately win the 2014 F1 championship.


Lewis Hamilton and team mate Nico Rosberg on the podium. Source: Mercedes AMG Petronas


Security is a main concern for Formula 1 teams, as any leaked data could give their competitors the edge. BlackBerry’s enterprise mobility management platform BES10.1, released last year, is the lynchpin of Mercedes F1’s IT operations, and enables a regulated BYOD policy that prioritises confidentiality. For the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team, confidentiality is the difference between winning and losing.

"For us as a business, security is as important as the performance of the car, because otherwise we give away that performance to other people," said Matt Harris, IT Director for Mercedes F1.

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Paddy Lowe, the team’s Executive Director (Technical), agrees. "Formula One today is a very big operation," he says.

"One of the strengths of Mercedes AMG Petronas is our unity with our engine supplier, Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth. We have to communicate not only between the factories, but also with the teams at the races. Security is a very critical issue."

The team uses BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10) encrypted solutions to deliver mobile security across its operations, as it races at 19 locations globally during the course of a season.

With tens of thousands of BES10 servers installed globally, BlackBerry says it is up to the challenge. The Canadian firm is capable of moving to keep up with customer needs, pairing that agility with security and a sense of trust. Mercedes says it is mission critical.

Andy Cowell, MD of Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, said: "BlackBerry is a critical part of our daily business. It provides that instant access to the data, the last message you read before your plane takes off then turning the phone on when the plane lands and immediately picking up the BBM messages and some photos that have come through from the circuit, looking inside the engine all of that is critical to understand how we are doing how we are performing and that’s where BlackBerry give us a real edge."

Just as the team balances the tires on their F1 cars, BES10 also has the ability to balance enterprise and user needs, which is important for such a cornerstone in the team’s communication infrastructure.

"BES10 allows us to know what’s going on with the data – we know that it’s secure, whether I am sharing with a member of the marketing team, an engineer or a designer," says Harris. "It enables people to carry on working where they are. One of the main
features that we really like is the ability to secure your personal and work information."

"As I look around the business I can see everyone around me using BlackBerry devices," says Paddy Lowe. "That’s another step towards seamless integration between the office and the track." That seamless integration into the complete solution of BES is a relief for Harris.

"Last year we migrated over to BES10," he says. "We used BlackBerry beforehand, but we also had other devices. We weren’t ever as confident in the security of those other devices."


BES10 has a host of features, from multi-OS device, security and app management through a single management console to a selection of enterprise apps designed to be securely deployed with BlackBerry 10 as well as Secure Work Space for iOS and Android. IT managers can deploy and manage applications across all managed devices while staying compliant with comprehensive device and app monitoring and reporting. For Mercedes, keeping in touch was made easy by BlackBerry.

But it’s world champion Hamilton himself who gets the final say on BlackBerry’s effectiveness.

"Everything we do at Mercedes AMG Petronas is about speed," Hamilton said. "It dictates the way we operate both on and off the track. All of my team uses the BlackBerry smartphones. I’m always being updated, whether it’s a question about what setup do I want for tomorrow…to be able to react quickly and having BBM and BBM video just makes it so much easier."


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