Dealing With Data: Interview with Matteo Flamigni

We all know that MotoGP machines contain an impressive amount of software and electronics that produce data, but what do the teams do with it? Where is all this data stored? And how will the regulation updates in the 2016 MotoGP season change their ways of managing data? We asked Valentino Rossi’s Data Engineer Matteo Flamigni his view and took the opportunity to get to know him a little better.

Valentino has been competing in MotoGP for many years, how far back does the data go?

“We have data from 2004 from Valentino, that’s a huge amount of data. Normally we check the previous year’s data before the race, the dynamic of the bike, what did we do, that’s the best base to start with.”

Is that data just from Valentino or are there any other riders data mixed?

“At the moment I just check Valentino because I must be ready to give him a good base. We also have Lorenzo’s data to check, but that is during the practices. For the start, I only check Valentino. We have a big server in the garage where all the data is stored and the capacity is quite big because it takes up a big amount of memory.”

How do you store it?

“I just download all the information from the bike and that goes straight into the big server. It’s basically a big memory storage system. We just look inside at the data that we need.”

What do you do if the previous data you have of a circuit does not match with what you’re getting from the bike?

“It’s interesting to check what we did in the past because it’s a sort of a lesson we learn from the previous year. It’s good experience, this information, even if it doesn’t match 100%, at the start, it’s a good base. Instead of starting from zero, at least you start from something.”

What can you tell from all the data?

“For data we can tell a lot of things, because we have sensors telling you information about the dynamics of the bike, so the braking, accelerating, throttle. Then we have a lot of sensors providing information about the engine performance and many other sensors that are diagnostic for the bike. Basically I can tell you everything about the bike.”

If I would give you data would you be able to tell which circuit it’s coming from?

“Maybe yes. I should think about it a bit, but yes.”

Would you be able to tell where exactly on the circuit they are?

“Yes, that’s easier, because as soon as you recognise the circuit, then all the corners are easy.”

If I gave you data from different riders, could you tell who is who?

“Probably yes, I know him very well and in the last years we always kept comparing Valentino with his team-mate of the time; Checa, Edwards, Lorenzo… By comparing the different styles of the riders, I learned what Valentino’s riding style is like.”

What is so significant about his riding style compared to others?

“For example the way he brakes, that is something special, because he’s very good in braking. The way he makes the change of direction, he’s very fast doing that. He’s very fast in the fast corners and the way he uses the rear brake and the front brake, the way he moves the bike. There are many thing that tell about the rider.”

Is there any way you could tell the current bike apart from the previous years?

“That needs a bit more deep analysing, it’s not so easy. It’s easy to check if the engine is faster or not, because you can see the speed and the acceleration, but dynamically to test the new chassis or old chassis, you should check very deeply.”

With this software freezing next year, what does that mean to you?

“I was very happy with the current software, it was very good. They told me they took the best from each manufacturer, so the software itself is going to be quite good I hope. I think the previous data can therefore still be helpful.”

What makes software good or bad?

“Many things, for example it depends if you can program different traction control corner by corner. Or maybe a different kind of anti-wheelie. You can have many different strategies, the more precise and the more input you have, the better output for the anti-wheelie is. So rough software can help just a little bit for the anti-wheelie, but good software can keep the bike perfectly straight and go fast and allow sliding only when you want to.”

When you watch races, is that what you see?

“No. Have you seen the movie ‘The Matrix’? When I see the bike moving I see the numbers, the graphs, the lines, it’s unbelievable!”

Is it like that with any other kind of races too?

“More or less, yes. I see all the numbers going through the ECU, the strategies, the binaries, I see numbers everywhere.”

Do you watch races just for fun? Can you relax when a race is on?

“Yes, I can enjoy them. As soon as the race starts, my job is done, I can’t do anything more, so I enjoy what I have done and see my rider trying to win the battle. I just happen to see the races with numbers and fuel consumption.”

When you start a weekend, what’s the first thing that you do?
“On Thursday we check the data from last year, to have an idea what we did, which is the good base for starting. For example if last year we used a lot of traction control because the track was very slippery, that’s a good indication because maybe this year if they didn’t resurface the track we might face the same kind of problems. Or maybe we used the gearbox in a certain way. If we start from this base, this year it’s not going to be very far from last year. Looking at the data from previous years is always very important.”

How consistent is Valentino?

“Very consistent, he is very precise. When the bike is OK he can make the same lap time many laps in a row. It’s incredible.”

How accurate is he when he provides you with feedback?

“This is the best point to Valentino, yes. It helps a lot. Can you imagine how much data I have to check? Luckily he tells me exactly which corner, which lap, so it’s easy for me because I can go straight away to the source of the problem.”

For people who want to get to work with a living legend such as Valentino, how did you get the job?

“I was already here when Valentino joined the team. I started with Yamaha in November 1999 and that moment Max Biaggi was riding a Yamaha and he asked me to work for Yamaha, for him, so I accepted the job. I still remember, we were in Argentina for the GP, so I signed the contract there for the 2000 season as the data recording engineer for Max Biaggi and from that point I kept working for Yamaha.”

How did you know Max?

“Because his physiotherapist was living not far from my place and he knew that I was working with Yamaha, we were both Italian and the team at that moment was completely consisting of English speaking people. He needed a few Italians, so he asked me to join.”

If you weren’t working in Motorsports, what would you be doing?

“I think maybe I would work in cycling company stuff, because I’m very passionate about cycling, I love bicycles and I love putting electronic stuff on the bicycle.

Do you consider yourself a ‘Yamaha-man’?

“Yes, and now even more than before. I had a moment where I switched to Ducati for two years and luckily I could come back. The feeling I had in that moment makes me understand that for me, Yamaha is a family, that’s my place. I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else anymore, I want to stay here and I feel very comfortable here.”

Could you name three things you’re good at?

“I speak easily with everybody. Well maybe you should ask other people, it’s not easy to say positive things about myself… I’m honest with myself and the people who are working with me and, also, I’m skilled at my job. I have good experience and know what to do”

Which team member have you known the longest?

“Brent (mechanic for Valentino), I think… He was working with me already in 1999, when I joined the team he was already there.”

What do you do for fun or to relax during GP weekends?

“I like to read and to watch movies and mostly I listen to music. I love all music. Sometimes I go running with Maio and the other guys. I also did half a marathon.”

Just as a challenge?

“Yes, it was a challenge, but it’s also a good moment to stay all together and talk, I enjoy it and also you feel better afterwards. It’s good.”

You like all music. Which books and movies do you like?

“For movies, I like ‘The Matrix’ and stuff like that, about the future and new electronics. When it comes to books, I like the books from Kathy Reichs, about serial killers and stuff like that, and another one, Jeffery Deaver. Also John Grisham. What I like about it is the way they find the guilty people. I like the way they think, by just analysing small pieces of evidence. I analyse to get an understanding, and they also analyse to understand situations, maybe that’s why!”

What are three must-have items for you during a grand prix?

“Ipod, or Iphone, because of the music. A book, of course, and my cycling or running stuff.”

Throughout the whole season, what’s your favourite place to go to?

“There are many good places to go… Misano I like, because I like the atmosphere. In that period of the year everybody is on holiday. You go there for the GP, but it’s not like you’re working. When you go out you see many people, many tourists, and also it’s not far from my home, just one hour by car, so I feel at home. It’s the same for Mugello. I go there for work, but it feels like I’m at home. Another good place is America, I like it there. Every time I discover something new, I try something different. For example this year when we went to Austin, we had a great bicycle ride together with a few people. I really enjoyed it because I didn’t know the area very well and it’s very nice, it was great. At Indy, there is a nice river next to the hotel where you can run, very relaxing, very de-stressing. You feel like new! Unfortunately we don’t go to Laguna anymore, that was also incredible. But really, I could tell you something about every place! I’m lucky, because I really enjoy what I’m doing.”

Can you name something surprising about you that not a lot of people know?

“I have about 12 tattoos, but they’re under my shirt, you can’t see them. They are small, but they all remind me about me, my life. I get them for special moments that are close to my heart. Also, I’m quite skinny, but I eat like an elephant! I try to eat healthily, but sometimes I can also eat a lot of chocolate or ice cream. Ice cream is my weak spot! I had two ice creams today and tonight I will have one more… Or maybe two!”


情報提供元 [ YAMAHA Racing ]



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