November 06, 2023
The Technology That Helps Oracle Red Bull Racing Build a Sim Racing Powerhouse
An “innovation partnership” with CDW enables the team to achieve success in esports as well as on the real track.
Practice, patience and people.
Those are essential elements to success as a professional sim racing driver in the Formula 1 Esports Series Pro Championship, says Josh Idowu, a driver for the Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing team.
Practice is an obvious factor, Idowu says, and he spends hours each day behind the wheel of his simulator, speeding around a virtual track. But patience is important, too, as competitors need to take their time to learn all the nuances of the game. People are also critical to his success, says Idowu, who credits his Red Bull teammates with getting him up to speed during an in-person bootcamp before the 2022 season started.
“It really is a huge team effort,” Idowu says. “We were all together practicing as a team in person, whereas other teams just let the drivers sit at home and do whatever. For me, having that access to the bootcamp was vital. I could just focus on driving and improving and learning from my teammates.”
The results speak for themselves. Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing won consecutive F1 Esports Series Pro Championship titles in 2019 and 2020, then finished second in 2022. Idowu secured three podiums and one pole position and finished seventh in the Drivers' Championship in 2022.
The other defining factor in Oracle Red Bull Racing’s success is technology. The team uses technology in a variety of ways to give itself an edge against other sim racing teams, and it relies on an “innovation partnership” with CDW to make sure it gets the most out of its investments in technology.
How Technology Fuels Success
In the relatively short time the team has competed in professional esports, Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing has amassed considerable success. The team, which was founded in 2018, vies with opponents across three competitions: the Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup, V10 R-League and the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship. The team supports seven drivers, including Idowu, and a technical engineer.
The success of Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing’s team follows its recent domination in F1, which includes winning the Drivers’ World Championship in 2021, 2022 and 2023. However, one key difference between F1 and sim racing is that all sim drivers have access to the same virtual vehicles. The teams that practice most effectively and optimize the tools they have are the ones that gain an edge toward winning.
“The grid is really, really tight,” says Joe Soltysik, the Esports Lead for Oracle Red Bull Racing. “It's all down to individual skill and how they handle pressure, as well as any marginal gain we could have by using technology better.”
High-powered hardware and data analytics are key to giving the team an edge on high-caliber opponents.
The Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing team recently overhauled the PCs it uses for training and competition. CDW delivered HP OMEN gaming PCs to the seven drivers on the team, as well as technical engineer Liam Parnell. Intel processors give the machines the computing speed they need to run high-end racing simulations at top speed without lag or glitches.
“We need that equipment to be reliable and consistent,” Soltysik says. “You can’t underestimate the importance of reliability. If a PC breaks, that can completely ruin hours if not days of practice for our drivers.”
The PCs also support the gathering of telemetry data as team members train and compete. Parnell oversees the analysis of huge amounts of data compiled by the team to find spots where team members may be able to shave a fraction of a second off their time and establish an advantage over their competitors. Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing harnesses more than 40,000 data points per second and sends this information to the Oracle Cloud for analysis.
For example, if one driver is faster than another, the team can compare the telemetry between the drivers to see where differences exist and offer guidance on how the slower driver can improve. “The technology we use really helps shape, develop and coach our drivers, who are already performing at the highest level, to help find those marginal gains,” Parnell says.
How an “Innovation Partnership” with CDW Boosts ORBR
Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing credits its partnership with CDW for the smooth delivery of the fleet of high-performance gaming PCs the team needed. “Without CDW, we wouldn’t have been able to get those PCs in the time that we did and on the scale that we did,” Soltysik says. “They were incredibly supportive and helpful in sourcing that equipment and delivering it on a large scale, particularly for PCs of that power, with the requirements we needed.”
Doug Konopelko, senior manager for education impact with CDW, sees the company’s relationship with the Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing team in much the same light. In both the real world and virtual esports world, he says, CDW provides technology that Oracle Red Bull Racing considers a vital piece of the puzzle to its success. But even more important, CDW’s expertise and knowledge of the latest esports technologies help assess what tools can keep the team ahead of its competitors.
“We want to bring the best possible solutions to the table that will enable them to be as competitive on the virtual track as they are on the physical track,” he says.
CDW’s extensive experience in esports competitions positions it as a valuable voice in the virtual arena. Konopelko, who previously served as CDW’s esports lead, has been pivotal in the growth and evolution of its esports practice. The company established the practice in 2018 to address widespread interest in esports from schools and universities. The realm of esports has evolved rapidly in recent years to include full-time professionals such as the Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing team, and CDW’s experience is valuable to these organizations.
The Continuing Evolution of Technology in Esports
Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing plans to stay ahead of the curve as sim racing technology evolves. In the past decade, the equipment that esports competitors use — PCs, steering wheels, pedals and gaming chairs — has changed immensely. These elements bring greater realism to the competitions and a better overall experience for the competitors.
“All of the technology is improving. We are using better technology now, both in terms of the PCs we use and peripherals like wheels and pedals, than we used in 2019 or 2020,” Idowu says. “Everything’s evolving. I'm looking forward to seeing how far it can go.”
Story by Matt McLaughlin, an editor with BizTech magazine.