Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Yas Marina, 2019

Server crash caused DRS black-out during Abu Dhabi GP

2019 F1 season

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A data server crash led to DRS being disabled for 17 laps at the start of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Drivers are only allowed to activate DRS at certain points on the track when they are within one second of another car. FIA race director Michael Masi said the crash meant they could not supply the necessary consistent data feed to the cars in order to ensure it was only used at the correct points on the circuit.

“A data server crashed,” he explained. “The timing was still operating as we all saw. But that crashed, [so] immediately we disabled it.” The system couldn’t be re-activated “until we were 100 percent confident that it was all not only back up and running, but back up and running with the correct data available.

“So we ran various checks working collaboratively the FIA and F1 group to make sure that everything was working hunky-dory. Until that point in time we were not going to take a chance until we were confident.”

A back-up system was used to restore the necessary data feed to the cars. “The first part is to actually identify what the first issue was,” said Masi. “And as we all know, with any back-up systems there’s a lag in things clicking over.

“[We made] sure it was back up and running, and back up and running in a stable condition that we were confident with what was being sent was being sent equally and correctly. And once we were happy with that between us, we reactivated it and enabled DRS.”

The system is jointly run by the FIA and FOM, said Masi. He added it was hard to predict exactly what would have happened if they hadn’t disabled DRS after noticing the problems with the data feed.

“It wouldn’t have been a free for all. To be honest, the exact impacts of it, I’d prefer not to even think about what they were. But the precautionary measure straight away was just to do a global disable [of DRS].”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Server crash caused DRS black-out during Abu Dhabi GP”

  1. Can we have that server crashing more often? Because it didn’t hurt the racing in my eyes. Dare I say it, it actually made the back straight a fairer fight than a push-to-pass stretch.

  2. Ok, can we keep it permanently disabled?

    Systems will perfectly support this mode even if main and backup systems crash!

    1. And on DR time – 17 laps for just one system… mmm… I would say it was a bit too much. And why is it not a live/hot DR solution…

      Mr.Masi, anyway, performing more DR tests will not harm.

    2. @dallein man you took the words out of my mouth.

  3. I actually quite liked the racing without DRS, it was quite refreshing to see real battles and real overtakes!

    1. It was quite refreshing to see a long lasting train with no battles and overtakes.

  4. Brought to you by AWS…

    1. I’m pretty sure that all servers are local… Besides, AWS is pretty much rock stable, at least it has for us. We’ve been running on EC2 for 10 years (in the Ireland data center), and we’ve had zero unscheduled downtime due to AWS. We’ve had server crashes, but that was the OS and services running on it, never because of EC2 outages.

  5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    1st December 2019, 18:27

    The cynic in me just wondered if they wanted to see what would happen without it for a while. Last race of the season, effectively non-championship race etc.

    1. Haha, yeah I was also thinking was this one of Ross Brawn’s experiments!
      ;)

  6. Anybody have info on what they run trackside for timing/DRS? My sysadmin curiosity is peaked!

  7. I’m curious who is the provider of the system, I don’t know if the FIA/FOM develops in house software or not. Even if the server on which the system is installed crashes, it’s still the responsibility of the provider to ensure the high availability of the system (unless it’s not written in the contract) which is not that hard to achieve nowadays with containerization software, cloud computing…
    Imagine the impact of such malfunction of the system if today’s race was a championship decider and one of the title contenders was stuck behind a slower car (Alonso vs Petrov in 2010)

  8. Whether you like or hate DRS I found this really poor, DRS is in the sports rules and it was applied inconsistently at this race. This is like playing a game of football with a basketball, it’s not the way the game is intended to be played.

  9. “as we all know, with any back-up systems there’s a lag in things clicking over”
    No, there really doesn’t have to be.

  10. Was good to see some real racing for once. There’s nothing special about a straight forward DRS overtake whatsoever.

  11. Amazing. Best 17 laps of the race.

    People were still overtaking, and doing it in interesting places.

    I woukd not mind if this DRS server would crash more often.

    1. I agree. Somehow the race became far less interesting after the DRS was enabled. I felt Nico Hulkenberg was hard done by because was running about 4th or 5th and managed to keep some of the “front running regulars” behind him when suddenly DRS was turned on and he got overtaken by them.

  12. A back-up system was used to restore the necessary data feed to the cars. “The first part is to actually identify what the first issue was,” said Masi. “And as we all know, with any back-up systems there’s a lag in things clicking over.

    What does Masi smoke? If you have a backup system it should always be configured for Hot-Standby so it can takeover duties of main system within few milliseconds of a crash. My university DataCentre has a DR(80:20 loading) and it takes over the duty of main system immedeatly in case main DC is down for whatever reason. It seems like FOM hires a lot of Ferrari engineers who are incompetant at doing their jobs.

  13. José Lopes da Silva
    2nd December 2019, 1:29

    “Server crash caused DRS black-out during Abu Dhabi GP”

    If you read this in 1999, you would think Microprose’s “Grand Prix 2” had already turned into esports.

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