Getting branding space on a Formula One car is incredibly expensive.

In a report by Forbes earlier this year it was revealed that sponsorship accounts for a third of the revenue generated by Formula One teams.

So in a sport where teams use as much available space as possible on their race cars to give advertisers a stage where 352.3 million people tune in, how did HPE get its name on cars without paying a cent?

Even more bizarre is that the teams actually pay HP Enterprise. Okay so perhaps it’s not all that bizarre that a firm pays for the products it uses but in the case of F1 paying another a firm to put its name on your car is an oddity.

The short answer is that HP Enterprise is a technical partner with many F1 teams but the longer answer has to do with HP Enterprise’s focus on the customer.

Speaking at HPE Reimagine 2018 in Johannesburg, distinguished technologist at HPE (his designation not ours), Sorin Cheran explains how the firm managed to get its name on F1 cars.

As much as Formula One is about cars zooming around a track it’s also about engineering and data analysis. Cars are fitted with hundreds of sensors and data from these sensors is poured over by engineers to get squeeze milliseconds from an engine. In the past this analysis could take ages and in F1, ages mean you are dead in the water.

So how did HPE help?

HPE approached F1 teams with solutions it felt would help improve their efficiencies. There are two solutions in particular mentioned by Cheran:

  • Moonshot
  • ProLiant m710X server cartridge

The team at HPE pitched to seven of the 10 teams and six of those teams chose HPE with all six also opting for Moonshot.

Moonshot is a software-defined server that HPE can customise to individual needs.

It must be said that HP Enterprise landed on this specific solution after much research regarding what F1 teams need from computing. As Cheran quips, “We couldn’t help with the design of the engine but we can help with the computing needs.”

The ProLiant server can run simple tasks such as basic word processing all the way up to more intensive healthcare applications.

Combined, Moonshot and ProLiant solutions present a simple yet powerful, agile solution for high performance computing, computational fluid dynamics and more. High speed, agile computing that allows near immediate analysis is exactly what an F1 team needs and Moonshot provides that.

Cheran explains that Moonshot improved efficiency by 15 – 20 percent while performance of improved by 31 – 33 percent depending on which solution you compare it to.

But the message Cheran wants to drive home is that HPE is customer centric and intent on providing its customers with the best solutions possible that suit their needs.

“This not an HPE story,” explains Cheran. “This is not a Moonshot story, or one about high performance computing. This is an HPE customer story. My team rallied around F1 with the goal of signing all the teams and went to great lengths to investigate how we can make our customers go faster.”

And this is the defining point of what HPE is doing. Yes the company wants you to buy its products because what good business doesn’t want that. But with HPE it’s about making sure that customers get the value they need from the solutions HPE recommends.

All businesses could learn from HPE. In a world where technology and innovation move at light speed customer service is becoming a unique selling point and the presence of HPE branding on F1 cars without the organisation having to pay for that space should stand as testament to the lengths HPE went to meet the needs of F1 teams.

“This is what my team is doing and what we all should be doing,” concludes Cheran.