Matt Cadieux, a head engineer and chief information officer at Infiniti Red Bull Racing, spoke Wednesday to a packed auditorium of UT engineers and Formula One enthusiasts about the behind-the-scenes engineering that he said plays a critical role in the company’s champion racing team.
The team Cadieux works for, sponsored by Red Bull, already has three World Championships under its belt, and Cadieux said the team hopes to win this weekend’s US Grand Prix with the help of driver Sebastian Vettel. The race will be hosted at the new Circuit of the Americas track, which is about 15 miles south of Austin. Yet despite what he called growing glamour of the sport and its brand, Cadieux said the sport is still mainly a battle between engineers.
“What a lot of people see is the glamorous side of racing,” said Cadieux. “But the reality is that we’re just a hard-working engineering company.”
Cadieux emphasized his point with a multimedia presentation highlighting the Red Bull team’s world record 2.05-second tire change and aerodynamic improvements in downforce that keep pressure on the tires in even the sharpest turns — using the windstream to push the cars toward the tracks with enough force that they could, hypothetically, drive upside down. Though Cadieux also stressed the athletic endurance of Formula One drivers, he emphasized the major role technology plays in determining victors.
“The opportunity to create incredible things like this is why I’m an engineer,” mechanical engineering sophomore Howard Kay said.
The event was sponsored by the Cockrell School of Engineering in conjunction with Red Bull and Formula SAE, the UT student formula racing team. Bharg Gor, a chemical engineering senior and the team manager of Formula SAE, said the team has seen a substantial increase in the number of engineering students interesting in formula racing as a result of Austin’s hosting of the US Grand Prix.
“This year we’ve had more recruits than before because last year’s US Grand Prix in Austin was wildly successful,” Gor said. “Publicity events like this are a big help to our team’s efforts to recruit.”
The FIA Formula One World Championship sees the Austin-based US Grand Prix as an important part of its brand-expansion strategy.
“The United States is the world economic superpower and a huge untapped market for Formula One racing,” Cadieux said. “Our hope is that hosting a US Grand Prix here in Austin will change that.”