“There are opportunities…to almost leap a generation”: Williams F1 on how security tech can help it transform its fortunes — in Formula 1 and beyond

“There are opportunities…to almost leap a generation”: Williams F1 on how security tech can help it transform its fortunes — in Formula 1 and beyond

For businesses all over the world, staying secure is of paramount importance, and passwords play a large part of that.

But when it comes to top-level password security, the world of Formula 1 is keen to be at the forefront of development, as it is in so many areas, with many teams signing up official cybersecurity partners.

Williams F1 and Keeper Security announced their partnership at the Miami Grand Prix earlier in 2024, and have been working closely together ever since to integrate the latter’s password manager technology into the race team’s systems – TechRadar Pro spoke to the team ahead of the 2024 British Grand Prix to find out more.

Discipline

“Cybersecurity is a critical area of Formula 1,” notes James Bower, Commercial Director at Williams F1. “Competing in the most technologically advanced sport in the world, data is absolutely critical to us, it just drives all our development, all of our innovation.”

Although a workforce of around a thousand workers does put Williams F1 into the field of Keeper’s typical SMB customer base, Bower notes that its high brand awareness does leave it open to what he calls, “a disproportionate level of threats compared to the size of our organization.”

Much like many normal businesses, human error is always a worry when it comes to cybersecurity protection. But in a sport that travels all over the world, often with just a few days gap in between races, Bower notes that fatigue from this journeying across multiple time zones to then carry out both mentally and physically demanding tasks such as pit stops and car maintenance can be a potential security risk.

“We have to be really disciplined because we have the cost cap environment, so partnerships are driven by authentic use of technology – we won’t be taking technology that we don’t need, or doesn’t provide performance to the team.”

“When we look at password and security management, a lot of that is about integration into our systems across the business, from an engineering and manufacturing point of view – it’s not just individuals, it’s the systems that enable them to work together.”

“The rate of development in Formula 1 is relentless – if you’re not bringing two-tenths of a second a weekend, each race, you risk going backwards – and data is at the heart of that.”

(Image credit: Keeper Security)

Bower is realistic in noting that Williams F1 probably won’t be fighting for the driver’s or team world championship in 2024, but notes that this does provide an opportunity for the team to try some things a little differently.

“There are opportunities within enterprise technology to almost leap a generation,” he says, “the way we build the infrastructure of the team, the systems, the processes…we’re not as wedded to existing infrastructure.” 

He adds that the top teams are in such a relentless development race that they wouldn’t be able to completely change or remove technology systems – but as Williams is transforming the team, they can be a bit more flexible and grab the opportunity.