Applied Technology: Riedel Manages Race Communications

The new Sochi Autodrom is among the world’s most modern race circuits. The race track encompasses Sochi Olympic Park, site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. One of the key challenges to building this new race track was to create a reliable and secure communications infrastructure over a 2km area. Riedel was selected to manage that portion of the project.

The new Sochi Autodrom is among the world’s most modern race circuits. The race track encompasses  Sochi Olympic Park, site of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. One of the key challenges for track officials was to build a secure communications infrastructure around this large site. Riedel was selected to help complete the project.

General contractor _wige SOLUTIONS was responsible for the overall technical design of the Formula One (F1) circuit, including track surveillance and monitoring, time keeping, race control, and marshaling. The main challenge in establishing secure radio coverage lay in overcoming the 2km distance spanned by the circuit and working around two large buildings — the Iceberg Skating Palace and the Bolshoi Ice Dome. Finally, during an F1 race week, the communication needs of pit crews, car drivers, and broadcasters create additional interference, making good radio coverage a challenge.

Installation

As with all the other F1 races it has supported, Riedel supplied the Sochi Autodrom circuit with IT infrastructure and access management, as well as communications and signal transmission solutions including special headsets for radio and intercom systems.

The RF environment surrounding the Sochi race track is complex, requiring precise frequency coordination and user management.

The RF environment surrounding the Sochi race track is complex, requiring precise frequency coordination and user management.

The race track relies on a Riedel Artist digital matrix intercom system with Artist frames deployed to enable both race control and race marshal communications. Fifteen thousand meters of fiber optic cables were laid to provide the fiber backbone for circuit-wide communications.

For race day, more than 500 Artist key-panels and 1,500 TETRA radios were supplied to Formula One Management, Formula One Administration, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), and the Formula One race teams so everyone had reliable and clear communications.

Because the radio systems used by the FIA and most of the F1 teams were configured, built, and maintained by Riedel, they were fully compatible with the Riedel-built Sochi Autodrom communications infrastructure. Riedel also integrated the independent backup “Marshal Mail System” into the overall design with functions programmed into the Artist key-panels.

Photo of Race Control where multiple operators can access key officials throughout the race track and arena.

Photo of Race Control where multiple operators can access key officials throughout the race track and arena.

Operators in Race Control can communicate seamlessly with race marshals via both radio and intercom. In addition to providing redundancy, the network’s fiber optic star architecture makes it possible for Race Control management to address each marshal post individually.

The dispatcher system uses a Riedel Juggler system to integrate Motorola TETRA radios into the Artist intercom system. A 15-channel TETRA base station supports a permanent complement of 350 TETRA handheld radios, as well as 247 Max headsets and 170 Air headsets, both developed specifically for motorsports. On race day, Riedel provides another 1,000 TETRA radios and headsets and an on-site support staff.

Results

On Oct. 12, 2014, the Sochi Autodrom hosted Russia’s inaugural Formula One (F1) Grand Prix race. The Riedel-built communications network performed as promised. Tailored to the individual needs of the operator, the Artist key-panels were intuitively controllable, allowing users to focus on safety-critical tasks, even in the high-pressure environment of a Grand Prix race.

Working with _wige SOLUTIONS and race organizers, Riedel demonstrated the quality and reliability of its solutions, as well as their value in permanent racing and broadcast infrastructures.

The modular design of the Artist intercom system makes it easy to reconfigure communications to meet the needs of other events taking place at the Sochi Autodrom. The interoperability of various Riedel systems allows for a comprehensive and unified approach to managing both radio and intercom needs.

Because the Riedel central radio and intercom system can be programmed, monitored, and maintained remotely via Ethernet connection, race preparations can be streamlined and technical concerns lifted from the shoulders of individual users.

The combination of an experienced Riedel team along with the smooth interaction and reliability of the Riedel communications solution allowed for a successful Formula 1 event in Sochi, especially with regard to safety. The solution in place also provides a flexible foundation for future races.

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