The Mercedes Formula One team has joined forces with British sailor Ben Ainslie in a quest to win the America’s Cup for Great Britain’s Royal Yacht Squadron.
The America’s Cup is the oldest international trophy in sport, predating the Olympics by 45 years, but has not been won by a British team since it was first held as a race around the Isle of Wight in 1851. The Ineos Britannia team, skippered by Ainslie, hopes to change that by working closely with British-based Mercedes team to build a yacht capable of defeating the current holders, Emirates Team New Zealand.
The link-up between the two teams comes via Ineos, which owns a third of the F1 team and is the main backer of Ineos Britannia. The sailing team will be based at Mercedes’ headquarters in Brackley, leaning on the engineering resources of various departments via the F1 team’s Mercedes Applied Science division.
Mercedes is expecting to have as many as 50 people working on the early design process of the yacht once the regulations, date and location for the 37th America’s Cup are agreed in mid-November by New Zealand and Great Britain. Mercedes’ chief technical officer, James Allison, who recently took a step back from the F1 side of the company, will be the technical lead on the yacht project.
Shouldn’t Mercedes be focusing on F1, not yachts?
While the project has an obvious commercial tie-up via Ineos, Mercedes is also keen to make the project work for the engineering benefit of the F1 team. The America’s Cup is often known as ‘F1 on water’, and clear links can be made between the hydrodynamics that allow a racing yacht to “fly” on its foils in the sea and the aerodynamics that keep an F1 car pinned to the track.
But Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says the joint project will offer more than just a new revenue stream for the team through Mercedes Applied Science.
“We have had situations where engineers said, we have done this for seven years — and many were even longer — with seven world championships and they are asking where the next challenge is,” Wolff said. “And it doesn’t go any bigger than the challenge of winning the America’s Cup as Challenger of Record.
“You are being the underdog, so you need to do an even better job. So that is of benefit because we retain the ability in-house and they are not going elsewhere — within the industry or outside. Some of the people throughout the departments have said this is a nice challenge that they would like to take up for the next three or five years and gain some understanding, which probably can be deployed back into Formula One.
“It’s almost like an activity that is so competitive that you need all your cognitive and intellectual concentration and that becomes an advantage when you are looking back into Formula One and it takes you out of your comfort zone.”
Part of the reason the Mercedes team can afford to lend significant resources to the America’s Cup campaign is thanks to Formula One’s new budget cap this year. The introduction of a $145 million spending cap in 2021 forced the team to make cuts in its design and engineering departments, but by shifting staff to a non-F1 project outside the cap they can continue to work for the team.
“From a cost cap point of view, this team was bigger last year than you could afford in a cost cap this year and that means a certain amount of our resources is able to work on this type of project,” Allison said. “As the rhythm of the Cup campaign requires it, hopefully it will intermesh adequately well with the corresponding demands that happen over in F1 land, so all the skill that we have here can be brought to bear.”
Mercedes Applied Science also works on other projects, including the design and optimisation of road bikes, running shoes and Ineos’ off-road vehicle the Grenadier. Wolff said the decision to diversify the business away from F1 came from looking at the success of sports franchises in the U.S.A..
“We looked at this pretty early because I’m always keen to learn from other sports leagues and when you look over the ocean at the most developed American sports leagues – the NBA and the NFL – these guys have diversified into real estate and into the hospitality business by the sheer fact that they are having a stadium,” Wolff said. “And I think for us the logical next step is diversifying into engineering. We have created all this I.P. that we have never deployed on any other vehicle other than a racing car.
“We have never monetised any of the I.P. that exists here, and you are talking billions of spend into technology in a Formula One team, so that’s why it sounds pretty logical that other teams are also looking at that space.
“But Mercedes Applied Science is not a commercial engineering entity. We are not pitching actively for engineering jobs, but we want to work with people who want to break records or win championships in land, sea, air and space. We have seen how the most challenging of all racing, the pinnacle comparable to Formula One, and this is not in the pursuit of margin, but more in the pursuit of learning and diversification for the benefit of Formula One.
“In the same way, a great new project for engineers that have learned their laurels in Formula One but they want to look at something different. Having said that, it needs to stand on its own commercial legs.
“It’s our way of diversifying into other business areas, but we need to make sure that we are a contributing partner with the same ambition that we have in Formula One racing but without distracting from any of the two activities: they must run in parallel.
“We don’t want to read the headline in three years that since we have started sailing we haven’t been winning on the road. That must not happen.”
How will Mercedes F1 technology make a yacht go faster?
While Allison will be the technical lead on Ineos Britannia’s America’s Cup campaign, German naval designer Martin Fischer will lead the design concept. As tempting as it is to imagine shapes from Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car emerging on a racing yacht, the reality is that Mercedes’ engineering know-how will more likely contribute to parts of the boat you can’t see.
“Areas which are harder for America’s Cup teams to do but are the meat and drink of an F1 team are all the systems that we have in place to know, for example, that if you want to put a hydraulic pipe down a certain length of something, how far away to keep all the other things so it doesn’t fret on the pipe and how often down the pipe do you need to support it so it doesn’t bounce around so much and the type of equipment that we have to inspect stuff so that we know that what is designed is what we built and are assembling,” Allison said.
“All of the design standards that have been painfully learnt and written into a procedure in an F1 team can now be picked up and used by the community of engineers that is Britannia. That sort of stuff is pretty valuable.
“When you want all your good hydrodynamic and aerodynamic ideas to come true – i.e. the things that are coming from the marine folk of the team, backed up by the capable bodies that are working with them – then the boat has to be assembled on time and to the right qualities, it must not break down on the water so the sailors can learn while they are sailing it, so I think the maturity of the Mercedes Formula One team provides a really functional environment for the design engineers to then create designs that ought to be reliable and work.
“Hopefully we then build enough raw performance in to the boat to make it a competitive boat as well as reliable boat.”
Allison added: “We hope we properly understand that being good at racing cars doesn’t mean you are good at making yachts. What we wish to do is to learn from people that are good at doing yachts the manner in which we can best help.
“So my opening conversations with Martin were to try and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the previous campaign inside Ben’s team, the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign Martin was involved with in with Luna Rossa [the runner up at the 36th America’s Cup], to try to figure out how we can amplify the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses.
“And to see where there are areas of opportunity, like the engineering standards that we have is stuff that any engineering group can happily pick up and fall on like manna from heaven to just say that’s work we don’t need to do, can we just use that?
“To specifically try to get the likely key features, because we don’t know a location or the timing yet, but what are the likely key features and what sort of level of force are we going need.”
University students hold the keys to ‘level up’ the esports industry
Written by Tao Martinez, Head of University Esports Development at GGTech
For many students, getting in from a class or lecture means jumping onto CS:GO or League of Legends with their friends to pass the time and have a laugh for a few hours.
Climbing the ranks may spark conversation about “going professional” one day but forging a career in esports has never been more accessible for students, with the industry growing by the day.
The total revenue of the esports industry in 2021 was estimated by Newzoo to be $833.6 million, and this is enhanced by a rising number of jobs, university courses and opportunities, making it one of the fastest growing and desirable sectors to lead a career in.
The most obvious route into esports is through being the best at a given game, with teams willing to sign players up on a contract to represent them at tournaments and online leagues. And whilst this is desirable, there are actually a whole host of other careers within the industry.
With Covid fears beginning to fade, in-person gaming events are returning with competitions such as the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports Masters, hosted by GGTech in collaboration with NUEL, bringing together the best university talent across Europe to face off.
Beyond the players, these events require event organisers, planners and managers, advertising, sponsorship, social media promotion, casting, filming, tech support, and that’s before even getting to the participants which involves players, coaches, and team organisations.
There are so many aspects to a successful esports competition which in turn creates a wealth of jobs and opportunities – which are growing all the time. And these opportunities are also available through online esports leagues as well.
We are in an era where traditional television is being taken over by Netflix, YouTube and Twitch, creating new mediums for viewers to engage with esports, which is reflected by a growing viewer base.
Research from VentureBeat estimated that in 2021 there were 234 million esports enthusiasts, up from 197 and 200.8 million respectively in 2019, highlighting a stark growth. What’s more is that by 2024 there are expected to be 285.8 million enthusiasts and 291.6 million occasional viewers. Esports is a rapidly growing industry that people want to be involved with, and it’ll only get bigger in the coming years.
This is supported by an increase in job awareness through sites like Hitmarker, a dedicated jobs site for advertising esports opportunities.
The esports ecosystem supports universities through the development of teaching, facilities and opportunities in the industry which helps to focus on student’s interests whilst developing their core skills in preparation for a career in the industry.
For example, Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies, as part of Nottingham Trent University, offer a BSc in Esports Production which teaches students about the global esports industry, the principles of esports, production and technology, as well as broadcasting and management. This will be delivered in Confetti X, a £5 million dedicated esports complex due to open ahead of the upcoming academic year.
Universities such as Sheffield Hallam offer courses in esports management, whilst Chichester has its own esports degree. This is supplemented by universities such as Warwick who have large student esports communities who come together for competitions and tournaments.
The importance of good training in developing the esports industry is being increasingly recognised by universities who are creating new courses each year as a result. Courses involving business, management, events, marketing, journalism and design all offer unique skills which match up with a plethora of new jobs emerging in the esports scene, and with the industry growing at the rate it is, the number of these jobs will only rise.
Moving forwards, the onus is not only on the esports industry supplying opportunities for university students, but also on the university ecosystem to provide the highest-quality education and training in order to fuel the integration of new talent into the dynamic esports workforce.
In order to assist students who are pursuing a career in esports, GGTech works with university students to run and produce the Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports Masters competitions, giving them vital first-hand experience at casting, broadcasting and event management.
Part of the fabric for the future development and growth of the esports industry is putting faith in the talent of university students, being willing to innovate courses, equipment and opportunities, and supporting students every step of the way to help turn their hobby into their future employment.
That’s why university campuses are the best testing space for evolving equipment, products and services whilst allowing students to gain valuable experience, especially through internships and competition management.
Opening people’s eyes to the vast array of opportunities and careers that the esports sector has to offer will fuel the next generation to become the core of the industry during its rapid growth.
Now is the time for a career in esports
In the esports industry revenues are growing, viewership is growing, the number of participants is growing, and this is creating more and more opportunities all the time.
There is no better time to pursue a career in esports, and education is at the forefront of attracting prospective students into the industry. As the sector grows, we will see an increasing number of universities offering esports related courses and follow in the footsteps of Confetti in building dedicated facilities for students to gain the best first-hand experience for running tournaments.
Students should be encouraged to take the plunge, and universities and esports professionals must provide the best assistance possible to welcome in the new generation to help the entire esports industry grow.
Junior Hockey World Cup: Marquee QF clash might come down to who handles pressure better
Ahead of the two sides’ clash on Wednesday, there’s been some talk that India’s quarterfinal match against Belgium in the 2021 Junior Hockey World Cup will be a reprise of an earlier match – the final of the 2016 edition. Although India won that contest, just that result can’t be extrapolated to this latest encounter.
Being an age group tournament, it is obvious that neither team would still feature the same players from five years ago. Indeed, the only common figure from both those games will be Belgium’s coach Jeroen Baart. Individuals from both teams in that contest would graduate to the senior squad and ended up meeting in the semifinals of the Olympics, where the Belgians emerged victorious.
But even though this latest batch of players haven’t ever had a chance to play each other, they will know what they are up against. Wednesday’s match is a clash not just between two teams but of two philosophies of hockey – a classic stylistic matchup. “You see the DNA (playing style) comes down from the senior team, and the senior team is world no 1,” India’s coach Graham Reid said about Belgium. Reid doesn’t mean to say that Belgium’s style has been thrust down from what the seniors. Over the last decade, beginning from the juniors, Belgium has created a playing style that’s worked miracles for them – winning them the Olympic title this year. What this is is a solid defensive structure where Belgium controls the pace of the match. “We focus on control to create opportunities. For us that means maintaining structure and intensity,” says Jeroen Baart.
India have a philosophy too – one that’s also been a decade in the making and which resulted in a drought-ending Olympic bronze. Baart knows of this as well. “India play is about counterattacking with speed and vertical play. “Our style of play is very complimentary to India. India like to counter-attack using their speed and vertical play. They do it really well. We are focused on our defensive end and on controlling the ball to create opportunities,” says Baart.
Signs of vulnerabilities
Both teams will go into Wednesday’s clash knowing not just each others’ playing styles but also based on their performances so far at the World Cup what they aren’t happy facing with. In their first match of the tournament India fell to a shock 5-4 loss to France – a side that’s looking to cast itself in the Belgian model. The French controlled possession for much of the game and the Indians, except for a brief flurry in the final few minutes of the match, were unable to get into the shooting circle. That last bit of relentless pressure will trouble Belgium though. “We will have to survive those waves from India,” Baart says.
Belgium too have shown vulnerabilities in Bhubaneswar. In their second game against Malaysia – they were held to a surprise draw against a side that tightly defended, giving no opening of its own. India chief coach Graham Reid alluded to that as well. “”We also saw some vulnerability the Malaysians were able to capitalise on and hopefully we can do that,” said Reid. That though will be easier said than done since it would require going against the free flowing hockey the Indian team prizes.
Can they play their A-game?
While both sides have displayed vulnerabilities, they equally have the potential to nullify each other’s strengths as well. Both sides will find that their release tactics might not have the same kind of success as they might have had against other teams.
The Belgians for one might find the high ball — a tactic very successfully employed by their Olympic champion senior side as well –has no guarantee. Although the French side did manage to use the high ball successfully, that match was marked by unusually poor trapping and interception from the low-on-match-practice Indians, who would back themselves not to have two bad days in a week’s time.
India, on the other hand, will find that the kind of defenses that allowed their counterattacking play to end up scoring 25 goals in the league phase might not have the same kind of opportunities against a side that prides itself on its defensive structure. The fact that India have lost striker Maninder Singh due to injury might place addition pressure on the remaining first choice forward line. Coach Reid admits that impatience might be a factor should the young Indian side not get the kind of gifts they would have been used to over the last few days. “That’s (impatience) one of the tough parts when coaching someone younger since it doesn’t come naturally in younger boys. Kids at that age want things to happen right now. You have to try to teach them patience and move the ball around. When you see Belgium play, you will see that patience because it’s been ingrained in them growing up,” he admits.
In a high-stakes encounter against two sides who started as pre-tournament favourites, what both coaches admit will be critical is just who handles the pressure better. Should the hosts go 2-0 down as they did in their opening game against France, then it’s likely that scoreboard pressure could cause them to play poorer than they might otherwise have.”There might have been some nerves ahead of the first match of the tournament. Hopefully that would have been washed away by now. What I’m focused on is that we are tight in defence all through the game. But our priority would be to get off to a good start,” says Reid.
Baart will be hoping to deny India of just that. “It’s going to be a fantastic match-up. We expect a lot of attacking and aggression from the Indian team. We need to have the right structure and the right intensity at the right moment to deal with it.”
Utah State Stands Out in Group of Five
Utah State was projected to win three games this season. The Aggies had other ideas. They are 9-3 and playing for the Mountain West Conference championship on Saturday. San Diego State is the opponent. The Aztecs also proved the experts wrong in the college football odds.
Utah State Aggies
Utah State is +5000 to win the MWC title and the Mountain Division champion is a 5½-point underdog to San Diego State in the college football spreads. The Aggies opened the season with three straight wins to reach their projected total. After losing two in a row, they rewarded over bettors in their sixth game, but that came at a -145 price.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Northern Illinois wasn’t thought of too highly at 3½ wins in the Las Vegas odds. The Huskies started 1-2 but rattled off five straight triumphs, giving over players the victory along the way. Northern Illinois has won eight games and is +5000 to win the Mid-American Conference title on Saturday as a three-point dog against Kent State
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Western Kentucky is +700 to claim the Conference USA title as a 1½-point favorite versus UTSA on Friday. The Hilltoppers figured to be in the middle of the pack with an over-under of 5½ wins. Under players were getting what they wanted when Western Kentucky began 1-4. But seven straight victories later, over players have long since counted their money.
San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State, the MWC West Division champion, won 11 games after its over-under was set at 6½ for betting online. The Aztecs needed only seven contests to sail over the number. San Diego State is also a big price to wear the conference crown at +1400.
Texas-San Antonio won a school-record 11 games to start the season, smashing its projected win total of eight. The Roadrunners were the third choice to win the C-USA title at +330, but find themselves a slight underdog against Western Kentucky.
BYU’s 12-game independent schedule featured six against Power Five conference programs. The Cougars were 5-1 in those contests. BYU also went 5-1 against the rest to easily surpass the 6½ win total to which it was assigned.
East Carolina Pirates
East Carolina was given a 4½ win total. The Pirates dropped their first two games, won three straight and lost the next two. East Carolina continued its see-saw ride by sailing over the number with four victories in a row before losing to College Football Playoff hopeful Cincinnati.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State was -125 to win the MWC title. The Broncos were in contention until the final weekend of the regular season before losing to San Diego State. Boise State has seven victories and cannot reach the nine it was projected to win.
Buffalo was +330 and a co-favorite to win the MAC championship with an over-under of 7½ wins. The Bulls even got a bit of national love at +50000, but they never gained traction in 2021. Buffalo was 4-4 before losing its remaining four games.
Florida International Panthers
Florida International’s modest win over-under was 4½. After winning their first game, the Panthers lost their final 11, cashing at -125 along the way for under players.