Founded in 1977 by Sir Frank Williams, Williams is one of the most successful teams in the history of Formula One, having tallied 114 grand prix wins and nine Constructors’ Championships over the last four decades. The world-class innovation derived from designing, constructing, and competing at the highest echelons of motorsport are commercialized by Williams Advanced Engineering for clients in industries including automotive, aerospace, defense, sports science, and energy.

Maintaining a Competitive Edge

Williams Martini Racing is one of the remaining independent teams that takes on its competitors by being more agile and innovative to maintain its competitive advantage. “But the 21 people you see in the pitstop is the tip of the iceberg for the business,” said Graeme Hackland, Williams IT Director. With around 600 people working on the car and another 150 involved in the Williams Advanced Engineering business, Williams knew they had to be more aggressive in their technology strategy to return to the front of the grid.

“The risk challenges facing our IT department are varied and complex, and our two business areas have very different technology needs and risk exposure,” Hackland said. “With that in mind, we worked with Symantec Consulting to assess risk and weaknesses to both our infrastructure and data across IT security, performance, availability, and compliance,” he added.

Through its partnership with Symantec, Williams embraced a new portfolio of technologies and services to eradicate threat vulnerabilities; to create robust, intelligent, and secure workflows; to enable more innovative, more reliable, and faster work practices without risk; and to robustly protect the group’s high-value data and intellectual property (IP).

Data Protection Is Lifeblood

Formula One has thrived on collecting and analyzing data for more than 35 years. A race weekend generates more than 140 GB in car, telemetry, video, and other analytics, all focused on how to make the car quicker. The challenge is keeping race data confidential and 100 percent available while protecting the engineering process and enabling rapid decision-making. For Williams Advanced Engineering, intellectual property is the lifeblood of the business. Any loss would be critical. “We work on such sensitive projects. Protection of customer data and IP is crucial. In fact, we often must demonstrate to customers that specific security requirements have been met in order to win their business,” Hackland explained. And because each part of the business has very different challenges, it was important for Hackland to find a partner that could deliver in both areas.


“In Formula One,” said Hackland, “we’re always thinking about speed―speed of the car and the speed of operations. Helping the team incorporate concepts into the car using new technology and process improvement is part of that.”

Moving to a digital workflow means speedier processes. For example, the race tire engineer now uses a tablet to record pressure and temperature at the track. It means the engineers can immediately see which tires are optimum, so it speeds things up, but it also increases the risk vector because that confidential information is available to anyone who can access that tablet. “As we transform ourselves, IT risk changes, and we work with Symantec to eradicate risk at the endpoint, data center, or the web services we use,” Hackland pointed out.

“Any endpoint security technology must have low overhead on all machines because nothing can slow things down trackside,” Hackland noted. “A longer boot-up process causes real problems in a Formula One context. You walk to the grid to download some information because you noticed an alert as the car is racing around the course. If you get a blue screen, no one will wait until you’re ready—the race goes on. It is critical the agents have little or no impact on the endpoints. That is one of the benefits we get with Symantec,” explained Hackland.

“After implementing the new Symantec technology, we went to the first race in 2016 with our data and devices protected. We had the latest, up-to-date security patches, an audit tool, protection, and encryption on every device. That gave us a lot of confidence,” said Hackland. Control “When I think about control from an IT perspective, it’s about giving it up,” Hackland maintained. “Too much control limits innovation, and we have to enable a dynamic, constantly changing business. If we restrict people, they won’t be able to innovate and compete, so the key is to provide freedom without adding business risk.”

In considering its risk posture, the Williams IT team realized the 1,200 endpoints of a very mobile workforce needed more flexibility, yet more protection. “Our workforce regularly works offsite all over the world, and as part of our digital transformation strategy, we put in processes, systems, and technology that allow our engineers to work wherever they are,” Hackland shared. 

“We tried out a fair number of technologies, but in my opinion, what gave Symantec the competitive edge is that it’s really good in a wide range of areas. It’s not enough to have just antivirus or intrusion prevention or even machine learning. The multi-tiered protection of essential and next-gen technologies provided by Symantec Endpoint Protection is brilliant for us,” he noted. “Symantec Endpoint Protection proactively detects the latest threats, including Cryptolocker ransomware, and it includes reputation analysis and behavior monitoring in addition to application control and intrusion prevention technology, which in turn helps us safeguard the devices containing Williams IP or live race telemetry data at the track.” 

According to Hackland, “because about 60 percent of our staff regularly work offsite, encryption allows them to confidently download data to a local device. Symantec Endpoint Protection protects the data and supports strong authentication. With our Symantec solution in place, Williams Advanced Engineering customers can now be assured that their data is protected should a device be stolen or go missing―and the Formula One team knows that no matter where they are, whatever Wi-Fi they connect to, endpoints are secure.”


As an independent team, Williams Martini Racing aims to punch above its weight—on and off the track. In terms of data security, this requires precise and effective management of its data and estate.

Williams Martini Racing implemented different policies for different endpoints enforced from the central console, and alerts are received if a device hasn’t been seen for a while. Specific machines with a known problem can be targeted remotely. “Symantec Endpoint Protection is detecting behaviors and malware we would have missed in the past, and we’re blocking around 600 pieces of malware per month,” Hackland said.

The Williams Martini Racing team takes its data center—two racks of hardware to 21 countries every year—in the back of a plane or truck, and when it arrives in the pitlane 100 percent uptime is required. “Symantec Data Center Security: Server Advanced is a key member of our team when it comes to ensuring uptime at the track,” Hackland explained. “Uptime is critical to us when it comes to competing, and we plan to roll it out across the entire enterprise.”

Unsurprisingly, Williams Martini Racing is keen to realize the benefits of the cloud—less equipment trackside and elastic capability back at the factory. But it is a big change culturally in terms of risk. The threat landscape today means that any website can be compromised with perfectly acceptable internet activity, resulting in malware. Symantec Web provides robust protection from web-borne malware and spyware threats, scanning requests in real time. “Individual policies can be applied to internet activity, and SmartConnect Client applies the policies no matter where people are, protecting our infrastructure and data that we keep trackside,” Hackland added.


“One of the major advantages of the partnership with Symantec,” said Hackland, “is access to knowledge of the ever-changing threat landscape. If you stop thinking about threats, you’re going to be hit by something. The Symantec Global Intelligence Network (GIN) is a huge benefit to Williams Martini Racing. We travel globally, and GIN identifies threats globally and shares that information with Symantec Endpoint Protection for up-to-date endpoint protection.” Additionally, Symantec Consultancy is important in helping Williams benefit from new technology and work methods, without exposing further risk, and Symantec Business Critical Services provides ongoing support. “It gives us a much higher level of support for services, which is critical to competing in Formula One,” noted Hackland.

“A partnership means that success is linked,” Hackland explained, adding that the two companies will work together over the coming years. “We’re already scoping out identity access management and how we can better prove to our customers and ourselves that someone accessing a process, system, or piece of data is actually who they say they are.” For now, Hackland is confident. “We’re protecting endpoints, the data center, legacy systems, and what we have in the cloud. Symantec is absolutely helping get Williams Martini Racing to the front of that grid.”