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Formula 1 Race Car Shut Down by Computer Virus

The last two decades in the car world have been dominated by cramming more and more technology into your car. At first it was crucial elements like ABS and more advanced airbags, but now it has become as superfluous as being able to tweet from your nav screen. This new technology is all in the name of making cars faster — but does this added tech have a dark downside?

While conducting preseason testing at the Barhrain International Circuit, the principal car for the Marussia F1 managed only three laps of testing before having to take to the pits. The problem? A member of the team accidentally downloaded a “trojan-like virus” onto the car’s computer systems.

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Formula 1 Race Car Shut Down by Computer Virus

As Wired points out, an F1 car is just a large computer with an engine and four wheels. Back in the day race teams would make tweaks based on experience and hunches. The modern Formula 1 car is a massive data recorder, pulling in reams of data. That is, until someone opens an email from a “Nigerian Prince” when they should be recalibrating the Multimatic dampers.

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The issue was eventually resolved, but the team completed only 29 laps over the course of the four-day test session. Formula 1 has several major new changes for the 2014 season, including a new engine formula, updated hybrid systems and aerodynamic changes– so every moment with the new car prior to the upcoming season is absolutely precious.


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We’ll see how much this digital hiccup hampers the Marussia F1 team when they join the rest of the field on March 16 for the Australian Grand Prix. In the meantime, there is one more four-day testing session in Barhrain. Let’s hope this time, the team packs Norton Antivirus with the tires and motor oil.