Formula Student is Europe's most established educational motorsport competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. It challenges university students from around the world to design and build a single-seat racing car, which is then put to the test at the famous Silverstone Circuit. Formula Student is a testing ground for the next generation of world-class engineers. Backed by industry and high profile engineers the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. Its key aims are to inspire the next generation and address the skills shortage in engineering. The way Formula Student achieves this is by providing crucial practical experience and transferable skills for use in a diverse range of industries.
Full Blue Racing (FBR) the University of Cambridge Formula Student team has completed a successful 2011 campaign competing in both the UK and German Formula Student competitions. The team bounced back after a tough 2010 where a disappointing result followed severe funding difficulties and the loss of the majority of the "old guard" to graduation at the end of 2009. Keen not to have a repeat, and bolstered with a team of nearly forty, the team knuckled down, setting aggressive deadlines and an ambitious programme of car redesign. The team managed to reduce both the car's weight by nearly 30kg and finish early enough for testing, for the first time in our history. The team also won a monetary award from The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, after a very competitive applications procedure.
All of this was done on an engineering budget of around £3.5K, certainly one of the smallest in the paddock. Some of our competitors have budgets running into the hundreds of thousands of Euros. The only way the team manages to complete a car at all is by hard work convincing sponsors and local companies to partner the team with cash and materials. The number of sponsoring companies more than doubled in size this year to 29. The absolutely invaluable assistance of the Department's workshop team is also essential to our success. The opportunity given to us by David Gould of Gould Racing to spend a week in his factory in Newbury fabricating our own Carbon fibre pieces was an amazing help, and a great learning experience for the second year running.
One of the highlights from the UK competition, held in Silverstone, was the team's performance in the "Business event". Here the team prepared a 25 page business plan and performed a presentation persuading a group of investors to invest in FBR as a "startup Autocross manufacturer looking to go to market with a prototype". The thoroughness of the presentation was commended. The team secured a record 18th position, out of nearly 100 universities.
In the Formula Student German competition at Hockenheim, the team had further success topping the table with an outstanding "real case" presentation scoring 37/40. The team had to calculate ways of "reducing the car's manufactured cost by 20%". The knowledge of manufacturing and design compromises were scrutinized in this event, and the ingenuity in driving down costs whilst maintaining quality of product was commended.
The big news however, was the success of the team dynamically. After a tricky few days in the run up to the sprint, including a last minute downpour as the team was lining up to race, the Car successfully finished the sprint in a respectable 91.339 seconds. Because of the unfortunate timing of the weather, sadly this time did not catapult the team to the top of the standings, but the team were ecstatic nonetheless.
After as much time as possible spent on the test track in the intervening day the team entered the endurance competition full of hope. After a few gruelling laps, sadly the car failed due to a bolt shearing in the sprocket assembly. The team could hold their heads high though as only one third of the cars completed endurance, and out of the eight British teams only one made it to the end of the event. With a solid car for development for 2012, a large carry over in personnel and a much more secure financial situation, the team, more than ever is eager for the new season and design is already well into development. The team would like to thank all those who sponsored and supported the team over the year.
Special mentions go to Platinum sponsor Johnson Matthey, and Gold sponsor Accenture. The Student Led Projects and Industry Partnership (SPIP) has been an enormous help, many thanks go to the companies involved; BP, Boeing, Jaguar Land Rover and National Instruments. Details about the SPIP can be found online here.