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Department of Engineering

Full Blue Racing Team at the Formula Student competition

Full Blue Racing Team at the Formula Student competition

The Full Blue Racing Team at Silverstone

Full Blue Racing Team Leader Fraser McKay, summarises the highs and the lows of the Formula Student competition earlier this year. 

Even with the disappointment of not getting on track, the team has thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, learned a huge amount and are ready and raring to keep going, with plans and design for the FBR19 to compete at Silverstone next year already under way.

Full Blue Racing team leader Fraser McKay

Silverstone UK, an historic racing track, and the venue for one of the craziest, friendliest and most innovative annual motor racing events, Formula Student. The University of Cambridge Full Blue Racing (FBR) team is made up of around 50 students from all years, mainly from the Department of Engineering. Each year we design and build a single seater racing car to be entered into an International Formula Student competition, where the team compete against universities from around the world. Team members worked hard for nearly two years on the FBR18 racing car, and were all keen finally to put it down on its wheels and take it to the track.

As exams and May Week drew to a close, and most students returned home for the summer, a small core of FBR members remained in the Department's Dyson Centre for Engineering Design, and the Oatley Garages. The FBR18 design ethos was simplicity, with a tightly-packaged steel spaceframe, screaming 600cc motorbike engine and simple bodywork. Almost every part of the car is designed by the students in the team, and almost every part is manufactured in-house.

With late nights and early mornings a norm for the build-team members, the more advanced parts of the car took shape. A glassfibre-coated, 3D-printed inlet allowed for amazing freedom of form, whilst fixing the strength issues the team has encountered in the past. 3D printing was also vital in the construction of our custom steering wheel, with built-in dashboard and data-logging.

As the deadline of the UK competition, the only one FBR is participating in this year, drew closer, more and more milestones were met. The Yamaha R6 engine, something of an heirloom of the team, was heard roaring through its all-new exhaust and inlet system, driven by bespoke electronics. The car sat on its wheels for the first time, and rolled around on precision-machined suspension uprights, sprung by bespoke coilover shock absorbers. Hand laid-up glassfibre and sheet aluminium bodywork brought spirits to a new high, and the car was packed, like an odd game of Tetris, into a VW Transporter van for the journey to Silverstone.

The work, sadly, didn't end there. The team was grilled on the design, business plan and costing in the static events. The hard work put in over the two previous years paid off, with results of 30th, 46th and 30th respectively out of over 80 universities.

In amongst these was the ever-difficult scrutineering to check that competing vehicles comply with the relevant technical regulations, which help to ensure safety and fair play. Formula Student has very stringent rules and regulations, and no car is allowed to compete without this rigorous inspection process, which makes sure every single rule is followed. FBR was sadly held up by a few niggling issues in technical scrutineering, such as a leaking sump and seatbelt mount positions. Despite having no drastic problems, this meant it was impossible for the FBR18 car to make it through to the tilt, noise and brakes tests until Saturday, when the dynamic (racing) events began.

Come Saturday morning, the FBR18 car flew through technical, chassis and safety scrutineering, before heading over to the tilt table, where the car is tilted to 45 degrees, simulating a 1G cornering load, and checked for leaks. With concerns over the sump, the team was relieved, and overjoyed, to pass first time.

Next step was the noise test, where the engine is run at idle and over 10,000 RPM, to check that it doesn't breach the maximum noise limit. This should have been an easy pass for FBR, though sadly issues with some chafed fuel pump wiring lost valuable hours. With these fixed, and the noise test passed, it was time for the FBR18 car to take its first tentative steps: the brakes test.

The brakes test is the first time any car actually drives at a Formula Student competition. It has to accelerate up to speed, and then lock all four wheels under braking power, to prove the system is effective. Technical director Oli Albert fired up the engine, and drove the car out for its first baby steps. Although locking one wheel immediately, a promising sign that only bias adjustments would be needed to pass, further issues with differential mounting and chain tension halted proceedings, with the team retiring to the pits for the evening to fix the issues, for a final attempt on Sunday.

Bleary-eyed, the team rose on Sunday and rolled over to the brakes test area. Despite high hopes, and being able to lock two wheels, the best efforts of Oli Albert and Stuart Naylor couldn't quite push the team through, when chain tension issues re-appeared, along with struggles with the driveability of the engine, and finally put paid to the chances of passing scrutineering.

Even with the disappointment of not getting on track, the team has thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, learned a huge amount and are ready and raring to keep going, with plans and design for the FBR19 car to compete at Silverstone next year already under way.

Established in 2006, FBR has successfully competed on the circuits of Silverstone, Hockenheim and Barcelona, where we were ranked as best British Team in 2016.

We are always looking to strengthen our team and are currently recruiting new members to help us build the FBR19 and develop our first electric car. We passionately believe in the benefits the project has at both degree and career level. We encourage students from across the University, as well as businesses and media to get involved. getmore@fullblueracing.co.uk

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