A team of American students has won the first F1 in Schools World Finals, staged in Singapore ahead of this weekend's grand prix there. "Unitus Racing," a team from James Madison Middle School in Virginia and Southeast High School of Florida, took the title after three days of intense competition. Their victory brought with it Automotive and Motorsport Engineering scholarships to City University, London, LG LED screens and the coveted Bernie Ecclestone World Champions trophy.
Ecclestone commissioned the champions' trophy for the initiative, and F1's commercial rights manager was on hand for the World Finals. He was given a tour of some of the team's pit displays by Andrew Denford, founder and chairman of F1 in Schools, before taking on the organization's boss in a head-to-head race (LEFT) on the specially designed track used by the students as part of the competition. Ecclestone beat Denford with the faster reaction time to win the race.
“It is super, super for the kids – it's really great and it gets them interested in Formula 1,” Ecclestone said of the initiative. “A lot of adults as well are asking what this [F1 in Schools] is all about.” He was also supportive of the initiative's focus on engineering, saying, “It's magic. These guys will go somewhere, for sure.”
To F1, perhaps? “Yes, for sure, absolutely,” he declared. “They get exposure, people know them and they will get a good position.”
F1 in Schools is the only global multi-disciplinary challenge for students aged 9 to 19. Based in London and supported by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, funds are raised through sponsorship and invested in administering, developing and expanding the challenge. The competition inspires students to use IT to learn about physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacturing, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership, teamwork, media skills and financial strategy, and apply them in a practical, imaginative and exciting way.
The program challenges students to use software to design, build and race a miniature Formula 1 car made from balsa wood and powered by a single compressed air cylinder. Participating teams all receive a starter kit that includes all basic materials, including a block of balsa wood from which their car will be fabricated. They write a business plan, prepare a budget and raise sponsorship through cooperation with the business community. Using Computer Aided Design technology, the teams design an F1 car before analyzing its efficiency in a virtual reality wind tunnel. The cars are then fabricated with the use of Computer Aided Manufacture software before being tested in wind and smoke tunnels. The final part of the challenge is the race, with teams competing along a special 66ft straight track. The current record is just 1.02sec!
Each school finds its own winning team and they then move to regional, national and international competition at the F1 in Schools World Finals.
The 2010 F1 in Schools World Finals are supported by LG and hosted by Ngee Ann Polytechnic.