Could you build a racing car in a year? This is how you learn
Whereas the path to the pinnacle of motor sport for drivers may be clear – even if difficult and eye-wateringly expensive – the route for engineers is less transparent. But there is a programme that puts young engineers on the right road: Formula Student.
When most university undergraduates can be found down the pub, allegedly, students who join this programme, of which Ross Brawn is the patron, have a year to build a single-seater racing car with an engine no larger than 610cc. Once completed, they head to Silverstone to be judged by a panel of experts on various aspects of the car. Even though this course has been run in the UK since 1998, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s only for British students: more than 20 countries are involved, as are more than 2000 students.
As part of the competition for 2010, there was an open day at the end of October where students got a head start by speaking to specialists including Grant Tuff, a vehicle dynamics engineer at Williams F1 and also one of the judges.
“The guys who do Formula Student have to think about a lot more than just the design of things,” he says. “They are trying to make a whole car, which is almost the easy part, but also project manage the whole thing. A lot of companies in motor sport look favourably on Formula Student because of this type of experience. I really do find it quite inspiring.”
This year’s judging is provisionally booked in for July 15-18, so expect more on ‘the other way into F1’ nearer the time.