F1 in Schools, the engineering challenge for school age children, has gained an important new patron in the form of McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
He joins Ross Brawn, Mike Gascoyne, Sam Michael, Adrian Newey, Pat Symonds and other figures from the sport who have agreed to be patrons. F1 in Schools is a not-for profit organisation, which runs an annual challenge in over 30 countries with a world final every year. Last year it was in Singapore, the year before that in the UK. I have been a patron since the challenge started almost a decade ago and also host the world finals presentation each year.
Whitmarsh’s involvement follows on from Lewis Hamilton’s appearance at the 2009 finals in London and it is the first time a representative of McLaren has engaged with the challenge as a patron. The children have to design, build and race CO2-powered miniature racing cars out of balsa wood using CAD/CAM ( computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies.) They also have to find sponsorship and give presentations to the judges. At last year’s world finals the senior judge was ex Jordan technical director Gary Anderson. The winning team came from the USA.
Whitmarsh said, “This educational initiative is a great way to encourage students to study key subjects within the curriculum, while also introducing new fans to Formula 1. We are always considering the long-term future of our sport and with initiatives such as F1 in Schools, we are assured that there will be plenty of bright, young talent looking to enter the industry,” said Martin.
“We met a number of the students after the 2009 World Finals in London, when the winning team was given a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre. The students’ knowledge of the sport and their depth of engineering understanding were very impressive, so we know that F1 in Schools is playing an important role in preparing students for further education and, ultimately, careers in industry. I am sure we will see F1 in Schools ‘alumni’ in Formula 1, and possibly Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, in the not too distant future.”
Bernie Ecclestone has backed F1 in Schools for several years now, giving the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy to the world champions each year. He realises the appeal of the challenge is to take F1 into the classroom, attracting a whole new audience to the sport in the key demographic of under 18s, which are otherwise hard to reach.