The F1 in Schools programme, of which I am a patron along with many of the leading technical directors in F1, is all set to host its World Finals next week in Singapore.
The competition, which is also backed by F1 sponsor LG Electronics, is open to children from nine to school leaving age. Teams of students have to design a model car from a block of balsa wood, which is fired down a 20 metre track using gas canisters in the back. It is an exercise in research, CAD/CAM design, manufacturing, aerodynamic testing and racing.
It is a junior version of F1 from the engineering point of view and this is why it has been such a hit with the likes of Adrian Newey, Ross Brawn and Mike Gascoyne, all of whom are very engaged in the programme. The idea is to attract children to the idea of a career in engineering.
This year the chair of Judges is former Jordan and Jaguar technical director Gary Anderson,
“I’m keen to have a hands-on role in this F1 in Schools World Finals and to see for myself the quality of work which these students are producing and the efforts that they are all putting into designing and building their own miniature race cars,” said Anderson. “I’m sure that it will be no different to the real world of Formula One, with teams looking closely at the interpretation of the rules to find any competitive advantage. We just need to make sure they stay within the boundaries that are set!”
This year’s competition features 26 teams from 18 countries, all competing from the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy and a scholarship to study engineering at City University, London. I’ll be hosting the presentation next Wednesday night in Singapore. Last year a team from Northern Ireland were crowned champions and received the trophy from then world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The appeal to F1 and to Ecclestone in particular is that it exposes F1 as a concept to over 5 million children worldwide. F1 struggles to reach the younger generations in any other way.