If you want to be successful in motorsports, you need a strong team because the group’s combined performance will ultimately decide whether you win or lose in a competition.
For Formula Student, we left the university auditorium to spend a year in a racing team workshop where we work together with our teammates in order to win trophies. Formula what?
The Formula Student competition
Formula Student is an international engineering competition for university students. This engineering competition currently encompasses a total of ten international events that are officially recognized by Formula SAE: Formula SAE Michigan/Lincoln USA, Formula SAE Australasia, Formula SAE Brazil, Formula SAE Italy, Formula Student UK, Formula Student Austria, Formula Student Germany, Formula Student East, Formula Student Hungary, and Formula Student Japan. Unofficial events include: Formula Student Russia, Formula Student Mexico, and many others.
The objective: Each team designs a single-seat Formula racing vehicle and constructs a road-ready prototype, which it also drives in competitions, of course. There are more than 600 of these racing teams worldwide. They compete with one another in one or more of the ten Formula Student contests. What makes this competition especially appealing for us motorsports fans is that the individual events take place at the well-known F1 racetracks throughout the world.
Formula Student encompasses three classes of vehicles: Vehicles with combustion engines (CV), vehicles with electric motors (EV), and self-driving vehicles, most of which have electric drive systems (DV). The first step, which takes about nine months, is to design and develop the vehicle’s technology.
The teams also have to draw up a design, cost, and manufacturing report and develop a feasible business plan for the small-batch production of the vehicle they designed. The teams then present their concepts to a panel of experts from motorsports and the automotive and supplier industries. They try to do this as convincingly as possible, of course, because they are competing with one another.
For the dynamic disciplines, the vehicles also have to show off their capabilities on the racetrack, where they can only be driven by the people who developed them. A team can score up to 1,000 points in the competition. The team that has scored the most points at the end of a season leads the global ranking of the Formula Student Championship.
The Stuttgart University Racing Team
We, the Stuttgart University Racing Team, are currently the world leader in the combustion engine vehicle category. We are a student organization and a Formula Student racing team of the University of Stuttgart. Since its founding in 2005, our team has lead the global rankings in the Formula Student Combustion competition seven times.
The team consists of five sub-teams and a three-member management body. Each team member has a specific function on the team for one year so that he or she can learn the interdisciplinary working methods that are typically used in the industry.
In the current season, a total of 45 students with a variety of majors (mechanical engineering, vehicle and motor technology, aerospace, technical cybernetics, technology management, technical business administration, economics) are involved in the project. All of us were jointly responsible for conceiving, designing, and constructing the team’s thirteenth racing vehicle: the F0711-13.
In the weeks ahead, our racecar will vie against other vehicles from all over the world in the competitions in Germany (August 6–12, 2018) and Spain (August 21–26, 2018). We hope that our vehicle will be able to build on the successes of past years. We should also mention that the F0711-13 took first place in the Formula Student East 2018 competition. The results from Austria were in on Thursday evening.
Mercedes-Benz sponsors and promotes up-and-coming engineers
However, our success is not only due to our own efforts, but to a great extent also to the support we get from our partners. The project is supported by many renowned businesses and research institutes. It is them who enable our team to design and create the best racecar with a combustion engine for the Formula Student competition.
Mercedes-Benz has been supporting the Stuttgart University Racing Team from the very start, thus enabling future engineers to gather initial experience in motorsports while they are still students. In addition to providing financial support, Daimler AG holds an event called Racetrack@Daimler right before the competition’s European season is about the begin. During this two-day event in Kirchheim Teck, the teams can rehearse the procedures of a Formula Student competition and prepare themselves for any eventuality by practicing the various disciplines in front of a panel of judges.
Naturally, this event also offers the teams the perfect opportunity to show off their latest racecars to the competitors. Because the teams have to impress the judges of each competition not only with their racecar, but also with an innovative business concept for the marketing of the racing vehicle, they have to develop a feasible new business plan each year.
Mercedes-Benz also helps us in this respect, because we can present our latest business plan to Mercedes-Benz experts at an early stage of its development. This helps to prevent mistakes later on. Besides giving us constructive feedback about our idea and concept, the experts provide us with additional useful tips for our upcoming on-stage presentation, for example.
As a team that is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz we also benefit from discussions with the respective specialist departments of the company. For example, we were able to present the chassis that we developed for our F0711-12 racecar to over 40 experts from Daimler AG, who gave us many valuable practical tips.
Several employees of Daimler AG, some of whom are former Formula Student participants themselves, support Formula Student events in Germany, Austria, and Spain every year by serving as judges and organizers. The direct contact with the company has enabled many team members to receive interesting opportunities for work-study programs, internships, and theses.
If you would like to experience a Formula Student competition first-hand, come visit us at the Formula Student Germany (FSG) competition, which will be taking place this year at the Hockenheimring from August 6–12. Visitors can expect to see lots of motorsports action on the weekend (August 11–12), when more than 100 teams will compete against each other in the dynamic disciplines.
To conclude, we’d like to thank you for the many years of support you have given us. We look forward to many more years of our successful partnership!