Axis Precision Engineering Ltd. manufactured wishbones for the UCL Racing team car for this year’s Formula Student (2016). The parts were completed in time for the competition at Silverstone and fitted perfectly. Naturally, we’d have it no other way.
This post goes into more detail about the Formula Student competition and explains how the UCL Racing team got on.
The build went exceptionally well. The UCL Team passed 5 of the 6 elements of scrutineering – the process which makes certain that the cars comply with the relevant technical regulations to help ensure safety and fair play.
The final element of testing examined the brakes and, while the car met the criteria, there was a problem with the drive shaft. Sadly, this meant the car was not eligible for the dynamic events so could not actually race.
Formula Student the competition
Formula Student is an Under Graduate competition to design and build a car from scratch to race at a competition held at Silverstone. The UK event is held by IMechE – the Institute of Mechanical Engineering – and provides valuable experience for fledgling engineers.
The event is run over 5 days and is comprised of three main sections:
- Static events
- Dynamic events
Each team is awarded points across the various tests in the static and dynamic sections. If your team fails to pass scrutineering the car will not be entered into the dynamic events – actual races.
Teams are marked out of 1000 points with the winners usually scoring between 800-900. The static events are worth 320 points and the dynamic events get the remaining 680 points.
This highlights video above, from GKN, gives you an idea of what some of the scrutineering tests looked like at the event. 60 degrees does seem to be quite a tilt test!
Formula Student – Static events
There are three static events, as follows:
- Design presentation
- Costing and Sustainability presentation
- Business presentation
The first two events focus on the work going into the design and build of the car. The business presentation is essentially Dragons Den for racing. The team has to pitch to imaginary investors who ask questions and provide feedback.
For a team to make the dynamic events all six scrutineering tests must be passed. These are:
It’s rigorous and many teams fail to make it. This year only 69 teams out of 130 made it to through to the dynamic events!
The safety tests are to full Motor Sport Association standards and look at everything from nuts and bolts to helmets and suits. The chassis tests fail a lot of entrants and ensure the driver fits correctly and can be removed quickly if required!
The tech tests cover all the little details like ground clearances. Most teams have failed by the end of these 3 tests. The testers are motivated to get the teams thinking, so many failures are for little niggly items that can be fixed in the pit.
UCL racing failed on 5 or 6 things but were able to pass second time.
Next the car is fueled up for the two tilt tests. The first is looking for leaks on cornering at 45 degrees tilt. The second is testing to see if the car will roll over on cornering. At 60 degrees tilt this simulates 1.5 G lateral acceleration!
Noise tests require less than 103 db at idle and 105 db at speed. The exact speed is dictated by mean piston speed and so is specific to each car. For UCL this was 8750 rpm, which was easily passed.
The brake test requires all four wheels to lock and bring the car to a comfortable stop within cones. Many teams fail this test, which is critical because it’s difficult to remedy.
UCL passed the criteria but a driveshaft problem meant the safety test sticker was removed and the end of the competition for this year.
Formula Student – Dynamic events
These events comprise 680 points and determine the overall winner. There are five events:
- Fuel economy
These events are tough on the cars with only 32 of the 69 eligible completing them all!
Acceleration is simply 75 metres in a straight line. The top teams were managing 2.7s, wheelspin is the enemy of fast times! The skidpad event tests the lateral grip of the car, how fast it can corner. It’s two circles to the left and two to the right as fast as possible with two attempts allowed for both drivers.
There’s a super final for the top 5 cars for these two events.
Fuel economy is self-explanatory. The sprint event is on a tight winding track just 3 metres wide. It has long sweeping bends, hairpins and a cone slalom in addition to the usual racing track bends. And finally, the endurance event is 22 laps of the same sprint course.
An entertaining twist to the endurance event is the driver switch at 10 laps. There’s 3 minutes to successfully swap drivers before seconds are added to a team’s overall time!
This event offers the most points (300), so winning can really help a team do extremely well in the competition. Obviously, this is a solid test of the build. James said that problems often occur, usually overheating and at least one car ends up on fire!
Thankfully, the marshals at Silverstone are on the ball. They remove the driver from a burning car very quickly so no-one gets hurt. It’s a reminder that, while I’m sure every team is desperate to race, safety is paramount.
The endurance race breaks a lot of cars, so many end up with DNF in the results column rather than points. It’s tough!
Formula Student results
Formula Student is a long haul over five days but, obviously the hard work is back at the University. The overall winner was Rennteam from the University of Stuttgart IC, so huge congratulations to them. Full 2016 results for all events can be found on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers website, for the interested reader!
UCL Racing finished in 81st place, if only the driveshaft problem hadn’t materialised…
Thankfully for Axis the wishbones fitted perfectly and held up to the pressures exerted on them. We’re pleased to say James and the team were delighted with our efforts.
I got in touch with Alan from Axis, he was very, very helpful. Axis got the parts completed in time, to the spec we wanted. Everything fitted as they should. The wishbones held up despite all the abuse we gave them…
James Dixon, UCL Racing
Axis and Motor Sport components
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