New world race car champions were crowned in Austin this week and it was decided miles away from the Circuit of the Americas at the Hyatt Regency on Lady Bird Lake.
High school-aged kids from 23 countries came to Austin this week to compete in the F1 In Schools World Finals. The teens fabricated and engineered their miniature Formula One cars from scratch. Many of the students peering down the track to the finish are hoping this is just the beginning of their racing career.
“So, what we are is the biggest STEM competition in the world,” said Andrew Denford, founder and chairman of F1 in Schools. “What we’ve done is created a challenge bringing all of those disciplines together, using the magnetic appeal of Formula One. So, basically we install this in the classroom and they can teach science, maths [sic] and technology and engineering in a fun and exciting way.”
He says this is a way to encourage the next generation of engineers and scientists. Just like Formula One, students work to make their car within a new set of specifications and rules released each year. And it’s not just the fastest car that wins.
“There’s a thousand points. The fastest car is 250,” said Denford. “It helps if you have a fast car because that will probably mean it has passed scrutineering. It will probably mean it has been well-engineered, it’s got good aerodynamics. But of course, they judge you on pit display, portfolios and they judge you on the verbal presentation. So, it’s quite a big job.”