Leeds student race team put to the test at Silverstone

After almost 12 months of planning, designing and building, undergraduate students from the School of Mechanical Engineering took part in Formula Student 2014 at Silverstone Race Circuit last month.

16 fourth year MEng students made up the Leeds Formula Student Race team, which is selected each year in September. The team was tasked with producing a prototype for a single-seat race car and presenting it to a hypothetical manufacturing firm. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable, with high performance in terms of its acceleration, braking, and handling qualities. Each team then went through several days of testing, including ‘static’ and ‘dynamic’ test events.

This year the Leeds team competed consistently in the top half of the field of more than 100 teams all weekend. The teams’ best result in an individual event was in the cost report where they placed 10th and team leader, Steve Paine, was also nominated for the "Craig Dawson Most Valuable Team Member Award" where he finished a very close second place.

Formula Student (FS) is Europe's most established educational motorsport competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Backed by industry and high profile engineers such as our Patron Ross Brawn OBE, the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. Leeds Formula Race Team is one of the oldest competing UK University's in the competition.

Planning and preparation for this year’s competition began as long ago as September, when the team decided on the overall design direction and ethos for the prototype race car. For F15, this year’s competition entry, the main aim was to design and manufacture a cost effective, positively handling and aesthetically pleasing single seater race car.

Formula Student 2014 Formula Student 2014
Work on the car began in September 2013 in the Formula Student Compound, School of Mechanical Engineering

It turned out to be a fantastic year for the team through the dedication of its members not just on the car, but on sponsorship opportunities as well. The car was completed by Easter, allowing for a thorough testing schedule both on the rolling road and test track before competition. This highlighted issues with engine and car setup that were identified and then fixed. Working on these issues also allowed the team to work closely with the following key companies:
-Millbrook proving ground - impact attenuator/safety testing
-Knaresborough Rolling Road - engine tuning
-Breighton Airfield - track testing

Once they arrived at Silverstone, they had several days of tests. The first two days of the competition feature what are known as the "Static" events. This includes a cost report, business presentation, design presentation as well as presenting the car for technical inspection at scrutineering. Scrutineering went very well for the team who came away with only 3 minor problems to fix in the technical inspection. After this the car was then checked for rule compliance, before heading over to the tilt test where the car is tilted up to 60 degrees of inclination to check for both leaks and mechanical soundness of the car. After this came the noise test, which was passed with flying colours thanks to the extensive work undertaken in a 3rd year project into the optimal design of the exhaust.

Saturday and Sunday were the "Dynamic" event days - which include skid pan, acceleration, sprint and endurance events. The team performed very well in the sprint event and were in a fantastic position in the endurance event too until a mechanical issue caused them a few problems and moved the team down the field.

Formula Student 2014 Formula Student 2014
The team are put through their paces during the 'dynamic' stage of testing at Silverstone

The team worked together incredibly well at competition with a number of people spending long days and late nights in order to improve the car as much as possible. The team received a great deal of support from faculty staff, family and friends at Silverstone and it was great for them to finally be able to show everyone what they had spent so much time designing and making since September.

The Leeds Formula Race Team 2014
16 fourth Year students were broken down into 4 teams, each member oversees the design and manufacture of a critical car component.

Chassis and Suspension: Steve Paine, Aaron Shaw, Will Haynes, Ben Cross
Engine: Adam Yates-Dutton, Hugo Cohn, Tarass Gorevoi, David Moore
Driveline and Brakes: Rob Shepherd, Calum Mathen, Stephen Marsh, Mike Jamieson
Data Acquisition (DAQ): Ian Waters, Lewis Battersby, Ian Mbote, Andrei Dumitru

The team is also complimented by a number of third year students who were actively involved: 
Scott Walker, Tom Allchurch, Graeme Ellis, Patrick Meenan, Dan Mackenzie, Alex Hodgkinson.