Leeds Formula Student Team Race For Success At Silverstone

After nine months of planning and preparation, The Leeds Formula Student Race Team took part in the 2015 IMechE Formula Student Competition at Silverstone earlier this month.

Made up of undergraduate students from the School of Mechanical Engineering, the team designed and built their F16 car, which finished 48th out of more than 100 universities worldwide.

Formula Student (FS) is Europe's most established educational motorsport competition, challenging the innovation of students internationally. High profile engineers back the competition as development of young people headed into industry and competition Patron Ross Brawn OBE was on hand to welcome teams at the launch of competition on arrival. 

Spearheaded by team leader and Formula Student Veteran Scott Walker, this years team comprised of 18 undergraduate students aimed at building another single seater prototype vehicle. The team had vast freedom in the interpretation of the rules to create a race ready car, whilst using the knowledge obtained over time to present the vehicle as a viable business, demonstrating the cost and manufacturing processes used in the process.

The design concept of this years F16 car started in July 2014 with the feedback presented from the previous team. Problematic areas in the engine and suspension were addressed along with the incorporation of a full aerodynamic package, a first for Leeds. This resulted in the team improving on the design result of last year, finishing in a fantastic 34th.

Along with a new design and new team, 2015 was a year that witnessed the arrival of two key new sponsors for the team; MAHLE Powertrains and Lambert Engineering. Based in Northampton, MAHLE were able to provide extensive testing facilities for use on the engine, culminating in over 12 hours of dynamometer running before completion of the chassis. Lambert were instrumental along with the Faculty workshop for the manufacture of key components including wheel hubs, uprights and driveshaft. The help of these sponsors allowed four separate tests to be completed in the month prior to competition, at Breighton airfield and MIRA.

The first two days of competition at Silverstone featured scrutineering and the "Static" business and cost events. Having taking the initiative to complete the competition pre-scrutineering form prior, the team was one of the first teams in the queue, saving valuable time that would otherwise be spent waiting. By 4pm on the first day the team had achieved 3 of the 6 stickers required to pass scrutineering.

Day two was arguably the longest day the team endured. A cracked fuel tank discovered in the morning, coupled with a leaking fuel filler hose lead to the day spent filling and draining the tank. Despite the unorthodox methods applied, scruitneering was completely passed by day three, allowing the dynamic events to begin. 

"Dynamic" events include the skid pan, acceleration, sprint and endurance events over the Saturday and Sunday of competition. The F16 was put through its paces, finishing in the top 40 vehicles of Skid Pad, Acceleration and Sprint. However, heartbreak on occured on Sunday, when a faulty fuel system caused the car to suffer a mechanical failure without completing one lap of the endurance challenge, the most valuable event in terms of points.

Leeds Formula Student Team competing at Silverstone

The points that the team had accumulated in the other events meant that they were still able to finish in a very respectable 48th, but without the bad luck in the endurance event, they may well have finished much higher in the table.

Leeds Formula Student team member Dominic Cotton said "It was disappointing for us not to complete the endurance event, but we should be proud to have completed our year aim of starting all events. The hard work and planning resulted in a final standing of 48th, an improvement of 30 places from 2014.

"The team received a great deal of support from faculty staff, family and friends at Silverstone and it was great for us to finally be able to show everyone what we had spent so much time designing and making since September. As F16 learnt from F15 for 2015, next year's F17 team can only take on board the foundations laid by a fantastically committed group of students."

The Leeds Formula Race Team 2015
18 Fourth Year undergraduate students were broken down into 3 teams, each member oversees the design and manufacture of a critical car component.

Chassis and Suspension: Scott Walker, Hagar Niblett, John Mandroukas, Haider Zaidi, Dominic Smith, Georgie Simms
Engine: Tom Allchurch, Mike Scott, Alex Koltsidopoulos Papatzimos, Patrick Meenan, Graeme Ellis
Driveline and Brakes: Dominic Cotton, Sotirios Tsioumas, Chris Dart, Matt Harris, Annas Abu-Hassan, Sarosh Rehman