It was a successful summer-break for Queen’s University Belfast’s Formula Student team as it achieved seventh overall in July’s Formula Student UK competition.

Held at Silverstone in England, home of the British Grand Prix, Formula Student brings together the top engineering talent from across the world. Queen’s Formula Racing beat stiff competition to finish seventh overall, its best result to-date, winning two categories in the process.

It was an experience to remember for the 25 students as they witnessed the car they designed, manufactured and assembled take victory in both the Acceleration and Most Efficient Internal Combustion Engine categories.

The success was made all the sweeter as the team suffered multiple setbacks ahead of travelling across the Irish Sea to compete in the annual event. A delay in manufacturing resulted in the car only being completed four days before shipping to Silverstone and on its pre-event test, the car’s front wishbone failed under heavy braking. A rush back to the QUB workshop and a quick fix was all the team could manage before going to the competition.

The whole experience was described as nothing short of a miracle by this year’s Team Leader, Gavin White. He was part of the 2017 team’s Chassis Team and has taken the reins of the ‘18 effort while he studies for his final year exams. Along with his team-lead responsibilities, White will investigate Electric Motor Design for future Formula Student programmes.

Formula Student brings together the top Universities from around the world in a battle between the self-engineered single-seaters.

“In our garage, there was a team from Leeds, two teams from India and a team from London,” said White. “Elsewhere there were teams competing from Brazil and North America.”

“There was serious equipment ahead of us, teams like Birmingham, Bath and Hertfordshire who were all running full aerodynamic kits. F1 style aero, full carbon fibre monocoques and some even ran rear carbon fibre chassis.

“These are teams of up to 120 people with budgets of up to £500,000. We are a team of around 30 people with a budget of around £30,000 so it’s good to be able to compete with them on that stage.”

It is a credit to the students’ year-long efforts as they all put in many thankless hours alongside a challenging Mechanical Engineering degree in its own right.

Preparation for the 2018 event has already begun with a brand new car being built for the competition. Despite the resource gap, QFR is aiming to be the top UK-based team come July.

“This is the year for Queens to venture from being one of the smaller teams to being one of the larger teams,” said White.

“There is more resource from the university and it is one of the largest teams QUB has ever run, an increase in six people from last year. We have a bit more of a budget and hope to bring more sponsors in to give us an opportunity to get high-end components.

“The powertrain is very strong, one of the strongest in the competition. The biggest area to improve is having the car built earlier so we can tune the suspension and apply driver training.”

You can follow the team’s progress on Facebook and Instagram at Queen’s Formula Racing. Please contact the team if you are interested in sponsoring QFR and back them in its push for N. Irish success on the international engineering stage. Thanks go to all of last year’s team members, volunteers and sponsors as well as a special mention to 2017 Team Leader Jamie McMillen.

Adam Hall

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