Formula Student diary: The wait is almost over

10 months, 50 students and a Ryanair strike later Queen’s Formula Racing is ready to take on the best engineering students at this year’s Formula Student UK competition. It’s safe to say we’re all raring to go.

I’ve been managing QFR’s communications this year and it’s been a privilege to share the team’s progress through the university year. As part of the suspension team I know how much time needs to be invested to get to the stage QFR is at now. Relief is probably the most appropriate word to describe how I felt after QFR18’s first track day. Up to then I had no idea whether the updated suspension design was going to be a success or failure.

Tomorrow morning I’ll meet 12 other team members at Belfast City Airport as we become the last of the QFR team to travel to Silverstone. It’s felt like an age coming around but I know Formula Student 2018 will be over as quick as a flash.

One year ago I stood at Becketts and watched Lewis Hamilton produce a stunning qualifying lap at the British Grand Prix. Most of the applause went to Fernando Alonso that day for hauling his cumbersome McLaren into Q3. Motorsport is special, Silverstone is its UK home and to have the opportunity to drive a car that I’ve helped design around some of its most famous corners will be a moment I’ll never forget. Let’s hope I don’t mess it up!

Growing up in Ireland I was never far from a motorsport event. Stock cars, rallying, road racing, all vastly different but all have the same rush. When the driver or rider puts on the helmet, releases the clutch and pins the throttle, then the adrenaline starts. As often said “It’s an addiction cured only by poverty.” Being a student, my addiction never really got going because of the lack of fresh tyre tokens. Now with QFR and Formula Student I’ve the chance to fulfil a dream and race at Silverstone.

I’ve always been interested in the early years of Formula 1. Pure. Raw and no rules to tie teams into mundane designs. Bruce McLaren was my favourite. A gifted engineer but equally talented behind the steering wheel. He left his life in New Zealand to pursue his Grand Prix dreams, eventually setting up a small team and building some of the most beautiful Formula 1 and Can-Am cars. As an engineer and petrolhead I can think of few vocations that could top that.

Throughout the past 10 months I’ve felt that Formula Student has got some resemblance of those early F1 years. A handful of young makeshift engineers maximising their limited resources to build a car that they’ll race themselves.

Stay in touch through the next four days as we try and top our result of seventh overall last year. It won’t be easy and we all know the real work only starts now. Who knows what lies ahead of us but whatever the challenge we’ll do our best to ensure it doesn’t halt our progress.

The tents are packed, camera charged and sun cream at the ready – bring on Formula Student 2018.


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