What is Formula Student?
Formula student is an engineering challenge involving the design and build of a single-seater open wheel race car. The finished car is then taken to compete at one or more of the eight competitions worldwide, each competition sees the team tested in both static and dynamic events. The static events assess the team’s presentation of the design, cost and business of the project. Dynamic events test the car in acceleration, cornering, reliability and efficiency. The competition combines the need for innovative engineering, careful project management and organised teamwork.
Dynamics Event, Formula Student UK 2017
Overall at Formula student UK 2017
The Formula Student competition is designed to introduce the participating students to the interdisciplinary approach of today’s automotive industry. This not only includes technical understanding, but also economic and communication abilities such as presentation techniques or financial planning skills. This is why the three static events demand collaboration across the team in the areas of design and layout, construction, marketing and pricing of a product. They also require specialised expertise from different technical and financial courses of study. Each individual event is weighted differently. A panel of experienced experts from the automobile, motorsport, and supply industries judge the performance of each team.
Cost is a decisive factor in the design of any product. In the cost analysis event, the teams must grapple with the calculative size of the vehicle, its components, and the necessary manufacturing steps and record all of this in a written cost report. The students must then answer questions from the judges relating to the cost report on their prototype. In addition to considering the thoroughness of the written report, the students’ understanding of the manufacturing process and the total cost calculation will be assessed.
Each team presents their business plan for the constructed prototype to a fictitious company represented by judges. During a ten minute presentation, the team must demonstrate why their design best fulfils the demands of their target group and show how their design can be successfully marketed. The presentation will be followed by a five minute discussion and question round with the judges. In this event the content, structure, and editing of the pres-entation, as well as the team‘s performance in delivering it, will be evaluated alongside their answers to the panel‘s questions.
At the start of the engineering design competition, the students must hand in an eight-page technical description of their car. FSD teams must additionally provide a maximum five-page description about the autonomous system. The documents must show both their design and how the design will be applied to their chosen construction. On the basis of these documents, the members of the jury will evaluate the layout, technical design, construction and implementation of the production of the actual vehicle. Then, there will be a discussion where the teams are questioned by the judges. These discussions focus on clarifying technical details, exploring the thinking behind the chosen design, as well as the corresponding technical understanding of the students. The evaluation will not only assess the quality of the technical solution in question but also the reasons behind it.
All components and accessories of the car relevant for safety are scrutineered. Starting with the chassis, the suspension is checked as well as the steering, the brakes and the rims and the tires. But also details like the placement of fuel lines, the fastening of the intake system or the correct operation of the emergency switch will be checked.
The tilt table test checks if the vehicle complies with the rules for fuel spillage and rollover stability. At this point the teams have to present their cars in ‘ready to race’ condition. This includes all liquids to be filled to the level at which the car will be operated, all components of the car are mounted and it is fuelled to the max.
After being fuelled up, the vehicle will be placed upon the table with the tallest driver aboard. The table will be tilted to an angle of 45 degrees. There must be no fuel (or other fluid) leakage at this angle. If the vehicle passes this test, the angle is increased to 60 degrees. This angle is used to represent a cornering force of 1.7 Gs. If the upper wheels remain on the table the vehicle passes.
The vehicle will be checked for compliance with the sound level restrictions. It will be placed with the engine running and the transmission in neutral. The testing rpm depends on the engine type and has to be held constant during the noise evaluation. Sound level must not exceed 110dBA.
If the vehicle passes the test, the team will be provided with the third “tech” sticker. The noise level can be re-measured at any time during the dynamic events.
The cars that the students design will not only be assessed when stationary. Their performance on the racetrack will also be put to the test. Each dynamic event tests different features of the vehicles. In addition to the maximum longitudinal and lateral acceleration, race performance, efficiency and endurance of the formula cars will be examined and evaluated. For the Acceleration, Skid Pad and Autocross events, each car starts with two drivers, each of whom is allowed two at-tempts. The best attempt is the one on which the car will be scored.
During the Skid Pad event, the cars must drive a figure of 8 circuit lined with track cones, performing two laps of each circle. In each case, the sec-ond lap will be measured. The lap time gives a comparative value for the maximum possible lateral acceleration of the car. Most of the cars use aerodynamics to raise the contact pressure and thus, increase lateral acceleration. As with all the dynamic events, knocking over any of the cones results in a time penalty.
The vehicle‘s acceleration from a standing start is measured over a 75 metre straight. In addition to traction, the correct engine design is especially important, either in terms of greater power or for the highest possible torque. The fastest cars cross the line in less than four seconds and can reach speeds of over 100 km/h by the end of the stretch.
In the autocross event, the FSC and FSE cars traverse a kilometre-long, the FSD cars traverse a 500 meter track with straights, curves, and chicanes. A fast lap time is a sign of high driving dynamics, precise handling and good acceleration and braking ability. Once again, time penalties occur for those who knock over any cones. The autocross rankings decide the starting positions for the endurance competition that follows.
Providing the highest number of points, the Endurance is the main discipline. Over a distance of 22 kilometers the cars have to prove their durability under long-term conditions. Acceleration, speed, handling, dynamics, fuel economy, reliability ‒ the cars have to prove it all. The Endurance also demands handling skills of the driver because there can be up to four cars on the track at the same time. Each team has only one attempt, the drivers change after 11 kilometers.
During the endurance race (FSC, FSE) and track drive event (FSD), fuel consumption (combustion cars) or energy consumption (electric cars) is precisely recorded. However, the absolute fuel and energy consumption is not what is used to calculate the efficiency score, but rather the consumption relative to speed. This is to prevent teams from driving particularly slowly in the en-durance competition in order to score as highly as possible in the efficiency category
Teams are judged by experienced industry specialists. A maximum of 1000 points may be awarded for all of the disciplines and the team with the highest overall number of points wins the competition. This table shows the distribution of points between the disciplines. FSC applies to teams using internal combustion engines, FSE to electric teams and FSD to autonomous/driverless teams.
|Statics|| ||Business Plan||75 points||75 points|
|Cost and Manufacturing||100 points||100 points|
|Engineering Design||150 points||150 points|
|Dynamics||Acceleration||75 points||75 points|
|Skid Pad||75 points||75 points|
|Autocross||100 points||100 points|
|Track Drive||---||250 points|
|Efficiency||100 points||75 points|
|Overall||1000 points||1000 points|
If you would like to know more and really get into the details of Formula Student, we recommend reading the official FSG rulebook, the link to which we have posted below. It explains in great depth all of the aspects of the competition and help the teams determine the design constraints for their cars. The data is correct as of June 2019.