Formula Student, also known as Formula SAE, is a challenging and very competitive design competition for students from all over the world. It’s the largest and most successful design competition in the world, with over 400 university student teams participating worldwide. The competition is about designing, building, testing, racing and marketing your very own Formula-style racing car. Teams compete at one, or more, of the events which are held throughout the world. At these events the cars are judged, not only on speed, but also on safety, cost, reliability, design and good handling qualities.
The essence of the competition is the education of the participants through the broad hands-on experience they gain while working in this high-tech and challenging project. The competition prepares students for their future careers in the engineering and business world.
The design objective of a Formula Student car is based on a case type story. The following part is taken from the “2008 Formula SAE® Rules” document. It describes the case after which the teams are assumed to design the car.
“The students are to assume that a manufacturing firm has engaged them to design, fabricate and demonstrate a prototype car for evaluation as a production item. The intended sales market is the non-professional weekend autocross racer. Therefore, the car must have very high performance in terms of its acceleration, braking, and handling qualities. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable. It should accommodate drivers whose stature varies from a 5th percentile female to a 95th percentile male. In addition, the car’s marketability is enhanced by other factors such as aesthetics, comfort and use of common parts. The manufacturing firm is planning to produce four (4) cars per day for a limited production run and the prototype vehicle should actually cost below $25,000. The challenge to the design team is to develop a prototype car that best meets these goals and intents. Each design will be compared and judged with other competing designs to determine the best overall car.”
The last part shows also what an event is all about. At an event, the cars are tested on every aspect described above in order to determine which car best suits the requirements of the manufacturing firm. In order to convince the manufacturer, not only engineering skills, but also management, presentation and people skills are necessary; the project comprehends everything the students need in their future careers as the captains of industry.
The most important events are the official events regulated and managed by the SAE and IMechE. There are more events throughout the year, but these are organized by teams or organizations other than the SAE or IMechE, like the DUTch Open held by our own DUT Racing Team in 2008.
In Europe the following Formula SAE events are organized:
- FSUK on the Silverstone F1 circuit in the United Kingdom
- FSG on the Hockenheim F1 circuit in Germany
- FSAE Italy on the Ferrari Fiorano Racetrack in Italy
- FSH in Györ, Hungary
- FSS on the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain
- FSA on the Red Bull Ring in Austria