Ever wanted to design and build a single-seat, open wheeled race car and drive it around Silverstone? That’s exactly what Team Bath Racing, a group of undergraduate engineering students from Bath University, did when they entered the Formula Student competition
BP recently met with their sponsored team, Team Bath Racing to find out exactly what is involved in competing as a Formula Student.
Bath engineering students are able to join Team Bath Racing in their penultimate year of study and most do so to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field and to develop vital practical skills such as budgeting, project management and team work. The students must work as a team to design a single-seat race car from scratch and at the end of the two-year project they present their design and business plan to a hypothetical manufacturing firm. Formula Student graduates gain credits for their final degree and the professionalism they gain from working as practising engineers is excellent preparation for their future engineering careers.
In the final year of their engineering master’s degree, alongside studying, they must actually manufacture the car themselves. The car must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable, and it must have high performance in terms of its acceleration, braking, and handling qualities.
The student engineers are free to use different power units to come up with their best ‘powertrain’ solution; however there is a 65kW electric system limit as well as a 510cc internal combustion engine limit. Team Bath Racing’s innovative solution used a single cylinder KTM 500cc motorcycle engine, coupled with a turbocharger with a 3D printed turbine housing and E85 (bio-derived) fuel. The team chose not to employ an intercooler, instead they used a twin injector arrangement to take advantage of the bio-fuels cooling effect. The team felt this arrangement was the perfect setup for maximum efficiency, power and acceleration, whilst also minimising CO2 emissions.
BP has been the title sponsor of the team for four years, and before that Castrol sponsored Team Bath Racing for ten years. This sponsorship has forged a strong link with the BP Pangbourne Technology Centre with eleven engineers, based in Pangbourne, that were Team Bath Racing Alumni. BP also supplied lubricant, E85 (85% Ethanol) fuel, and equipment to support the installation as well as providing financial support that allows the team to enter and compete at the highest level.
“Without this generous support, the high levels of development seen year after year at Team Bath Racing would not be possible. We can now measure torque, power, temperature and pressure with pinpoint accuracy, this has been critical to the development of the 2016 powertrain”Josh Slade, powertrain lead and BP automotive graduate from September
This year’s team competed in their first event of the season, Formula Student UK, in July. They were up against 130 teams from over 30 countries, competing in both static and dynamic events at Silverstone, the home of British motor racing.
For the static competition the team presented their business proposition, a costing exercise and their design. They had to explain the logic behind their proposal and to demonstrate that it could support a viable business model. At the end of the assessment, judged by experienced industry specialists, they were delighted to be in the top five for design, sixth in business and eighth for costs.
The highlight of the competition is of course the dynamic event, when the car is tested in a live environment, in this case around the Silverstone racetrack. They must perform various tests including; skid-pad (figure of 8), acceleration (75m), sprint (fastest lap) and endurance (30 minute race with a driver change).
All of these events are designed to test the students engineering knowledge and the car’s engineering prowess on track. Sadly the team had electronic throttle control issues in the skid-pad test but still managed to be placed 22nd and 18th in acceleration.
There were 72 teams that completed the sprint event, twice the number that made it this far last year. In the first race the first driver hit some cones and then the second driver ran into fuelling issues which saw them finish in 22nd place.
What is engineering?
Find out what engineering means to the students of Team Bath Racing
Team Bath Racing’s students spent Saturday night fixing the issues they had experienced earlier, removing the engine and outboard suspension components and reinstalling them just hours before their next event. Their pace was exceptional throughout the endurance race and at the time of their finish they were the fastest car of the day. With only the top European teams of Delft and Stuttgart still to run tensions were high – had they done enough in the highly scoring endurance race?
Team Bath racing were ecstatic with their fourth place overall, and they were also placed first in the UK entrants for the second year in a row. Congratulations Team Bath Racing!
The final countdown
Team Bath Racing have now finished their two European events. They travelled first to FS East in Hungary where they came 5th and then on to FS Czech. The team had an outstanding final race finishing in first place, making them the first UK team to ever win a Formula Student event overall - an incredible an achievement!
Find out more about the team's success:
About Formula Student UK
Formula Student UK is Europe's most established educational motorsport competition, run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Backed by industry and high profile engineers such as Patron Ross Brawn OBE, the competition aims to inspire and develop enterprising and innovative young engineers. Universities from across the globe are challenged to design and build a single-seat racing car in order to compete in static and dynamic events, which demonstrate their understanding and test the performance of the vehicle.