Daimler HighTechReport: The Fascination of Technology - Issue 02/2008 - PART XI


Stuttgart, Nov 25, 2008

Formula Student: College Racers, Team Spirit - Learning life’s lessons on the world’s speedways

Sunday, August 10, 2008, Germany. It’s the dramatic finale of the “Formula Student” race at the Hockenheimring speedway. A track marshal has shown the “Last Lap” sign to the “F0711-3” car. Built by a team from the University of Stuttgart, the vehicle is on the verge of winning the race. Then, the big disappointment: The chain joint in the drive chain breaks just 600 meters before the finish line. The car from Stuttgart - the favorite among the 77 team cars from 19 countries in the 22-kilometer race - is left standing after having posted several single-lap records. All that remains for the Formula Student drivers from Stuttgart to do is get out of the F0711-3 and push it off the track.

The team’s rivals from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences had suffered a similarly disappointing fate one month earlier: At the Formula Student event in Silverstone, England, their “Stallardo’08” broke down near the end of the race. The sleek car burst out of the pit area at exactly 12 noon - but after four kilometers, engine performance began to dwindle rapidly due to a broken valve spring. Still, the Stallardo’08 was able to get back to the pit area. The fact that even Formula 1 race cars sometimes drop out due to defective components offered little solace to the two student racing teams from Stuttgart and Esslingen.

Constructors’ competition Despite these bitter setbacks, both teams consider their experiences successful. That’s because driving the fastest laps isn’t the only thing that counts in Formula Student, which in Germany has been staged by the Association of German Engineers (vdi) since 2006 and is sponsored by major companies like Daimler. Instead, Formula Student is primarily intended to be an international constructors’ competition for which students design and produce race cars themselves.

The series consists of events lasting several days in places like Hockenheim and Silverstone. During the events the teams present themselves to their fellow competitors, and to a panel of experts from the world of motor sports and from the automobile and automotive supplier industries. The guiding principle here is: The team with the best overall package - not necessarily the fastest car - will emerge as the winner of the competition.

Focus on the cars On the one hand, the jury (which includes ten members from Daimler) assesses each team’s design, cost plan, and vehicle presentation, and then compares these elements with those of its rivals. In addition, the students take their vehicles on to the track to demonstrate how well their creations fare in various disciplines.

The “dynamic disciplines” of Acceleration, Skid Pad, Autocross (one kilometer), and Endurance (22 kilometers) are preceded by a scrutiny phase consisting of a technical examination to determine, among other things, that no gasoline, oil, or other fluids are leaking from the vehicle. Braking power and engine noise levels are also measured, and if a car is found to be too loud it is removed from the track.

The teams stick together Obviously, the participating teams battle for every fraction-of-a-second advantage and every point - but the results here are ultimately of secondary importance. “The main aim is for participants to have fun with Formula Student, and for the teams to share knowledge related to technical and non-technical issues alike,” explains Simon Teufel from the University of Stuttgart team. Unlike professional racing with its secretiveness, Formula Student encourages openness. “We really stick together,” says Joachim Joos of the Esslingen team. “We try to help each other as much as we can, and we sometimes lend other teams spare parts, even engines and generators.”

Visit by a master The Stuttgart and Esslingen teams experienced a big thrill at the Hockenheimring when five-time German Touring Car Masters (DTM) champion Bernd Schneider from the Mercedes-Benz team paid a visit to the pit area. There, Schneider listened to the teams explain the Stallardo’08 and F0711-3, and then hopped behind the wheel of the Stuttgart team’s car from last year for a few quick laps.
The origins of Formula Student date back to 1979, when the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in Detroit, Michigan, staged the first such competition. Today, similar programs can be found in nations around the globe, including in the U.S., the UK, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Japan, and Australia.

Participants in the Formula Student competition take on the assignment of designing and constructing a Formula 1-type race car for a fictitious market of hobby racers, whereby the cost of the prototype must not exceed $25,000. What’s more, it should be possible to build a small batch of four of the vehicles per day. “Handling and suitability for the racetrack are the most important criteria, of course - but we also have to ensure reliability and keep costs under control,” says Joos. “The demanding requirements call for not only specialist knowledge on our part but above all teamwork and creativity.”

A total of 200 student teams currently are participating in Formula Student-like competitions around the world. Such competitions serve as a supplement to the students’ studies by providing a wealth of in-depth, practical experience in key aspects of automotive production. Those who can demonstrate creativity, a willingness to innovate, team spirit, and an ability to deal with practical situations during the competition will be in great shape when the time comes to launch their professional careers.

The effort pays off The tremendous amount of work the Stuttgart team put into preparing for the competitions in 2007 and 2008 has made it the most successful German Formula Student racing team. The expertise the students need comes only in part from the lectures they attend at the university. “We acquire most of the knowledge ourselves by reading all the pertinent literature, conducting tests, and sharing knowledge with other teams,” says Teufel, who is also the team spokesman.

Great dedication The students from Stuttgart face the same challenges encountered by their colleagues at other universities: Their studies take up a great deal of time and don’t leave much room for other interests. Formula Student is not part of the curriculum, for example. Ultimately this means that the students have to attend college for extra semesters. “Each racing season costs you one semester,” says Teufel and Esslingen team spokesman Joos agrees. Daimler is a sponsor of both teams.
This added burden also generates a positive effect, however, as the students learn how to manage their time effectively, an ability that is certain to be worth more than a few points when they take on their first jobs.

“What’s important is the fun and sharing knowledge with the other teams.”
Stuttgart racing team spokesman Simon Teufel

“Not only specialist knowledge is needed, but also teamwork and creativity.”
Esslingen racing team spokesman Joachim Joos

Stuttgart University racing team

With its lightweight design using carbon fiber, aluminum, and titanium, the F0711-3 weighs 20 kilos less than its predecessor.
Gasoline engine Four-cylinder inline, CBR 600 RR Honda
Displacement 599 cc
Output 70 kW (11,300 rpm)
Max. torque 64 Nm (10,000 rpm)
Acceleration 3.7 s (0–100 km/h)
Max. speed 123 km/h (regulated)
Transmission 4-speed, sequential
Gearshift electro-pneumatic

Chassis and body
Chassis Double wishbone suspension
Tires Hoosier Racing Slicks
Frame Steel space frame (28 kg), CFC crashbox
Body Carbon fiber skin
Weight 210 kg

Essington College racing team

The Stallardo’08 has a removable rear module that makes it possible to replace the car’s engine and transmission in a matter of minutes.

Gasoline engine Four-cylinder inline, Mahle Special Edition
Displacement 609 cc
Output 60 kW (9,500 rpm)
Max. torque 63 Nm (7,000 rpm)
Acceleration < 4 s (0–100 km/h)
Max. speed 110 km/h (regulated)
Transmission 3-speed, sequential
Gearshift electro-mechanical

Chassis and body
Chassis Double A arm with Hirschmann bearings
Tires Hoosier Racing Slicks
Frame Steel space frame, removable rear module
Body Carbon fiber skin
Weight 250 kg


At HTR Online, you will find a video and three photo features dedicated to the two racing teams and the event at Hockenheimring.
Bernd Schneider pays a visit to the pit area. The winner of several DTM championships took time to learn about both teams’ vehicles. Scenes from the Hockenheimring 2008.

The University of Stuttgart racing team was established in 2005 and has been very busy over the last two years. Scenes from the workshop and test drives.
The team from the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences raced for the first time in 2007. A look at the team at work on a vehicle that boasts a perfect body design.


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