Student perspectives

Another year of CTU CarTech’s formula student project, another successfull season

It has been 7 years of cooperation between our students from ŠKODA AUTO University and from Czech Technical University in Prague since they started competing in worldwide project, Fromula Student. Zdeněk Simek answered some questions on how do they cooperate and what do the races look like.

What is Formula Student, who are the participants?

Formula Student is an international student competition in which takes part of around 600 teams from all over the world. The aim is to design, manufacture and test the formula type car from the ground up, in which the teams then compete in different disciplines around various racetracks around the world. The teams have to build a car designed for recreational racing that works and also subsequently design fictious prodciton of 1000 pieces of that exact car.

When is the racing season?

The season starts during the summer break (june-august) we manage to go to 4 races a season. However the preparations start in the middle of september. Research and development and testing takes up basically the whole year.

What are the disciplines?

There are 8 disciplines in total, they are divided to static and dynamic. We can begin with the static, where belongs Engineering Design Event which evaluates the use of design solutions and design maturity. Next we have Cost and Manufacturing Event where the cost of production per 1000 pieces a year is evaluated. And finally Business Plan where the goal is to design and defend a business plan for a fictious company that makes these race cars.And now onto the fun stuff, the dynamic disciplines. We can begin with Skid Pad. The pilot goes around a track in the shape of an eight and the referees evaulate the chasis design in combination with the time in which the car went through the finish line.Next up is Acceleration where we compete in acceleration from 0 to full gas on a track that is 75 meters long.Autocross which is a narrow technical track for acceleration, braking and handling and finally Endurance, this is a 22km long endurace race to test the overal performance of the car.

What is the role of the ŠKODA AUTO University students within the CTU CarTech team?

Our group from ŠKODA AUTO University takes care of the Business Plan discipline part. Work regarding design, construction and testing is where we leave it to more experienced in these departments, our colleagues from Czech Technical University in Prague. However in the next season we would like to take on more competencies so CTU colleagues can free up their capacities and fully concentrate on the monopost work. The SAVŠ students from all four, now five offered fields will come into their own because they come into contact with logistics, finance, marketing or PR. We did not neglect the HR field, in the form of recruiting new members to the team.

So, you focus on the discipline of Business Plan. What does it mean specifically?

In this discipline we try to devise a business model/intention that we could defend in front of our potentional investors. You will learn how to make an defendable presentation, how to present it in english on an academic level. And what do you know thanks to these experiences you can maybe secure an investor for our team in the future! Sounds Cool, right?

How often do you meet within your group?

In the winter semester we meet iregularly once in two weeks. At these meetings we discuss various concepts of our business plan-we are looking for an idea.In the summer semester we meet once a week approximately for 2 hours. We are writing texts, working on the presentation that we thought about in the winter, thinking about detailed concepts and starting to train to present. Of course there is no shortage of work so we work regularly. At the meetings we present results and we remind and divide other tasks between each other. With the beginning of the season approaching, we meet several times a week so that everything is perfectly prepared for the first races.

How does the typical races look like?

As I said, in the summer the races begin and everytime something goes wrong so we must be prepared for everything, it is the part of the season where we work the most. It is important that we stay strong and work together as a team to resolve these issues most efficently we can. You can learn a lot thanks to working in a team that you would not be able to learn in a schollroom. Also a lot of things you learn here, you can apply and make good use of for the future. All races run quite similarly. First, we compete in static disciplines, including our Business Plan discipline.At the same time we have to go through with the so-called scrutineering, which is a process in which the judges check the safety of the car and also whether everything is in accordance with the competition rules-such as checking the noise or center of gravity of the car. Then the competition starts in the framework of dynamic disciplines and the right atmosphere of motorsport begins.

How was this years´ season?

This season our team managed to design the lightest car ever - FS.11. Thanks to the new design, we managed to reduce the weight of this year's model up to a great 190 kg and compared to last year's monopost we ran times faster about 1.2 seconds per lap.

What races did you go to and what were the results?

As I indicated, this year we went to 4 races in total and I had a great opportunity to take part in all of them and experience what it is like to spend almost all summer on prestigious European racing circuits and in the heart atmosphere of the motorsport. Our first race of this season took place in Assen, the Netherlands, on the TT CircuitAssen circuit, where the Moto GP is also run. The first ever race of each Formula Student season is held at the Assen circuit, checking the team's overall preparedness for the racing season. Despite the early date of the race, we managed to achieve results promising a successful season. It is certainly worth mentioning overall leadership in the discipline of “Cost and Manufacturing”. But we also had bad luck when we finished the main race in the overall 3rd place, but we were disqualified due to damage to the front wing. Nevertheless, we managed to bring 9th place out of 28 teams. For the second race we went to Varano, Italy for the Autodromo di Varano circuit. In almost all disciplines we managed to place in the TOP10. At these races, the potential of our monopost has been proven-we have managed to run times only 0.03s slower behind the fastest car in the main race. Thanks to the 2nd place in the “Design report” discipline and the 3rd place in the “Autocross” discipline, we gained a third place out of 43 teams. In the third race we were waiting in the home Most, where we had the opportunity to compete with all Czech teams. After two very successful races, the whole team thought covertly of the desired first place. We did better than we ever hoped. After several podium placements within the continual disciplines and the best time between the formula formulas in the main Endurance race, where we had the fastest lap by more than 2 seconds, we did it. For the first time in the history of the team in the competition of 33 teams we won this competition.

So there was a lot to celebrate, or?

Some celebrations took place, but there was not much time to celebrate success, because the next morning we had to pack up and go to the fourth and the most challenging race of this season. That waited for us at the Spanish circuit Circuit de Catalunya, where the world leader of the Formula Student and Formula 1 competitions meet every year. Here we can really compare the strengths with the best. In all the disciplines we have provided solid and mainly balanced results. It is worth mentioning the event when the front wing broke during the last testing before dynamic disciplines and disrupted the structure of the monopost. Thanks to a well coordinated team and tireless work, we managed to correct everything in time and eventually won 6th place out of 28 teams.

Really successful season, wasn´t it?

What are the plans for upcoming season? This year we have proven that we are able to finally measure our strength in the competition of the world leaders. We were even able to place ourselves twice on an imaginary box. The whole team is incredibly motivated and everyone wants to work even harder and more efficient so we can be even better next year. None of us only wants to participate in these competitions-which is said to be the most important-but we want to win. The development of the new FS.12 is already underway, with elements of autonomous control already appearing and testing. The goal of our group at ŠKODA AUTO University is to get to the finals regularly with our Business Plan next season (3 best presentations in the competition).

Is there something you would like to say by the end of the interview?

I would like to thank ŠKODA AUTO University and all parntners for their continuous support. Without their support we would not be able to do what we love and learn new things at the same time. It’s not always easy, but these experiences are worth the hard work and the struggle.

 

For the team CTU CarTech Zdeněk Simek