School’s F1 team rev up for action

Watch out Red Bull… a new Formula 1 team is challenging for honours.

It’s the brainchild of six Year 10 pupils at Ysgol David Hughes, in Menai Bridge, on Anglesey.

They are competing in the F1 in Schools Challenge that’s being backed by the sport’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone.

The aim is to use computer software to design, build and then race miniature gas powered balsa wood racing cars about 20cm long.

The team are hoping the car will reach a speed of more than 60kph on a 20-metre track when they  compete in the regional final at Bangor University at the end of January.

If they’re successful, they will then go on to national and international finals.

The structure of the team is based on the real life F1 outfits like Red Bull and McLaren.

In addition to preparing a business plan and developing a budget, Team Grease Monkeys have had to find a sponsor.

The firm that’s making their F1 dream possible is Peninsula Home Improvements, from Gaerwen, whose name will be emblazoned across the body of the car.

Two of the firm’s bosses, Managing Director Ken Grayson and Director Dylan Hulse, paid a visit to the school to check on progress.

Head of Technology Kevin Tulliver said Peninsula had been “very generous”.

He explained: “The challenge inspires students to use IT, to learn about physics, aerodynamics, leadership and teamwork, media skills and financial strategy.

“The teams are judged on car speed as well as supporting evidence of their design, a verbal presentation and their marketing stand in the ‘pits’.

“Using the sponsorship money from Peninsula, they’ve ordered some professionally made bearings to get to the fastest speed they can of the wheels rotating.

“The vehicle is powered by a carbon dioxide cylinder so there’s no mechanical drive mechanism, it’s actually fired along the track.

“This is a group of highly motivated students, five of the six are doing Design and Technology and they come in every lunchtime to work on the project.

“They’re now at the point where they can test the vehicle in a virtual wind tunnel on the computer, using this thing called computational fluid dynamics, so actually seeing the air flow, actually seeing where the pressure points will be.

According to Project Manager Joe Anderson, 14, they won’t be able to test the car properly until the day of the competition but they have calculated that a fully scaled up version would be able reach the same speeds as a real Formula 1 car.

He said: “My role involves making sure that everyone is in the right place at the right time, that everything is being done to schedule, and helping out the resources managers to make sure that everything is ready to go for the final pitch.

“It’s probably quite nerve wracking to know that it could all go horribly wrong, but as long as we do every step right we should go in with the best of confidence that it’s going to be successful.”

It was a sentiment echoed by fellow team member, Carys Thornton, 14, who is the team’s graphic designer.

Part of her role is to ensure that Peninsula’s name gets pride of place as the main sponsor.

She said: “I’m really enjoying it because I love coming up with the logos and stuff. I’m very proud to be part of the team.”

Ken Grayson and Dylan Hulse were “extremely impressed” by what they saw and heard.

Mr Grayson said: “I didn’t realise the extent of how technical it all is and I’m looking forward to seeing the actual race to see how it’s done.

“Young people get such a bad press these days but the enthusiasm here is just great to see and we’re delighted that we’re able to do our bit to help make this exciting project come to life.”

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