Bath’s student racing teams scored a series of wins at the 2021 edition of Formula Student.
Held at Silverstone last weekend, the event saw 42 teams of student engineers from UK Universities compete in a range of events that put their design, engineering and racing skills to the test.
Bath enters three cars into Formula Student each year: a petrol-engined car made by Team Bath Racing (TBR), an electric car from Team Bath Racing Electric (TBRe), and TBRe’s driverless car team. The teams are made up of students on courses including Mechanical Engineering, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Mechanical & Automotive Engineering, Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering and Chemical Engineering.
Bath’s new cars take on rivals’ 2020 models
Team Bath Racing Electric (TBRe) scored an impressive five class wins, including awards for the most efficient car and best cost and manufacturing, as well as a hat-trick of awards for their autonomous car, which was named the best in its category
Despite building an impressive car, Team Bath Racing (TBR) could not follow up its overall win in last year’s event. Formula Student 2020 was held purely online due to Covid-19, so this year’s event marked a return to in-person and on-track competition.
In light of the continuing national restrictions over the past year, organisers the Institution of Mechanical Engineers allowed teams to re-enter cars from previous years. However, creating a brand-new car each year is a key philosophy of Bath’s teams, and despite many challenges they managed to do so, competing against machines that benefitted from much longer development times.
TBRe win awards for EV and driverless cars
TBRe’s project manager Mostafa Abdelrahman said that despite only gaining access to labs to work on their car in March, the team was confident of their chances. He added: “As expected, we were the fastest EV on the track by quite a margin, and the second fastest vehicle during the endurance event. Unfortunately, reliability issues due to the short testing timeframe meant that we were unable to complete the endurance event and the other dynamic events.
“Our strong performance still earned us the Vehicle Efficiency award and our performance in static events brought home the Cost & Manufacturing award. Our AI team also won the overall Driverless competition thanks to an excellent performance in the static events, which is a fantastic achievement.”
TBR design and performance earns plaudits
TBR’s car sailed through scrutineering, attracting several positive comments from the judges, but sadly failed to turn its excellent design into lasting on-track performance following electrical issues.
TBR Project Manager Benjamin Jenkins explained: “This was a truly heart-breaking result for the team, we knew from our lap times that we had a blisteringly fast car. However, the whole team is incredibly proud of what we have achieved together in the most challenging of years. We were one of the only truly new cars to have competed this weekend, in a year where just building a new race-car is an impressive achievement.”
Industry links key to building experience
Both TBR and TBRe have close links with industry, with sponsors including Ford, BP, AVL, Santander, Bosch, Mahle, AB Dynamics, GKN, Get It Made UK, and the University Alumni Fund. The teams offer their sincere thanks to all of their sponsors for all their support.
Taking part in Formula Student is viewed as a badge of quality for young engineers, with many Bath alumni going on to work for Formula One teams, top automotive manufacturers and well-known engineering companies and household brands.
Peter Wilson, Professor of Electronics and Systems Engineering in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and one of TBRe’s supervisors, said: “While the team is probably frustrated that they did not compete as well as they wanted to, it was simply wonderful to see cars competing again, and to see the effort, commitment and engineering excellence of our students. I am very proud of all of them and they in turn can be hugely proud of their efforts and hard work. The benefits of taking part in Formula Student from an academic standpoint are huge.”
Dr Geraint Owen, a lecturer in design & manufacturing and academic supervisor for TBR, added: “I have nothing but admiration for the team for the effort they put in to get the car built. They have learned a great deal during their journey through Formula Student - committing to building a brand-new car while many other teams reworked existing cards was ambitious, but educationally the absolutely correct thing to do. I’m very proud of what they’ve achieved.”