Monash University takes chequered flag in global Formula Student racing event

Monash University scores a double podium finish in international student Formula One race.

Student motorsport buffs from Monash University have designed, built and raced two cars into top positions in an engineering competition held on iconic British racing track, Silverstone.

The team, Monash Motorsport, placed first and third out of 129 teams from more than 30 countries in Formula Student 2018, a UK-based student racing car event run by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Two of the cars the students built and racedAnd here’s the kicker: the team of 110 undergraduate Monash students actually designed and built their winning single-seat combustion car in just one year. They raced it themselves, too, with the selection of nine lucky undergraduates to actually get behind the wheel beginning in early 2018 with a go-kart event to scout driving talent, with the best candidates then trained up for the track.

The team were judged by industry professionals, former top-level motorsport engineers and Formula Student alumni from across the globe on vehicle handling, acceleration and endurance, plus design, costing and business presentation skills.

Silverstone – the track where the very first Formula One race roared into action in 1950 – runs the competition in a time-trial format under a combined category, with combustion and electric cars competing directly against each other. UK team Oxford Brookes Racing took second place while Monash Motorsport’s electric car came in third.

It was the first time an Australian student team has competed in Formula Student with an electric car. And as it usually takes a team several years to iron out reliability problems associated with the sheer complexity of an electric motor (which tends to have greater instant torque and is faster in a straight line than a combustion model) - to land third place for their electric car as well as first place for its combustion car put the Monash crew on a massive high.

“When the wins were announced, the team gave the loudest cheers I’ve ever heard,” says Monash Motorsport CEO, Vincent Chu. “This result is not only from a huge amount of work this year, but would never have been possible without building on the legacies left behind by team alumni.

“Silverware from Silverstone has previously made its way Down Under – RMIT University took out championships in 2004 and 2007. It’s always fantastic to be able to represent Australian student engineering on an international stage.”

Car racing on the trackIn the past 20 years, about 40,000 students worldwide have participated in Formula Student, which is an ideal breeding ground for graduate engineers keen to work in automotive companies internationally.

Given the event is sponsored by big name partners such as Jaguar and Mercedes, are some Monash Motorsport students now setting their sights on jobs in international racing?

“A number of our team are looking to careers in motorsport and we’ve had alumni in Formula One, Le Mans Prototype and V8 Supercars,” acknowledges Vincent, “but most of our team are simply involved to develop technical engineering skills, applicable across a wide range of industries, as well as skills in team and project management.”

Monash Motorsport have two more pit stops as part of its European campaign before returning home mid-August: Formula Student Austria in Spielberg and Formula Student Germany in Hockenheimring, which biannually hosts the German Grand Prix.