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Australians win F1 in Schools competition 24 Jan 2006

The Stingers team, winners of the F1 in Schools world championships, Birmingham, England, January 15, 2006. World ©  Sutton

The Stingers team, from Trinity Grammar School in Melbourne, were crowned ‘F1 in Schools’ world champions at the recent finals in Birmingham, England.

This unique student challenge in which schoolchildren aged 11 to 18 use CAD/CAM software to design, build and test a model CO2-powered balsa wood Formula One car of the future, takes place in 18 countries, with an estimated 2 million children competing for the title, which brings with it coveted Automotive Engineering scholarships at The City University, London for each winning student, worth a total of over US$500,000.

The team of six students aged 13 and 14, beat off 16 other teams from 11 countries, including South Africa, USA, Kuwait, Malaysia, Singapore, Great Britain and South Korea to lift the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy before packed crowds of hysterical teenagers. The world championship requires teams to present their Formula One car of the future and race it on the F1 in Schools’ 20-metre race track, with judges assessing each team’s efforts on a number of design, engineering and speed criteria.

The Stingers had to fight hard for the title. In the time trial races, they were easily beaten by Team Aero Breaker from Malaysia who clocked 1.083 seconds compared to The Stingers’ 1.173 seconds. “There were long faces all round,” said The Stingers’ technology teacher, Peter Clinton. “We’d got better times with the car that won them Australian national championships last September. And we thought we’d improved on that car.”

Meanwhile, Team Flash from St Alban’s College in Pretoria, South Africa, very nearly shot down The Stingers by winning won the Best Team Sponsorship & Marketing prize, as well as the Best Engineered Car prize, but had to settle for the runners-up prize in the main event. Meanwhile, defending champions Team Turbo from Bloomsburg High School in Pennsylvania, USA, took third place.

“It was a big surprise when we won,” said Alexander Nunn, The Stingers manufacturing engineer. “I'm shocked personally and very, very, very happy. There are some great competitors out there, but, hey, it’s no fun without great competition.”

In designing their car, The Stingers visited the Hawker deHavilland plant in Australia to study aircraft wing design, and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to study aerodynamics. They even used the Schlieren technique for photographing invisible gases with a high-speed 1,000-frames-per-second camera.

The Stingers will return to Melbourne this week as national heroes, but will stop off in Paris to thank team sponsors, before preparing to defend their title at the next world championships due to take place in the USA.

Launched in Britain in 2000, F1 in Schools now covers the world and the initiative is acknowledged as highlighting some of the finest design and engineering minds of the teen generation, including potential future Formula One design stars.

“With Brazil, Canada, Germany, Spain and Portugal set to join F1 in Schools this year taking the number of competing countries up to 23, this challenge has finally arrived on a global platform,” said Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman of F1 in Schools. “The excitement and enthusiasm generated over the last few days will last a lifetime and will continue to change the lives of these children, their teachers and parents.”