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US team crowned F1 in Schools champions 23 Sep 2010

McLaren's Jenson Button with Unitus Racing team members, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 22 September 2010. © F1 in Schools F1 in Schools teams, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 21 September 2010. © F1 in Schools F1 in Schools World Finals, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 22 September 2010. © F1 in Schools F1 in School World Finals, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 22 September 2010. © F1 in Schools Formula One Group CEO, Bernie Ecclestone with F1 in Schools founder Andrew Denford, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore, 22 September 2010. © F1 in Schools

The Unitus Racing team from James Madison Middle School, Virginia, and Southeast High School, Florida, took the top honours at the sixth F1 in Schools World Finals event on Wednesday. The initiative sees teams of students researching, designing, testing, manufacturing and racing miniature Formula One cars.

At a glittering awards ceremony in Singapore attended by a host of VIP guests, the talented American students were presented with the Bernie Ecclestone World Champions trophy and coveted Automotive and Motorsport Engineering scholarships to London’s City University.

Twenty five teams from a whole host of countries had been competing for the title, but Unitus were judged to have the winning entry. The success of team manager Amanda Clark and her team mates Niemann Pest, Mark Nanney, Tony Griffin, Brandon Miranda and Yatrik Solandi means the US is the first country to have won the title for a second time.

“We’re all a bit overwhelmed and can’t really put what this means to us into words”, said Clark. “This was a total surprise. Our goal was to be in the top ten, as we knew we had been consistent in the various different judging categories. At the end, when they called the third and second placed teams we had no idea that we had won, we thought we had come fifth. It just shows what hard work and determination can do, as well as following a dream.”

The team were congratulated by McLaren driver Jenson Button, who managed to fit in a flying visit despite his hectic pre-race weekend schedule.

“Wow, it was a long journey for these guys, but I suppose it’s like anything you want to achieve, it is a long journey,” said Button. “A lot of people would also say that the journey is the reward as well. I’m sure it has been for these guys, they have had a great experience designing the car and congratulations to them. I hope they’ve enjoyed this experience and enjoyed their trip to Singapore.”

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman of F1 in Schools, added: “This team excelled with their consistency and attention to detail, putting together top quality work in every element of the competition and this really paid off for them. We’ve had a fantastic World Finals this year, with the quality of the teams outstripping last year and all the judges being highly impressed with the professionalism, commitment and innovation that has been put into the development of their F1 cars.

“There has been intense competition at this event, with hundreds of hours of work being put into each team's entry, as they strive to build the fastest, most innovative car with high precision engineering. The initiative mirrors the real world of Formula One, with the teams' professionalism extending to the pit display, uniforms, merchandise and commercial funding, with judges allocating marks for each of these aspects of the programme. The 25 teams have put in superb performances, but there’s always only one world champion and Unitus Racing are deserving champions, our congratulations to them.”

A total of 17 trophies were presented at the awards ceremony, which was also attended by Formula One drivers Lucas di Grassi from Virgin Racing and BMW Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi. Representatives from many of the Formula One teams were present and the guest of honour was Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Manpower & Ministry of Health.

Earlier in the afternoon Formula One Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone, a long-time supporter of F1 in Schools, visited the event. Ecclestone toured the teams' pit displays, and then took on F1 in Schools founder Denford in a head-to-head race with LG-branded cars on the track used by the students. Ecclestone beat Denford with the faster reaction time to win the race.

“It is super, super for the kids, it’s really great and it gets them interested in Formula One and a lot of adults as well are asking what this is all about,” said Ecclestone. “It’s magic. These guys will go somewhere, for sure. They get exposure, people know them and they will get a good position.”

The 2010 F1 in Schools World Finals have been supported by LG and hosted by Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Full list of prize winners:
World Champions - Unitus Racing, USA
Second place - Zer0.9 , Australia/UAE collaboration team
Third place - Aixtreme Racing, Germany
Best-engineered car - Basiliisk Performance, Australia
Fastest car - Aixtreme Racing, Germany
Best team identity - Schaeffler Hypersonic, Singapore
Perseverance in the face of adversity - Celeritas, South Africa
Innovative thinking award - Aixtreme Racing, Germany
Best pit display - Govannon Racing, Ireland
Best team sponsorship & marketing award - Unitus Racing, USA
The collaboration award - Zer0.9, Australia/UAE collaboration team
Outstanding sportsmanship award - Impulse, Dubai, UAE
Best portfolio - Basiliisk Performance, Australia
Best verbal presentation - Dynamic, UK
Best newcomer award - Impact, Saudi Arabia
LG Moment of the Week - Team Zenith, Wales
Best team website award - Qi, China

For further information on F1 in Schools visit www.F1inSchools.com.