After a tumultuous year, the 2020 F1 in Schools World Finals have finally begun at Denford HQ in the United Kingdom. The virtual event was hosted by BBC radio presenter Tom Deacon who was joined by two time World Finalist Amy Martin as they welcomed teams over Zoom. Each of the 44 teams was interviewed in a broadcast covering the 18 competing nations. With only a few technical difficulties for some teams on Zoom, the virtual opening ceremony ran smoothly.
Ten of the F1 grid's 20 drivers, including current championship leader Max Verstappen, joined in on a video message wishing teams luck in the event. Pierre Gasly said, "It's been a difficult year with Covid so well done to all of you for the resilience you have show to complete your car and portfolio." This message of perseverance was reiterated by Formula One CEO, Stefano Domenicali, and President of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, Jean Todt who stated, "The passion to compete is at the heart of our sport and it is encouraging to see how you have all taken on these new challenges."
There was an extra message from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who welcomed teams to the UK and described the STEM subjects as, "Key components in steering us through the great challenges the World faces today and tomorrow." He added, "What better way to learn than though the invigorating stimulation of competition."
The 16th World Finals of F1 in Schools was formally opened by Amin Nasser, CEO of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Aramco, in a pre-recorded message in which he told students, "The skills you have learned in this competition are ones that will last a lifetime. Not just in engineering, or in project management, but how to share your ideas, how to bounce back when the wheels fall off—sometimes literally".
There was another message of good luck from a face familiar to the F1 in Schools World Finals, commentator David Croft (aka Crofty). Joined by his Sky Sports F1 team mates, Anthony Davidson and Paul di Resta, he expressed to the teams, "Just go out and do your best, you're going to be great!"
After more than half a year's delay to an event at times anticipated to take place in Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, an impressive collection of trophies was on display including the Identity Award fabricated from part of a Scuderia Ferrari front wing. A new F1 and Aramco branded 1st Place trophy was revealed—one which the winning team will be able to keep and not have to hand back for the next World Finals.
With on track racing starting tomorrow, anticipation runs high to see how teams will perform and who will become the next World Champions.