From the 10th-14th of July, 53 teams from around the world went head-to-head in a hybrid event for the F1 in Schools 2022 World Finals where the Australian team, Hydron, were crowned World Champions. This article provides a glimpse into what it was like from the perspective of a competitor at Silverstone over the course of the event.
On the 10th of July, team’s were briefed for the competition in groups, built their pit displays and had the opportunity to visit both Formula Student and the Silverstone Interactive Museum. Further details on the first day can be found here.
The World Finals were opened by former F1 team principal and current British F1 managing director, Ross Brawn, beginning the unravelling of a fantastic event. Day 1 saw the first judging sessions take place, where teams had the opportunity to present further work and receive feedback in live Zoom meetings whilst standing in the commentary boxes used for Formula 1 coverage at Silverstone. A silver lining of virtual events occurring during COVID-19 lockdowns has been the continued inclusion of judges from all over the globe, which as a team thought provided us with a greater contrast in feedback. It’s no surprise that the F1 in Schools track system suffered after an air conditioning fault at the Silverstone Wing and temperatures rising to over 30 degrees inside the building. Many DNF’s were recorded however as a result of the climate, several incredibly fast times were set with the top 5 separated by eight thousandths of a second. Shortly after lunch, Pat Symonds, CTO of Formula 1, gave a presentation on his time in motorsport and the development of the new specification F1 car. During the day many ‘VIPs’ visited the pit display area at the Silverstone Wing such as Mercedes Technical Director, Mike Elliot, giving teams the opportunity to speak with industry professionals.
Day 2 of the World Finals brought judging and racing sessions to a close, where Aurora Borealis from Macau topped the leaderboard for the fastest reaction race. 2 inspirational speeches were given by Markus Vetter, F1 in Schools alumni, and Mark Grey from Aston Martin Formula 1 Team. Hearing Markus talk about this journey through the competition and Mark's climb to the top of motorsport, I found and am sure many others did too, was very motivational from sitting in a similar position as where they once were. As judging continued, specification feedback sessions were held to explain any regulation infringements and provide an opportunity to ask for explanations or questions. For Eclipse, this session marked the end of their judging process and after a very busy couple of days all that was left to do was wait and enjoy the remainder of the event by, for example, using the very popular Formula 1 2022 simulators.
Wednesday 13th of July allowed teams to arrive at the event for a much later start, providing ‘free-time’ for competitors to use before knockout racing and the Aramco presentation. Tom Deacon highlighted during their interview sessions that Blackout and Eclipse had gone go-karting together during the morning, an example of what teams got up to. For the first time in F1 in Schools history, knockouts were held with separate competitions for virtually and physically attending teams. In the physical races, the number 1 seed, Sonic Boom, became champions. This is the first time since 2015 that the number 1 seed has won knockouts, which is a testament to the engineering put into producing their car. Indian team, Helios, became virtual knockout champions awarding both teams with an official Pirelli ‘Pole Position’ Tyre. Although Eclipse were knocked out early on, it was a thrilling experience to watch and having never experienced knockouts before, it is safe to say it is arguably the most exciting element to the World Finals. The day ended with high spirits and visible excitement before the awards ceremony.
Just before the awards ceremony began on Thursday 15th July, the annual ashes race took place. This is an annual tradition at the F1 in Schools World Finals where the fastest British and Australian team go head to head in 1 reaction race to gain hold of the ashes trophy. English teams have had a notoriously bad record and unfortunately it wasn’t the year to change at this World Finals, with Eclipse losing the race vs Hydron by 1000th of a second. Despite this, Eclipse set the fastest time at the event - 1.013s. The awards ceremony began at 2pm, with 21 awards being announced and an extra 2 after the event. A massive congratulations to Hydron, BLACKOUT and SBA Avidity Racing who finished in 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively. The after party was held out on a section of the Silverstone pit lane and inside the building just behind it, which included a fantastic performance by Ellie Sax alongside a customised McLaren 720S that had been customised with a DJ Set on its rear wing. Attendees had the opportunity to sit inside the car and change the tyre of a previous Aston Martin Formula 1 car in groups too.
Having now come away from the event, it is safe to say that the 2022 World Finals were a massive success. After years of having to produce and organise virtual events, F1 in Schools put on a fantastic competition. All competing teams should be extremely proud of getting to compete on an international stage where the standard of work produced is so high. Despite not being nominated for any awards at Silverstone, Eclipse managed to hold onto their record of setting the fastest track time and later walked away with the ‘Best Exhibition Display’ after the World Finals had ended. Overall, the team had a brilliant time taking part physically for the first time, meeting some incredible people and making memories that will last for years to come. Have a closer look here at what it was like to be a competitor at the F1 in Schools 2022 World Finals by watching my team's experience through a short highlight video.