Formula Student Mobil 1 Team Sussex gives us the inside track… pt 1

As we reported last week, the 2015 Mobil 1 Team Sussex Formula Student Team was the most successful to date, but we were keen to know exactly what goes on at Silverstone. We knew that the weekend threw up some very interesting challenges, but what was it really like? Fortunately, Team Leader Harry McVicar has given us an insight into the weekend. In part 1, we follow the team to Silverstone…

‘The 2015 Mobil 1 Team Sussex’s Formula student competition began on Wednesday the 8th of July with a problem. Their tyre supplier had failed to deliver the day before, meaning a quick trip to Gatwick to pick up a new half set (they get expensive the day before the competition!) from a competitor supplier.

Tyres on wheels, wheels on the car, the team loaded up the Van and hit the road. Seemingly 15 minutes too late, as on arrival at Silverstone, they were told that, although the pits closed at 8pm, the latest you could enter to drop a car off was 7pm.  A quick U-turn, and an early night back at the campsite was in order, ready for an early start to Thursday and Friday’s Scruntineering and static events.

Thursday began at 6.30 to be in the pit lane for 7am to unpack the van and get the team registered. At registration, we discovered that all 3 of the competition’s static events (business, cost and sustainability, and design) would be held on the day. This led to the first challenge, where the time for the business presentation was misinterpreted as 12.00, when it was actually scheduled for 09.15. After some deliberation, negotiation, prayers and drop outs, we managed to get a slot later in the afternoon. And a good thing too, as thanks to hours of preparation over the previous weeks, the 3 presenters gained 11th place in the event and procured the team a very handy 62 points. The Cost and sustainability, and design reports also generated a  very useful 27.5 and 45 points respectively.

With less than 3 hours left of the day, the team rolled the car to what is typically the toughest part of the whole competition. Scrutineering. This is broken up into 6 sections, Safety, Chassis, Tech, Tilt, Noise, and Brake.  Within an hour and a half, TS-15 had sailed through Safety (with just one change needed) and passed Chassis outright, also getting a confirmed car weight of 244kg, the lightest of any Mobil 1 Team Sussex car. Tech Scrutineering threw up a handful of small issues, so the team wheeled the car back to the Pits and broke out the tools. With the necessary changes made, we headed home for beer and BBQ, feeling rather relaxed after a successful first day.

Friday morning broke with another early start to get a good spot in the queue to go back to Scrutineering. Thankfully, the queue for Petrol powered cars was short, so we wheeled into Tech, had the changes signed of and so began the testing of the drivers for their ability to get out of the car in less than 5 seconds. 3 out of the 4 drivers had no issues, but one particularly eagle-eyed scrutineer was unhappy with the seatbelt position on the shortest driver. Back to the pits, Seat belt change (to an infinitely more snazzy Willans unit), back to Tech – pass!

Now it was the turn of the ‘dynamic’ scrutineering (Tilt, Noise, and Brake). The tilt test was flown through (though being tipped to 60 degrees in a student made car is a bit unnerving!- HM), as was (much to the team surprise) the noise test, with a full volume of just 101dBc, where the limit is 110dBc, leaving room to open the taps a bit.

The final part of scrutineering was the Brake test; practically a formality given the amount of testing the team had done with the car. Or so we thought…

The first 3 attempts proved that the car was only locking 3 wheels, so it was returned to the pits to diagnose a contaminated pad. These were replaced and the car was sent back out for another attempt. The car set off with the gentlest of launches, and BANG, the chain was off. Hearts sank. Safety and Tech stickers were removed. On closer inspection a differential mount/chain tensioner had snapped. 200 miles of testing and the car breaks at Silverstone. The race weekend curse is real!

The car was limped back to the garage and the team came together to come up with a solution to get the car safe and reliable for the rest of the weekend. A fix was devised, so a quick (4:45pm on a Friday quick) trip to a parts supplier on site was made, and all non-essential personnel were sent back to the campsite for an early night. One large Pizza order and 6 hours later, the car was back together and awaited the judgment of the scrutineers…’

Will the car pass and make it to Saturday? Look out for Part 2 coming soon on Created by US…

(images by Malcolm Tam)

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