Students build a single seat formula racecar with which they can compete against teams from all over the world. The competition is not won solely by the team with the fastest car, but rather by the team with the best overall package of construction, performance, and financial and sales planning. Formula Student challenges the team members to go the extra step in their education by incorporating into it intensive experience in building and manufacturing as well as considering the economic aspects of the automotive industry. Teams take on the assumption that they are a manufacturer developing a prototype to be evaluated for production. The target audience is the non-professional Weekend-Racer. The racecar must show very good driving characteristics such as acceleration, braking and handling. It should be offered at a very reasonable cost and be reliable and dependable. Additionally, the car's market value increases through other factors such as aesthetics, comfort and the use of readily available, standard purchase components. The challenge the teams face is to compose a complete package consisting of a well constructed racecar and a sales plan that best matches these given criteria. The decision is made by a jury of experts from the motorsport, automotive and supplier industries. The jury will judge every team's car and sales plan based on construction, cost planning and sales presentation. The rest of the judging will be done out on the track, where the students demonstrate in a number of performance tests how well their self-built racecars fare in their true environment.
In 1981, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the USA began the "Formula SAE®" competition, in which around 140 student teams from all over the world compete every year. Since 1998, SAE and IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) in England have been holding the annual "Formula Student" competition, normally composed of around 70 international teams. In 2006 Australia held the sixth "Formula SAE Australaisia" with about 30 such teams. Now there are teams of young engineers in Italy, Japan and Brasil competing with each other. The competitions are conducted under nearly all the same rules and regulations, allowing the teams to participate in several different competitions with little or no modifications to their work.
Why students are building racecars
Experience with teamwork, time and project management along with construction, manufacturing and the economical aspects of automotive engineering greatly improve the qualifications of young engineers. "Formula Student Germany" brings the participants out into the open for German automotive companies to see, thereby increasing job placement opportunities. Sponsors of the competition and of the individual teams are able to build valuable contacts with potential employees, and the employers are able to gain detailed impressions of the competitors throughout the events.
How Businesses and Sponsors Benefit from the Competition
Formula Student Germany offers companies within the motorsports, automotive and supplier industries a clear indication of the quality of the students’ education. Funding, awards and judging activities create opportunities for these companies to build personal contacts with the young engineers involved.
At Formula Student Germany the teams compete in 3 static and 5 dynamic disciplines.
The student teams „sell“ the judges (experts in commerce) their constructive solutions (150 points), defend their calculated production costs (100 points) and present a business-plan (75 points).
On the race track the prototypes must prove their capabilities concerning acceleration(75 points), skidpad (75 points), handling (100 points), endurance (325 points) and fuel-efficiency (100 points).
Engineering Design Event
In the Design Report the students set their constructive solutions and their advantages out in writing. Eight pages of text and vehicle drawings are supposed to convince the judges of their construction and its qualities for the sales market of the nonprofessional weekend autocross racer. At the competition the judges examine the constructions and discuss them with the students. The scoring regards the Design Report, the answers in the discussion and the inspection of the car.
Maximum scores: 150 points
Cost and Manufacturing Event
Costs are an important factor for building a race car. Hence, the students deal with cost estimations, manufacturing techniques and processes in the Cost Event. The discipline consists of a written report (the Cost Report) and a discussion with the judges around the manufactured prototype. The Cost Report contains a list of all components ‒ from wheels to process labour costs for special tools. The judging comprises the organisation of the Cost Report, the comprehension of manufacturing processes, the price and a real case task for reducing costs.
Maximum scores: 100 points
Business Presentation Event
The teams present their business plan for the built prototype to an assumed manufacturer ‒ represented by the judges. With this business plan they want to convince them that their car meets the demands of the target group of the nonprofessional weekend autocross racer best and that it can be produced and marketed profitably. The teams give a talk for ten minutes. Afterwards, the students answer the questions of the judges for five minutes. Content, structure, organisation and performance of the talk are judged as well as the answers the students give.
Maximum scores: 75 points
In the dynamic disciplines the cars have to prove the road capability of the studentsʼ constructions on the race track. The disciplines demand different qualities. In each discipline two drivers have two runs (except in the endurance). The best run will be counted as the optimum the car can achieve.
The race cars prove their accelerating abilities over a distance of 75 meters. The fastest need less than 4 seconds.
Maximum score: 75 points
The self-built cars drive on a parcours in shape of an 8. There are two consecutive laps on each circle with the second laps being timed. The cars demonstrate with a fast lap time how much lateral acceleration they can generate (up to 1.4g).
Maximum score: 75 points
The monoposti drive on a course of perhaps one kilometer through straights and curves. The lap time serves as indicator for driving dynamics and handling qualities. The results of the Autocross discipline determine the starting order of the Endurance.
Maximum score: 100 points
Providing the highest number of points, the Endurance is the main discipline. Over a distance of 22 kilometers the cars have to prove their durability under long-term conditions. Acceleration, speed, handling, dynamics, fuel economy, reliability ‒ the cars have to prove it all. The Endurance also demands handling skills of the driver because there can be up to four cars on the track at the same time. Each team has only one attempt, the drivers change after 11 kilometers.
Maximum score: 325 points
Fuel consumption is a considerable factor in the development of future cars. Therefore FSG has increased the rating for Fuel Efficiency in 2009 from 50 to 100 points. The points calculation now does not validate fuel consumption only but puts it in relation to speed. The calculation is based on an average per completed lap which enables an evaluation of teams that did not finish as well. However, the driver change has to have been completed. Teams that are more than a third slower than the fastest team as well as teams that use more than 5.72 litres in Endurance will not receive any points.
Maximum score: 100 points