Race of the students

Munich, 6. August 2013 – Formula Student is the kind of event that makes engineers wish they had taken part in during their studies. Students build a racing car together with which they compete in competitions. A real race does not take place; that is too dangerous for the organizers. You race against the clock.

Tests in advance

Acceleration, Skidpad, Autocross, Endurance, these are the dynamic competitions. In order to take part in these competitions, the vehicles have to pass extensive tests. In the so-called scrutineering the safety is certified. The driver must be able to leave the racing vehicle within the prescribed time, and electric vehicles must prove that the high-voltage network is isolated from the vehicle, even under sprinkling conditions. The brakes are tested, the tightness on a tilt table that simulates rough lateral accelerations.

The power of the vehicles is limited. In the case of internal combustion engines, this is done via a defined air intake. Electric vehicles must integrate a measuring device provided by the organizer that logs the current drawn from the battery. 85 kW are allowed. If a vehicle exceeds this value, the corresponding competition will not be evaluated. Despite these restrictions, the performance is breathtaking. 2.6 seconds from zero to one hundred, a racing car already exceeds its design speed on a distance of 75 meters and drives into the limiter.

Not only these dynamic competitions are rated. There are also points for presentations, such as the business plan or the technical design. The idea, according to Tim Hannig, chairman of Formula Student Germany, is that an engineer must not only design well, but also sell his design. "In the course of a year, the students move through practically all the functions of a company. Financing, design, construction, purchasing, production. Whoever enters a vehicle here has already won." The competition has now been held for the eighth time in Hockenheim. The power density of the combustion engines is very high. Two dominant designs have prevailed: naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines and single-cylinder turbos, both with rear-wheel drive. The four-cylinders have more power, while the single-cylinders are lighter.

TU Delft wins the E ranking

With electric vehicles, on the other hand, there is still a lot of experimentation going on. For example, there are vehicles with one and two motors and rear-wheel drive, but also four-wheel drive vehicles with one motor and transmission per wheel. With two or four motors, teams are now using torque vectoring and electronic differentials to transmit maximum power to each wheel. With 115 teams and 3000 students, the FSG was not only the roughest event yet, but also the roughest in the world. TU Delft wins among 40 electric race cars, Oregon State University builds the fastest race car and also wins the competition with combustion engines.

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