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Young engineers line up their racing car designs on the grid for qualification to prestigious F1 in SchoolsTM World Finals.

The UAE’s best young racers revved up their engines at Yas Marina Circuit today for a shot at glory in the F1 in Schools™ National Finals.

Students from twelve UAE schools set up their own Formula One® teams with a full business plan to design, build and race a miniature racing car.

Team ‘Blitz’ from Emirates International School, Meadows in Dubai clocked not only the fastest time of the day with 1.033 seconds, but the time represents a new UAE national record. However, when it comes to overall winners, the judging process combines scores from all elements of the competition: racing, engineering, verbal presentations and team marketing display. This means that team ‘Knight Hawks’ from The Indian High School came out winners in the Professional Class, while team ‘Impulse’ from Repton School, Dubai were triumphant in the Rookie Class.

The two team champions will now fly the flag for the UAE against hundreds of students from schools all over the world at next year’s F1 in Schools™ World Finals in Austin, Texas.

“Once again, we’ve been hugely impressed with the quality of the entrants, their enthusiasm for the F1 in Schools Program and their passion for learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) through the excitement of Formula 1®,” said Abdulla Yousef Al Shammari, Yas Community Manager.

“Yas Marina Circuit is proud to be supporting the strong spirit of innovation and discovery that is developing in UAE schools. We wish today’s winners every success at the F1 in Schools™ World Finals.

“Today’s event has been a huge success, with a fantastic turnout, strong competition between the teams and widespread media interest. We’ve seen F1 in Schools™ grow year on year and we’d like to invite any potential sponsors and partners to help us take this fun, educational programme to the next level.”

Today’s action took place on a 20-metre indoor track at Yas Marina Circuit, home of the FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX. Propelled by carbon dioxide cartridges, the small balsa wood cars sped along the straight track at speeds of up to 80km/h. Racing in pairs, the cars typically reached the finish line in just over a second.

The teams were encouraged to design and test their vehicles at Yas Marina Circuit’s Centre of Excellence, which has a CAD software studio, wind-tunnel testing facilities and two 20-metre race tracks.

Just like real F1® teams, the young engineers had to work within strict design and budgetary constraints to produce cars that are as powerful and aerodynamic as possible. They also marketed their projects, managed a budget, and tied up sponsorship deals.

Judges assessed the quality and performance of the cars and also factors including team uniforms, design portfolios, verbal presentation skills and promotional pit displays.

“It’s amazing, it’s such a wonderful experience for us,” said Aman Preet Singh, 16, team leader of the Professional Class winners, Knight Hawks. “We have participated here for four years and I think finally our hard work has paid off. It feels great to represent the United Arab Emirates in Austin, Texas and we hope the make the country proud.”

Maryam Al Ketbi, 12 from Repton School, Dubai led the Rookie winners team ‘Impulse’ said the team were very excited to be going to the World Finals in Texas: “We’re especially pleased as this is our first entry into the competition. We have never done this before and so we were all screaming with happiness. There are too many emotions to tell you about right now. The journey has been hard but once we won it’s like we deserved it for all the hard work we put in.”

F1 in Schools™ is a global multi-disciplinary challenge involving teams of students aged 9 to 19. The F1 in Schools™ World Finals was held at Yas Marina Circuit in 2014, and this year in Singapore.

This year’s winners, a collaboration team between schools in Germany and the US, made F1 in Schools™ history when they raced down the 20-metre track in 0.977 seconds, smashing the track record and breaking the one second barrier for the first time.

The competition aims to engage with schoolchildren and get them excited about the work of an F1 team so that they might go on to consider careers in different areas of the sport, particularly engineering.

By testing their skills in various disciplines, including engineering, marketing, sponsorship, design and technology, the idea is to nurture their personal development, creating tomorrow’s champions, while enabling them to have fun.

“The great thing about F1 in Schools™ is that it helps participants develop a variety of skills that can be applied to multiple professions, not just engineering and motorsport,” said Mr Al Shammari.

“As well as being involved in physics, aerodynamics and design, students learn about the marketing side of a business, such as branding, sponsorship, and media exposure. Managing a budget encourages them to think about financial strategy and there’s a strong team-building element.

“While the emphasis is on having fun, students are developing skills they can take into the workplace in line with the UAE’s continuing diversification into new sectors.” 

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