By Eddie McAteer, Sports Investigations Editor
Netflix’s Drive to Survive has been influential in pushing Formula 1’s rise in popularity, in part thanks to its insightful behind-the-scenes coverage. Yet, how much can we as students actually relate to the fame and fortune of the likes of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull?
Well, as it turns out, the students at Bristol Racing can identify with it slightly better than most of us.
For many of us non-engineers, creating a functioning race car is about as likely as finding ourselves in Monaco with Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton. The Bristol Racing team, however, have done just that, designing and building their own car for the Greenpower Formula24+ competition.
The society’s involvement in Greenpower began in 2021, after it became clear that joining Formula Student would come with significant logistical and financial issues. Richard Hughes, Co-President of the society, said, ‘We decided Greenpower was the best fit for what we wanted to get out of it and what would be achievable given the resources at hand.’
External funding represented a significant obstacle for the brand-new team, as companies were wary of sponsoring such an unknown entity. Relying instead on membership fees and a faculty grant of £450, they did manage to get things moving, albeit with some careful financial management.
Despite overcoming the financial hurdle, there was the small logistical matter of storing the car. Unlike the F1 circuit, the team didn’t have the luxury of storing their creation with ease, nor did they have the money to spare for storage. Students, though, are an adaptable bunch, and the car went on its very own tour de digs – that is to say, student houses and basements across the city.
The car in question took eight months to produce, from design to completion and is made from a variety of materials sourced from various different places. The front wheels were provided by a member of staff, the back wheels are from Amazon and the rest comes from hardware stores. The only standard pieces of kit they had to use were the motor and the batteries, which are provided by Greenpower itself.
By using batteries, the team are taking part in an initiative that has green energy at its heart. Electric cars, including this one, emit fewer greenhouse gases. We can all pretty much agree this is a positive step.
Against the financial and logistical odds, they took part in their first race last month and finished 13th in a 25-team race, earning themselves the Spirit of Greenpower award for their efforts. All things considered, it’s probably fair to say they deserve it. Not to mention that participation in the race itself was far from certain, as the car was only completed the day before the competition!
Looking ahead to the future of the society, Richard and Owen Peckham, the other Co-President said, ‘we would really love for the society to continue long after we are gone.
‘We hope it can remain a fun and engaging society where engineers can get together and have a blast putting together cars.’
Richard, Owen and the rest of the committee have done some solid groundwork getting the society up and running despite the difficulties they faced. Hopefully, future committee members will have a slightly less challenging experience with finances and logistics thanks to the founders’ efforts. That said, it shouldn’t be too easy, they are literally creating a car after all!
Featured image: Bristol Racing Society