In September, five pioneering students from BIS HCMC Secondary Campus represented Vietnam at the internationally acclaimed F1 in Schools World Finals.
Not only did they create history by being the first ever team from Vietnam to participate in the competition, but they also came home with a trophy!
In an exclusive interview, Kisum Chan, Team Manager, gave us an insight into Team Helios’s success story.
Describe how the team felt when you arrived on Day 1?
The whole team was ecstatic from the moment we met up in school at 6:00am all the way to the hotel. When we stepped foot into Hard Rock Hotel to check in, the excitement in the air soon turned into eagerness to actually begin the competition and meet the 40+ other teams. We could not wait to meet everyone else and hear about all of the hard work they put in to be in a competition of this scale. As we started to meet the other teams during our team registration, we quickly got a sense of the calibre that we were up against.
Some of the other teams were a lot more experienced than Team Helios with the competition, did that make you nervous or was it more of an opportunity?
It would be a lie to say that we were not intimidated by the more elite teams. Their experience was evident. Their professionalism in the competition and the hundreds of sponsors printed on their shirts, highlighted the seriousness of Formula 1 in Schools. That said, we were able to use the opportunity to learn from them, not only improve our performance during the event, but also to pass our experience onto future British International School F1 in Schools teams.
Did you face any problems whilst you were there, with the car or with the team? How did you overcome the problems?
There was issue with the car prior to racing it which was a critical rule regulation failure, this meant that we had to fix the problem within 30 minutes or else we would not be able to race it. The problem was that when spray painting, the spray paint was less than 0.5mm too thick but it was easily solved using a piece of sandpaper. Another problem was that a part of the wheel suspension was damaged after one of our races which meant that we had to replace the wheel. Everything turned out well in the end and we also learned a few preventative measures that we could take to minimize errors made in manufacturing.
What did you admire about other teams?
We were all very impressed with everyone’s passion for F1, the lengths that everyone went through to use the newest technologies in order to develop and manufacture the fastest car. The designs from other teams were incredibly innovative where they were barely within the boundaries but increased the speed of the car. There were also teams with members aged 13-15, emphasizing the diversified age groups where anyone despite of age, would be able to compete in this large scale competition.
What do you think other teams admired about you?
From all of the teams that we met, they were all very shocked to find out how well we performed when having no prior experience or guidance from a previous team. On top of that, some of the other teams envied the teamwork that we had. Being from a tight-knit school helped our friendships to develop over the 2 year journey, this meant that by the time we arrived in Singapore we could work in synergy which is key to every functioning team. We had this advantage over some of the other teams with individuals who were geniuses at individual roles but failed to form an effective team. This could have contributed to us winning the best new-comer award.
(In hindsight, I really am impressed with every one’s performance and could not wish for a better team.)
What was the best moment at the World Finals?
The best moment was probably when we all shook Felipe Nasr’s hand when were given the Best New Comers award. It was the award the we were aiming for months before the competition and we knew that it was attainable. It was amazing to know that all of our hardwork and effort put into these 2 years finally paid off. It was funny because when the host announced us as the winners, even our lead teachers, Mr. Ball and Mr. McGraw had no idea how to react.
If you could go back and do it all again would you do anything differently?
Honestly, I would not have done anything differently. The team and I are extremely satisfied with the outcome and the journey to get here. If we were to have another opportunity to be part of the World Finals again, we would apply what we’ve learnt from all aspects of the competition including changes ranging from new manufacturing techniques, car designs to improve aerodynamic performance and reduction of drag and techniques to attract sponsorship. Sadly, every journey has to come to an end and so does our career in F1 in Schools. However, we will continue to work with the future teams of F1 in Schools, hopefully leading them to claim even more titles starting with 2016!
What advice would you give to next year’s BIS team?
Possibly the most important advice is that improvement is made by building on the past - look carefully at the designs of the cars that placed well in this year’s competition and analyse the different types of designs that would make their car faster. Start looking for sponsors early and don’t be afraid to contact big names such as major car companies that outsource in Vietnam as they would be able to give a great deal of support for the team.
Our school community could not be prouder of all that this team of ambitious pioneers achieved in 2015, and we are extremely excited about what we might be able to achieve in 2016! Well done Team Helios for blazing the path!
Learn More about the Team’s Journey to F1 in Schools WF.
Team Helios would like to say a special thanks to their sponsors:
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If you would like the opportunity to discuss sponsorship for F1 in Schools 2016, please contact Mark McGraw.