How was the journey?
Ben: The journey was tiring. A total of 30 hours of traveling with two transits was demanding. We did however, transit in Tokyo for an hour so we got to shop and try some local cuisine. We had lots of fun on the flights watching movies and playing Battleship and tetris against each other.
Rui: The experience as a whole was worth the 30 hours and more! Meeting student engineers, designers and marketing managers and real F1 teams, from all over the world for an entire week was amazing. The challenges that we faced in the pit stop building, verbal presentations and the actual races forced us to think solve problems on the spot! Being on live television was also really nerve-wrecking.
Describe how the team felt when you arrived on day one?
Steve: Tired and jetlagged. It was 10PM when we arrived and initially struggled to adjust to the timezone which was exactly 12 hours behind Vietnam! Despite this, when we saw the hotel view of the lake and of Downtown Austin everything seemed so surreal.
Did you know much about your competition before arriving?
Steve: We’d had some information based on last year’s team’s experience, however, when we arrived, we were blown away by the level of competition. Many teams had been working together for over 2-3 years, and had some stunning pit displays and cars. Nevertheless, they were all incredibly friendly and it was easy to make new friends.
This is only the second time a team from Vietnam has entered a team into F1 in Schools, was it intimidating to be faced with teams that have more experience of the competition?
Hae On: Definitely. Though we were aware of what was expected of us prior to the competition. We managed to build our pitstop, design our portfolios and prepare our verbal presentations according to the marking rubric and what Team Helios (from last year) helped us with. There were teams who were competing for the 2nd time in the World Finals in addition to countless regional and national competitions. There was one Austrian team that managed to raise an excess of 10,000 euros of sponsorship! Nevertheless, our car’s performance boosted our team’s self esteem and we didn’t let the intimidation affect our performance.
What did you admire about other teams?
Ben: The level of engineering of the other teams was incredible. They were able to get hold of technologies not accessible in Vietnam, and they were well equipped in terms of finance to invest in high quality components. The other teams also invested several years into developing the team, and their effort clearly showed in their pit displays, uniforms, cars, etc.
What do you think other teams admired about you?
Rui: The other teams complimented us on our unique take on the pitdisplay and how not only aesthetically appealing but also cheap it was! We think they really admired our teamwork and how close we were as a team.
Did you face any problems whilst you were there, with the car or with the team? How did you overcome the problems?
Steve: Our LERS were not legal because we pushed the limits with the design and found out that the scurtineers didn’t like it. However, we managed to fix the issue with 10 minutes of LERS service time the next day. When we learned that our LERS were good to go, we shouted in joy.
What was the best moment at the World Finals?
Steve: Eating Whataburger. Also, I was chosen as one of 9 students from all around the world to get into Randstand Williams Engineering Academy. Although they pronounced my name wrong, I was really happy when I was heard my name. The day after the awards ceremony, I had a chance to go into a real F1 paddock where I saw a Williams F1 car, engines and wing components from up close. Later, I had a chance to meet some drivers: Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen, and Pascal Wehrlein. I even got a selfie with Nico and Felipe so that was great!!!!
Ben: Placing second in the fusion challenge. Competing in the competition with extremely low expectations, placing second was an extremely rewarding and pleasant surprise. But most of all, getting two pairs of shoes in the mall for a steal deal!
If you could go back and do it all again would you do anything differently?
Ben: We would definitely look into outsourcing the manufacture of the wheels. Mr. Ball agreed that we are already at our peak with the current manufacturing quality. To push the limits and be more competitive, we would definitely make a business partnership with external businesses/universities.
What advice would you give to any future teams from Vietnam?
Steve: Look into outsourcing the manufacture of the wheels. Do not underestimate the importance of aerodynamics. Try to raise funds as soon as possible. Try to do everything before the start Year 13 because it will be harder to balance things out.
F1 in Schools is run as an Extracurricular Activity at British International School, HCMC, and Doppler Racing are currently sharing their experience with two new teams who are looking to enter 2017 and 2018 World Finals respectively. If you would like more information on how to secure sponsorship, please get in touch.
Lucy Glynn, Online Marketing Officer