WHAT prompted Andrew Denford to start F1 In Schools (F1IS) in 2000 was a shortage of engineers in the United Kingdom. He wanted to inspire students to take up engineering as a career.
The most satisfying aspect is seeing students who have turned into mature adults working in high-powered jobs in f1.
WHAT prompted Andrew Denford to start F1 In Schools (F1IS) in 2000 was a shortage of engineers in the United Kingdom. He wanted to inspire students to take up engineering as a career. Formula One was a natural choice for Andrew because it’s the pinnacle of highperformance engineering, with exemplary work ethics, dynamic businesses and all the glamour of top-level motorsports.
He created a challenge where students aged nine to 19 have to assume the role of an F1 team that has been commissioned to design, construct, test and race the fastest F1 car of the future. They also have to manage their budgets, including sponsorship, marketing and financial strategy. The competition culminates in a race on an elevated track 20m in length, based on the F1IS system.
Teams compete regionally, nationally and internationally for the Bernie Ecclestone F1 In Schools World Champions Trophy. Every world champion gets a scholarship to University College London. Andrew is 56 and a mechanical engineer by profession. He comes from a family of engineers – his father and grandfather were engineers, too. Andrew is also an F1 fan who has been to every single Singapore Grand Prix.
What were the milestones of F1IS?
We partnered Jaguar Racing for four years after we began in 2000. We ventured into the international market in 2002 and held our first World Finals in 2004. After two World Finals in the UK, we held our first overseas World Finals in Australia in 2007. The turning point was when students realised the international aspect of F1 In Schools. The opportunity to travel overseas and compete with other students from around the world changed their views.
F1IS racecars are made of balsa wood, powered by compressed air and created by students aged between nine and 19.
What were some of the diffi culties faced by F1IS?
As we began to grow year on year, funding was needed to keep it sustainable. We then expanded internationally and needed to support that with the World Finals. Getting the support from sponsors and getting the F1 community to understand what we’re all about were key. The breakthrough was in 2005 when Mr Bernie Ecclestone came on board with the worldwide Formula One brand. It helped us gain more credibility and access to F1 teams.
What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction?
Seeing the 2015 World Finals with 47 teams from 23 countries all come together, with so much in common and friendships that will last a lifetime. Seeing them progress to the job-seeking sphere and be headhunted by F1 teams is amazing. The most satisfying aspect for me is seeing students who have turned into mature adults working in high-powered jobs in F1.
Tell us more about the support from Formula One Management (FOM).
We work with many diff erent departments in FOM and the support from Mr Ecclestone is key. He always meets the F1IS world champions in the paddock during the F1 race weekend to present the trophies. He also connects us with various partners in his team and allows us to work with diff erent companies around the world. Letting us take the students to Grands Prix and into the paddocks to meet the F1 teams and drivers, see the garages and meet the technical people is simply priceless.
What do you hope to achieve through your collaboration with FIA Women in Motorsport Commission (WMC)?
We want to encourage more girls to take up engineering as a career. Past F1IS challenges have proven that an all-girls team can out-perform an all-boys team. The last four world champion teams have all been managed by girls. Engaging WMC allows us to prove to the girls out there that there are career opportunities in motorsports, and not necessarily the driving element.
What are your plans for the future?
F1 In Schools is in 45 countries now and 2015 saw our 11th World Finals. We’ll continue to expand into more countries and take the World Finals around diff erent continents. We want to give students all around the world this opportunity. With more countries, we will need bigger World Finals, perhaps a Regional Finals, maybe even an Asian Hub in Singapore.
Have your children participated in F1IS?
My three children aged 20, 19 and 17 have been helping at events, but they feel that if they took it up seriously, people may think that I’m giving them too much help. So their approach is to get involved, but not throw themselves into the challenge.
Which F1 driver do you support?
Lewis Hamilton has been to our World Finals and he spent a lot of time with our students. Being a fellow Briton, I certainly am his fan.