Each participating team of three to six students designs and builds miniature cars that compete against cars made by other teams. Like a real Formula 1 race, the competition itself lasts only a few seconds and computers time the cars and the reaction time of the drivers from the moment of their launch to the moment they cross the finish line.
Just like Formula 1, Formula 1 in Schools cars must adhere to strict guidelines -- 21 pages of specifications, to be exact. Racing a car is just a small part of the weeklong F1 Schools competition. Mercury Racing designed their car using Fusion 360 a professional-level 3D design CAD program and ran their car through a virtual wind tunnel. After virtually testing their car, they sent the files to London to be cut because they could not find suitable equipment in Rome. Once the final car was assembled, the students airbrushed the car themselves. But the preparations didn’t stop there.
Student participants are also in charge of their own marketing and fundraising. To prepare for this competition, Mercury Racing, made up of Tommaso, Marco and Valerio, 12th, 11th, and 10th graders respectively, created a website, several social media accounts, and uniforms. The team had extra organizational and development support in Rome from Nadya, a 10th grader, and Dialta, a senior. In the months leading up to the World Finals, they cold-called long lists of potential sponsors and wrote lengthy engineering and enterprise portfolios. Finding sponsors proved to be their biggest problem, primarily because there is no tax deduction for charitable donations in Italy. Tommaso, the Team Manager, recalls that, after participating in the F1 in Schools regional competition in London two years ago, the team began preparing to compete in Singapore in 2019 but had to abandon their plans when they ran out of funding. This financial setback only made Tommaso more determined to compete at the World Finals this November; in Tommaso’s words, “every since the London regionals, I’ve wanted to represent Italy at the World Finals.”