Just two weeks prior, the team of students from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences were confronted with huge technical problems – they did have the best costings plan in the Formula Student constructors’ competition at the Hockenheimring, but their airbox was hit with issues and they lost out on valuable points in one of the front-running places as a result. There wasn’t much time for them to fix the problem before the next event, which took place last week in Spain. Even so, their efforts paid off, as they won an exciting final on Sunday, beating Valencia University on the Barcelona-Catalunya Formula 1 circuit. The students from Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences weren’t just the fastest in the Endurance event, the main race, they also achieved a valuable second place in the Efficiency category. In addition, they scored well on the Skid Pad, which tests lateral acceleration. These extra points were crucial for their victory, as they totaled 863.4 out of a possible 1000, closely followed by Valencia (860.3) who won second place.
A total of 28 participants, including nine teams from Germany, took part in the ‘combustion engine’ category at the Formula Student competition, an event that isn’t just about building a fast racing car. Speed is only one aspect that’s assessed. Equally important are acceleration and braking performance, construction, weight and production cost calculations.
This overall victory in Spain is the team’s highest ever achievement throughout their 13-year participation in the Formula Student competition. “The President’s office, and the university as a whole, is very proud of these students. They have given their all in this competition and were able to keep their cool at critical moments,” said Prof. Frank Artinger about their success. “For us, this impressive racing car, which the students develop further each year, is a testament to the excellent combination of specialist knowledge, the practical relevance of our teaching and our students’ ability to plan and implement such an extensive project.”
“We’re unbelievably happy and relieved that our efforts have finally paid off,” says Richard Herrmann, International Management student and team captain. “To win in Barcelona, after our bad luck at Hockenheim, is fantastic… such a great feeling! The team worked incredibly well together and our drivers pulled out all the stops at the end.”
This season, the team competed in a car that had been modified in many aspects, compared to last year’s. An improved chassis with modified spring damper elements and shock absorber mounts was added to the carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) bodywork. The team spent a great deal of time, compared with the previous year’s car, conducting computer-assisted simulations in order to optimize the flow rations on the vehicle – this allowed them to develop a more elaborate aero package. To increase engine performance, the speedster is powered with E85 instead of with premium gas. At the same time, the combustion chamber temperature is lowered, which facilitates engine cooling. The switch to the new type of fuel was made possible by a test rig especially developed at the university for this engine. This allows all the engine’s operating conditions to be tested and the drive train to be optimized.
Some functions on the dash panel, i.e: the electronic controls on the steering wheel, were also expanded, allowing for individual tire temperatures or a wheel lock up warning to be displayed. This means that the driver can receive immediate feedback on how their driving style is affecting the car. All additional information that can be called up regarding the status of the car is particularly helpful in the test phases because the data no longer has to be processed using a PC.
As is the case for every development and production process nowadays, the entire car was rendered as a computer model using CAD systems. This not only generated the required manufacturing data, it also allowed the various components and functions to be simulated and calculated. Subsequently, the components were individually manufactured and tested.