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Home   /   Girl ‘F1 designer’ in school: ‘When things get tough…’
Lindley Junior School team Speedy Snakes at F1 in Schools in Birmingham in January 2023. Photo: F1 in Schools, all right reserved.

The F1 2023 season may only begin in Bahrain on March 3-5, but the next Wolffs, Neweys and Landos have already had a head start with F1 in Schools in Birmingham.

Girls and boys from primary schools around the UK raced in the national final of F1 in Schools, an educational motorsport competition allowing students aged 9-11 having fun while learning life skills, back in January at the National Exhibition Centre in the West Midlands.

Children in the competition are required to first read the rules and regulations, form a team of three to six and decide on their own roles. Then, the team will design, make, assemble, test and race the car.

But the biggest challenge may actually lie not in any of the said aspects.

Katherine, 10, of Lindley, Huddersfield said: “I think the biggest challenge probably was the presentation of the portfolio, so like learning the script, and showing it in front of the judges, that was a really big challenge for all of us.”

In competing with other fellow students, Katherine, who designs the car, not only develops technical but also interpersonal skills, as well as putting her teamwork abilities to test.

Matthew Bottom, 29, her teacher at Lindley Junior School said: “They [the team] have really grown in their confidence, in their ability and their critical thinking… those higher order of thinking skills to get to where they need to be.”

Still, any team would require a car to compete. So tell us about the final car design?

The 10-year-old racecar designer beamed: “It has an aerodynamic head, in the shape of a snake’s head. And it has got a rattlesnake tail, which makes it more aerodynamic. We’ve cut off the sidepods so it would be more slim [slimmer].

“And then we decided to stick our logos on it, so people know it’s ours, then we added snake eyes and fangs.”

There had been a problem though with the old car as Katherine told us: “When it went down the track, it was fast but we saw it put drag on the car.

“So when we showed our teacher, he said that we needed to take off the sidepods because the air was going through the sidepods, and it wasn’t making it very aerodynamic.”

Lessons learnt.

Katherine, a 10-year-old ‘F1 designer’ in school, speaks about the design of the Speedy Snakes car. Photo: Dan Chan, all right reserved.

There is an “s” because what Katherine has learnt was not just a lesson about the design and stuff, but also another lesson about life.

“And that you should always persevere, and just never give up, because even when things get tough, you can still get through it in the end by perseverance and teamwork.” The girl designer from Huddersfield added.

Katherine and Speedy Snakes, the Lindley Junior School team, in the end ranked fifth out of 26 Primary Class teams in the UK National Finals.

The natural next steps for primary class competitors like Katherine are F1 in Schools’ own secondary class and world finals, and that is one of the roads to F1.

Such skills can’t hurt, especially if ones’ aspirations are to try to progress to F1. Because F1 is “total competition”, as the title of a book, written by former F1 managing director, team principal and technical director Ross Brawn and former CEO and then-chairman of Williams Adam Parr, suggests.

Did this race make Katherine want to work on F1 even more? “Yes! I would like to become a mechanical engineer when I’m older so I can work on cars and F1.”

What if in the future things go up and down? The daughter from a well-educated family said: “I think I will have to focus on just trying my best to get through these problems in a calm, and quiet, and still state without stressing out.

“If we don’t get into the world finals and I still want to work on my dream, and [if] I manage to get it, I can tell these people how this race made me want to achieve my dream even more.”

Right there. We may just have heard from the next Hannah Schmitz, the principal strategy engineer at Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Technology who obtained a master degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Cambridge.

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May 2024