Formula Student Czech Republic
For the rest of our lives, July 2022 will always mean the time we spent at Autodrom Most, in the beautiful Czech Republic. After two challenging years in which we were unfortunately forced to take a break from competing, this year we came back in full force and we are so proud of what we have accomplished!
Written by: Ilinca Ruxandra Popa
Here’s how it went:
Taking part in this type of competition means so much more than simply building a single-seater race car. The preparations for FSCZ started almost a full year before the actual competition and involved making plans, creating digital versions of the car and all its components, and eventually manufacturing or buying them.
To do this, we needed some fierce sponsors, willing to believe in us and our vision, and it wasn’t easy to find them. Still, after thousands of e-mails and closed doors that were leading to the loss of precious time, we had the great honor of meeting Sotiris Chatzidakis, CEO Clubs Romania’s leader and founder. He helped us meet many of our current sponsors and partners, especially our main sponsor, Raiffeisen Leasing and Bob de Man, CEO of Raiffeisen Leasing. Their continuous support helped us immensely and we are so grateful to have met our amazing sponsors and partners that gradually turned into friends.
Our team grew constantly. Not only in number -we expanded from under 10 members to 25-, but also mentally, as we learned so much from one another, and from both the hardships and the good times of working in the garage on such a complex project.
The first obstacle in any FS season is “Quiz Day”, the day when all the teams around the world gather to answer technical questions related to the competition’s design rules . The outcome determines what Formula Student competitions you have the chance to take part in. Even though UPB Drive qualified for more than one stage, we immediately set our hearts on the Czech Republic.
So it began. Sleepless nights, incommensurable stress, unhealthy amounts of coffee, and even a few fights here and there, that were quickly settled by remembering the passion that drives us all. The garage became our bedroom, kitchen, and office for our dedicated engineers, but no one ever complained, because, as the months went by and the competition knocked on the door, the single-seater slowly took shape and we could almost feel the sweet taste of success.
In June, UPB Drive was still working tirelessly and enthusiastically day and night to complete the construction of the car that was about to arrive at the Most Autodrom in the Czech Republic. Continuous work and the desire to have a tangible final product led to the construction of what is now the first functional car of the Formula Student team of the Polytechnic University of Bucharest.
The whole process of getting the team and our beloved car to Most was a challenge in itself. The journey began in our very own garage’s courtyard, where, after a total of 72 hours of non-stop work and another two of loading, the car was finally ready to leave for The Czech Republic. The journey ahead proved to be a really long one, and after almost 24 hours spent on the bus, there was a collective sigh of relief when we finally reached the campsite. Shortly after, we began putting up tents on the hill that offered us a panoramic view of the circuit.
Time was ticking by and there was still the car and our temporary garage that had yet to be set up. The tent sheltering the pits was about to become a second home for us and for 17 other teams from all over Europe participating in the combustion category of the competition.
Over the next week, we had the opportunity to take part in two technical inspections, all three of the static events (engineering design, cost report, business plan) as well as a series of discussions with engineers from the automotive industry and many others.
Regarding the competition’s trials, it was not only the technical aspect that was evaluated but also the way the team organized itself and its resources. The team behaves similarly to a company that benefits from human resources, as well as from material ones - the use of which must be carefully justified. One of our most notable accomplishments was the business plan presentation event, where we managed to rank number 7 out of 18 participating teams.
By simply being a part of the Formula Student Czech Republic experience and by seeing us there on the autodrome, with the car we built with our own hands and heads, standing alongside some of the biggest international Formula Student teams, we were already feeling like winners, like all our hard work paid off, and we finally got the validation we needed to go on.
We were not the best, but we were the best we have ever been. We did not go home with a trophy, but we learned so much about ourselves, about juggling with being a student, having a job, and keeping up with tasks for your team, about what Formula Student actually means, about engineering, marketing, and fundraising, about what you have to do to basically run a small business that will only produce one car/season. Not a perfect one by any means, but a car born from passion, teamwork, and hope. There is always a place for improvement, and we know we can do so much better next time, but for now, we appreciate this personal victory, and we thank all our supporters, friends, partners, sponsors, our university and especially we thank our team for never giving up, for making possible the things that seemed impossible.