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One team, one goal – FaSTDa Racing

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FaSTDa Racing is the Formula Student Team of the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt. Formula Student is the race series of universities and colleges from all over the world. The goal is to develop a racing car from scratch every year and bring it to the race track. Leonie, Project Manager for the current 2020 season, reports on the F19 project and NORMA Group’s contribution to the racing car.

Our team was founded in 2007 by a small group of dedicated students. In the 2019 season, FaSTDa Racing consisted of around 50 members of various technical and economic courses of study. Each year we recruit new members and prepare ourselves for the international Formula Student competitions. These are not only the highlight of a season, but also the crowning finale. But before we can focus on the events, eight months of hard work lie ahead of us, during which each of us can live out his or her passion for racing.

With the support of a few new members, but also old familiar faces, we started working together at the beginning of the last season. This already began in the 2018 winter semester. Our new car – the F19 – was to be a further development of its predecessor, which was based on a very reliable concept. Special attention was given to the further tuning of our single-cylinder engine in order to increase the performance from the previous season once again. We also wanted to change the existing monocoque shape – the one-piece frame – of the car to save weight while increasing the car’s stiffness. A new chassis and aerodynamics package were also developed to improve the car’s dynamics.

Improved cooling system thanks to NORMA Group

With NORMA Group’s support, we were also able to significantly improve the cooling system of the F19 compared to its predecessor. The contact with NORMA Group was established at one of the many trade fairs where we are regularly represented in order to present our work, gather know-how and establish contacts. This is how we got in touch with Stephan Mann, Director of Research and Development at NORMA Group.

In the following, we have regularly and closely exchanged information and benefited greatly from the expertise of our contacts at NORMA Group. During the cooperation, we developed a completely new cooling line system for the F19 together with NORMA Group. It consists of thermoplastic lines for the coolant and thermoplastic connectors that allow the line system to be connected to the connected systems quickly and easily, yet safely and leakage-free.

The cooling line system of the F19 consists of thermoplastic NORMAFLEX lines and connectors
The cooling line system of the F19 consists of thermoplastic NORMAFLEX lines and connectors

The lines are 16 millimeters in diameter and the connectors are installed in variants with 0°, 45° and 90° angles. Thanks to these options for the connectors and the lines that are individually designed to meet our requirements and fit into the available installation space, the cooling system fits perfectly into the F19. A major advantage of the thermoplastic lines compared to conventional rubber hoses is their low weight.

Sven Rühl and Lukas Koenen from the FaSTDa 2019 team at NORMA Group’s prototype workshop with part of the cooling line system
Sven Rühl and Lukas Koenen from the FaSTDa 2019 team at NORMA Group’s prototype workshop with part of the cooling line system

“Thanks to the sponsorship by NORMA Group, we were able to save over 50 percent weight in our cooling system and significantly improve our cooling.”

We brought the F19 to NORMA Group’s prototype workshop at the company’s headquarters in Maintal to have the cooling system installed. Here our colleagues also had the opportunity to gain exciting insights into NORMA Group’s products and work processes.

Lukas Koenen and Director of Research and Development Stephan Mann from NORMA Group, installing the cooling system in the F19
Lukas Koenen and Director of Research and Development Stephan Mann from NORMA Group, installing the cooling system in the F19

All of our ideas for optimizing the F19 were ultimately finalized in the design phase and put into practice during the production phase, starting in early 2019. By the day of our rollout, we spent day after day (and often enough night after night) at our garage on the university campus to get the F19 ready on time. So, in mid-May, we were able to present our eleventh combustion car to friends, family and sponsors. But this was only half of the work that had to be done.

Testing, training, initial competitions

To uncover weak points and prepare for the race, we visited our test track regularly during the summer. So, we were able to put the F19 through its paces and train our drivers. Even at smaller test events, we were able to tune our F19 perfectly and get a first glimpse of the other teams’ cars.

July was getting closer and closer and so was our first competition. Traditionally, the FaSTDa Racing Team takes part in three international racing events. There you can find not only the various driving disciplines, but also economic tests, which, for example, examine the teams’ business plans or cost reports. So, a wide range of skills are required from our members in order to achieve a good overall team performance.

The “Formula Student East” was to be our first event this year. In Hungary, we put in an outstanding performance, especially in the economic disciplines. Besides having a good business plan and engineering design, the performance of our cost report stood out and enabled us to make it into the finals. We were also satisfied with our performance at the Formula Student Austria at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Styria. So, the whole team was looking forward to the crowning finals in Hockenheim.

The last handgrips on the F19 in Spielberg, Austria, at the Formula Student Austria
The last handgrips on the F19 in Spielberg, Austria, at the Formula Student Austria

Finals at the Hockenheimring

Every year, Formula Student Germany gathers the best teams in the world and thus represents the highlight of the season. With over 3,000 like-minded people, our team spent an incredible week at Hockenheimring, despite a few rainy days. But it wasn’t just the event alone that made our end of the season perfect. The performances of the whole team and especially the F19s were really convincing. By coming in an outstanding 2nd place in the Fuel Efficiency category and 7th place overall, we achieved the best result in the FaSTDa history.

The “Pit,” the maintenance box of the F19 at the Formula Student Germany in Hockenheim
The “Pit,” the maintenance box of the F19 at the Formula Student Germany in Hockenheim

We mainly owe our performance to the incredible support we received from others. Our families and friends gave us the necessary moral support when things didn’t work out the first time or when the project became particularly challenging. The active commitment of our sponsors, who were an invaluable help to us with their expertise and generous material donations, were equally important.

It continues on …

We hope for good cooperation in the new season as well, because we have big plans in 2020 too. To defend our place in Formula Student Germany, the development of the F20 has already begun. Our motto is once again “lighter, better, more reliable.” We again want to further develop the concept of our last car. Another highlight will be the first attempt at an autonomous driving concept. The realistic use of self-driving vehicles in our everyday lives is steadily approaching, so we now want to prepare ourselves for this new challenge.

It never gets boring at Formula Student and we are highly motivated this season too, which has already started, again with our FaSTDa Racing motto: “One team, one goal – together to success!”

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