When thousands of young people from around the world gather at the Hockenheimring towards the end of summer every year, it is not, as you might expect, for Formula One or the DTM. Every year since 2006, the Formula Student Germany competition has seen over 100 university teams go head to head over five days at the iconic racetrack in the Baden region of Germany.
But what is Formula Student Germany all about? It is an international competition for students, at which they compete against each other in single-seater racing cars that they have designed and built themselves. However, it is not always the fastest car that wins, but the team with the best overall package taking into account design, performance, financial planning and sales arguments. The goal is to construct a racing car for casual motorsport enthusiasts, which boasts particularly good driving properties, whilst at the same time not costing too much and being reliable and as simple as possible to run. Since 2009, the competition has been divided into two classes: cars with combustion engines (Formula Student Combustion, FSC) and electric cars (Formula Student Electric, FSE).
A jury of experts from the motorsport, automotive and supply industries evaluate the design of the cars, as well as taking into consideration the teams’ cost and business plans. The students must also show how their cars are capable of competing on the racetrack.
"Formula Student offers budding engineers unique opportunities to develop both personally and professionally," says Clemens Klinke, Member of the Board of Management DEKRA SE and Chairman of the Board of Management of DEKRA Automobil GmbH. "Where else can innovative ideas for solving technical challenges be developed and implemented in a team situation and under realistic conditions? Right from the word go, DEKRA has supported the unique approach taken by Formula Student as Official Technical Partner."
The regulations require all the cars to undergo extensive acceptance tests, in order to guarantee a high technical standard and comprehensive safety. Experts from DEKRA are heavily involved in checking safety standards well before the actual event. It is up to the teams themselves to decide whether to have their crash box tested at the DEKRA Automobil Test Center (DATC) in Lausitz or by another body. When it comes to testing the structure, however, DEKRA is the only option: every safety cell, whether tubular frame or carbon monocoque, must pass the calculative strength tests performed by the DATC specialists, in order to be approved for the five days in Hockenheim.
The actual acceptance test carried out by the DEKRA motorsport experts is almost identical for FSE and FSC. The items checked here range from the drivers' clothing and tyre compounds to the individual screw retention of important suspension and steering components. The car is also subjected to the so-called tilt table test (table with lateral tilt of up to 60°) to check cornering stability. In the case of cars in the Formula Student Electric competition, the first things the experts focus on at the very start of the test are the electric power train, particularly the batteries, and the battery management with all its safety features, as well as the wiring.
As well as the prizes presented by the jury of experts, DEKRA also awards a special prize for those teams that arrive at the acceptance test with the best prepared cars. This award has been presented in both categories (FSC and FSE) since 2012.
For more information about Formula Student Germany, please visit the official website www.formulastudent.de.