Another turbulent year is coming to an end, so it’s high time to provide a summary of this past season. At the end of every season, the Scuderia Mensa 50 or so members and a few alumni all gather. Together, they review the season and evaluate the successes and failures that accompanied it. The season began in autumn 2016 with a flurry of motivated and creative ideas. A few things needed to change. The drive train technology from the previous year needed to become more efficient, while efforts to digitalise vehicle systems were to be redoubled. “Everything new, everything better” was an apt motto for the 2017 season.[widget_block_right id=”SM”]
We started to to manufacture the racing car at the start of the year. The students quickly racked up hours spent in the workshop. Problems were encountered – and then solved. Compromises were made, and the team continued to develop from one week to the next. And then the moment finally came. “Symphony”, our racing car, was unveiled to spectators in the Opel Auditorium for the first time in July 2017. Naturally, we couldn’t skip a dynamic presentation of the new single-cylinder engine. However, this event also brought home the fact that a few tweaks were still required before we would be able to successfully participate in the Formula Student Series events that year.
Bad luck and failures, yet also new record times for the Scuderia Mensa
A fortnight after our roll-out, the team travelled to Assen for the first instalment of the Formula Student Netherlands. After a convivial welcome evening spent on the campsite with the other teams, the starters made their way to the pits the next morning. There, they would prepare the car for scrutineering: in other words, for technical acceptance. We made it over this first hurdle without any real difficulty. The team also dazzled in static disciplines such as the cost report and engineering design, enabling us to pick up our first vital points.
In the engineering design category, the brave change of concept attracted particular praise, while our comprehensive documentation of all parts in the car also helped us to achieve a very respectable second place in the cost event. However, the first problems quickly became apparent later on in the dynamic disciplines. Specifically, getting the car up and running on the circuit proved to be very difficult, as a consequence of which we didn’t get the results that we had targeted here. Nonetheless, the performance was still sufficient to land us 16th place out of 31 participating teams.
The season draws to a close
We continued on to Hockenheim for the Formula Student Germany. Tweaking the engine calibration enabled us to dramatically improve Scuderia Mensa’s car performance and solve the issue with starting. The lack of testing time now became apparent, however. A blocked injector nozzle led to a lack of performance in the acceleration event. Unfortunately, the end silencer also gave up the ghost in the autocross event after what was otherwise a quick session. And in the skid pad event, we encountered a particularly irksome type of bad luck in the shape of a pebble which became wedged under the accelerator, preventing the car from delivering its full performance.
The race in Barcelona for the Formula Student Spain then brought the season to an end. With a depleted team, we headed to hot and sunny Spain to once more coax every last bit of performance out of “Symphony”. The high temperatures in particular meant that the car and team alike really had to put in a hard shift. Nonetheless, we once more collected enough points in the static disciplines to secure ourselves a 19th-place finish.
Our motivation never takes a pit stop!
Overall, and despite the difficulties we faced, it became clear that our engineering concept at Scuderia Mensa still had a lot of potential. In Hockenheim, we were able to shave 5 seconds off our best time from the 2016 season. We will improve the tuning of the individual systems and components. So we hope to be able to exploit the car’s full potential next season. Some design improvements are also hoped to enable us to keep up with the pack leaders in the future. You can read about how our Symphony was created and much more here.