Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Southampton Formula Student racers smash team record in virtual competition

Published: 29 July 2020
Assetto Corsa
SUFST’s Michael Preston races to a third place finish in an endurance final on Assetto Corsa

Engineering students from the University of Southampton clinched fourth place in the Formula Student 2020 competition thanks to an innovative carbon fibre skin deployed ahead of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Southampton University Formula Student Team (SUFST) eclipsed their previous best in the international contest by over a dozen places by securing a highest ever points total of 783.7 out of 1,000.

The engineering competition, which is hosted by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, was run entirely online this summer and included a simulated race streamed on the Assetto Corsa software.

More than 80 teams took part from across the world, with the weekend’s live events replaced with lap-time simulations using a multi-body dynamics model and recreations of courses traditionally used at Silverstone.

The Southampton team finished second in the virtual acceleration event and third overall in a final endurance event. The students also secured a best ever finish of sixth overall in the statics design category.

Chris Sheffer, SUFST Team Principal, says: “We have kept the competition at the forefront of our minds all year and made sure we were pushing to maximise our performance in every area. We are all on cloud nine and I am really excited to see where the team kicks on from here.

“Bringing this project to life has taken months of research and development as well as careful planning to ensure we kept within budget and met our deadlines. We made the ambitious move to a carbon fibre monocoque this season and I think the whole team can be proud of this achievement.”

SUFST have also investigated options for an electric powertrain this year, with the target of competing with an electric vehicle in 2022.

Formula Student tests engineering students’ creativity and technical skills as they design, build and race single-seater cars to perform over a series of events. This year’s competition included entries from Nigeria, Egypt, Bangladesh and Norway, with more than 400 virtual presentations being judged across the event’s Business, Cost and Manufacturing and Design categories.

Several SUFST team members are set to enter careers in Formula 1, including Chris who will be starting as a graduate aerodynamicist at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, this September.

Winning a national competition hosted by BP last autumn was a huge moment for the team and provided us with a confidence boost and added impetus to reach our targets,” Chris says.

“Support from the likes of SFS, Gurit, the EDMC and Santander Universities has been key to smashing our record and we are extremely grateful for the continued backing from the University. Designing and manufacturing new race cars each year comes at a cost and we really couldn’t do it without all of our fantastic partners.”

Privacy Settings