Est. 1960


School children with bright ideas are now competing globally, racing 1/20th-scale F1 cars at speeds of over 110km/hr

- Anabelle Denford reports


F1 in Schools™

challenging the engineers

of the future

There are many definitions of engineering. “The practical application of the knowledge of pure sciences” is a usefully wide one if a little too abstract to convey the fizz and glamour to be found at the pointy end of the profession. How do you go about explaining the fabulous opportunities open to students of engineering nowadays? That was a question concerning Yorkshire engineering entrepreneur Andrew Denford in the late 1990s. Although convinced that the proposal he came up with and launched in 2000 would engage and inspire students, could he have foreseen that by 2016 it would involve 26 million students across the globe and still be growing?


At the 2016 FORMULA 1 BRITISH GRAND PRIX  at Silverstone in July this year the attendance reached a record high of 139,000 on race-day, clearly demonstrating the phenomenal popularity of the sport. Andrew Denford’s genius was to combine the visceral thrills and high octane glamour of Formula 1 racing with grassroots engineering and business skills training to produce a superbly packaged competitive educational programme.


Designing the F1 car of the future, student’s fire 1/20 scale vehicles along a 20m straight track, propelled by small compressed gas cylinders. “Somewhere along the line engineering became less exciting,” said Denford “and this is something we are changing through the magnetic appeal of Formula 1.” Called F1 in Schools, the potential of the technology challenge was understood immediately by the Formula 1 community who backed it enthusiastically. Inspiring students to build their own Formula 1 team, the competition is transforming global perceptions of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in schools as students in over 45 countries across every continent compete to become World Champion.


F1 in Schools is giving students aged 9 to 19 the chance to get their hands on the latest engineering technology, media training and hard business skills. As the only global STEM challenge, F1 in Schools is acting on the skills shortage in engineering and providing a foundation for the UK promotion of STEM subjects. “We hoped to create an exciting learning environment for young people” Denford declared, “now we have created a competition that is inspiring students around the world, it’s incredible.”


The pinnacle of the competition takes place annually at the World Finals, bringing together the top teams from every corner of the globe. This year’s World Finals took place in Austin, Texas, home of the 2016 FORMULA ONE UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX. Over 200 students from 39 teams competed over 4 days to clinch the title and win coveted Automotive Engineering degree scholarships at City University, London and University College London.


Critically, F1 in Schools understands the difference that the application of smart marketing and business acumen can make to a great idea. The publicity and presentation quality of everything associated with F1 in Schools puts many a commercial business in the shade. ONE17 GC, the graphic design and communication arm of the ONE17 group of companies, has worked alongside F1 in Schools right from the very beginning over 16 years ago shaping and moulding the way the competition is perceived year upon year across the globe with exciting, innovative branding to capture the host country’s location, lifestyle and culture.

...students in over 45 countries across every continent compete

to become World Champion

As the competition works its way through the year from Regional Finals,  to National Finals it culminates in the World Finals. These are usually held in glamorous locations such as Singapore and Abu Dhabi, in conjunction with the host cities’  F1 Grand Prix calendar.


Branding an event of such scale is no mean feat with many elements needing to be considered including the track, stage backdrops, winners’ podiums, pit booths, press and media backdrops, press passes, event reports, certificates, lanyards, VIP invitations and so on and so forth. Every single last element associated with the events works together to convey the professionalism that is at the heart of the competition.


This high quality approach really does set the scene for the F1 in Schools events and students involvement. Encouraging enterprise and imagination, each team is judged on the capacity to raise sponsorships funds, design an innovative car, develop a team identity and devise a pit stand as part of a brand. This year 5 teams travelled to Texas to represent the UK having qualified by taking the top spots in the national final held in May.


Amongst those representing the UK was team Turbocharged from Wilmington Academy in Dartford collaborating with Germany, in hopes of following in the footsteps of last years German/USA collaboration team and World Champions -  Union Racing International.



These are our engineers of the future

and our future in the UK has to include engineering



“The competition has links to many academic subjects, and provides all students with an extra knowledge in these areas that normal course syllabuses simply don’t provide” acknowledged Charlie Flynn, 2014 World Champion from the Robert Mays School in Odiham, Hampshire. “It has given me experience in losing as well as winning, and how to build upon mistakes.”  Going on to study Engineering at the University of Bath, the F1 in Schools 2014 World Champion believes that the competition has helped “develop transferable skills in a wide range of different areas; not only have I learnt how to design and manufacture to a professional standard but I have learnt how to work well as a team.”


“These are our engineers of the future and our future in the UK has to include engineering” said founder Andrew Denford. “There are many success stories that have come through our initiative and have gone on to achieve significant outcomes in their lives including positions in Formula One teams.”  With F1 in Schools alumni rising up the ranks of Formula One teams, with positions currently in Williams F1 and Red Bull Racing and other automotive engineering giants such as Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan, the largest STEM programme in the world is continuing to grow. ONE17 GC’s Senior Designer, Nathan Clegg said “We are very pleased and proud to be associated with this terrific global initiative that really is at the forefront of engaging young people in the future of engineering. Catch it if you can.”