Racing into Brighton

We were inspired by a visit from McLaren Automotive’s Senior Powertrain Design Engineer, Harley Gasson, today.

Harley, Automotive Engineering MSc alumnus, made a pit stop in Cockcroft to share his experience of life in the fast lane at McLaren with students. They also had time to chat to him afterwards and find out more about what it’s like to work at such a high profile engineering organisation.

It was great to hear first-hand about the world of motor racing as our project heads towards it’s next key deadline, finalising the design of our racing car.

F1 ambition

The Formula Student competition is the only way to get a foot inside proper motorsport and is the gateway for new engineering talent to make a name for themselves in a tough business. I know this first hand as a former race-team owner. To be brutally honest I chose my course on the basis that it participated in Formula Student!

I am the team leader of Brighton Racing Motors. The lecturers are there to support the team but cannot build the actual car – that is up to us, the students! I act as the person, together with our Deputy Team Leader, Victor Fernandes, responsible for submitting all the required documentation of performance, designs, safety and costing for the competition.
There are technically two parts of the competition; the racing, and the business.

The imaginary scenario is that we are an up-and-coming engineering company who has to build a small niche Formula racing car, to see if it is at all feasible. We are supplied with a cost-unit graph and then we have to go through the engineering and business process of building a racing car. In the end we have to submit a business case highlighting all our major decisions – and this is all given a score. If we submit a document late there are minus points for us.
The other part is the actual test and racing at Silverstone where we get points for various different challenges the organisers set for us. It can be argued which of the parts are the most exciting, but in my mind it is definitely the Silverstone part!

In essence we are six different teams:

  • Propulsion System
  • Chassis Kinematics
  • Chassis Structure and Vehicle Performance Prediction
  • Chassis Impact
  • Aerodynamics

Each team consists of 3 – 5 people and are each responsible for a major part of the car. I am personally responsible for simulating and evaluating the layout of the car, doing the Vehicle Performance Prediction.

My task is to gather and evaluate data and take decisions on the cars performance and layout to make sure it drives the best it can within the Formula Student regulations. I have previous experience in motorsport, so this is an interesting challenge for me, as my dream job is to be a Race-Team Engineer.

Every Wednesday we have a team brief with our group where we go through the progress we have made, and the challenges we have faced. These challenges are discussed with Dr. Daniel Coren, our coordinator, and Simon Harvey. They help us with the engineering aspect so we can be sure about our decisions. This is supported by a monthly meeting where we present our groups’ progress in front of the whole team, to keep everybody up to speed.

We are not a group of individuals doing individual projects that sums up to a racing car. We must work together otherwise the car will simply not work, this is great as it is a real-world scenario.

The Road to Silverstone

During this academic year, a team of engineering students set out to design, build and compete with the first ever University of Brighton Formula Student competition car, as part of their undergraduate studies. A big ambition.

During the month of July, at the Silverstone Motor Circuit, wheels were set in motion and heads turned in admiration as our students passed a series of scrutineering inspections and tests, and then drove their car onto a new page in the colourful story of motorsport and automotive engineering. A big achievement.

But how do you get from a drawing board to a race track? How do you turn ideas into reality? How do you turn a vision into physicality? Or to put it another way, how can a student take the next step to becoming a practicing engineer?

The engineering division at the University of Brighton has committed to the Formula Student competition, which is organised by Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), in a fully integrated fashion. Opportunity for our students to compete as part of their studies is provided by means of final year projects, while opportunities for students to arrive at the challenge prepared is provided by means of newly developed taught modules such as Vehicle Design.

Without a team of students, ready to put pen to paper, method into their mathematics, cutting tools to metal, this might just be wishful thinking. But our students have picked up the baton and run with it, all the way from our engineering labs to the legendary Silverstone motor circuit. A journey that has required vision, determination, planning, sponsorship, teamwork, ingenuity, calculation, quantification, and a whole lot of manufacture.

Brighton Racing Motors is the name of the Formula Student team at the University of Brighton, and Apex is the name given by the students to their 2017 car. The car is a bespoke design incorporating aerodynamic bodywork, a tubular frame chassis, a motorcycle engine, and fully adjustable suspension, geared to suit the short sprint circuits associated with the competition and capable of speeds up to 70 mph. The team has made full use of the advanced engineering and rapid prototyping facilities the university, including wind tunnel testing, engine simulation, 3D printing, plasma cutting, CNC machining, and of course, the expertise of the technical staff in our labs.

The tremendous effort and innovative required from the students should not be underestimated. In the quest for advanced learning and first class grades, all designs must comply not only with university assessment criteria, but also with stringent rules set out by the competition organisers, the (IMechE). Throughout the year, a business logic case, design, engineering specification, and cost reports have all been submitted to the IMechE, and marked by figures in the automotive engineering community who operate at the highest levels, including F1. And it doesn’t end there, these very same people were at Silverstone to witness Apex in the flesh and quiz our students. There is no pulling the wool over the eyes with people who have 20 years’ experience with F1 aerodynamics, but our students acquitted themselves with aplomb. This is no hobby shed project, this is preparation for professional engineering practice.

Financial arrangements are an important consideration for this kind of endeavour, and our students have negotiated sponsorship kindly provided from Santander Universities, allowing key technical features, especially aerodynamic bodywork, to be incorporated into their new car. Support from businesses in the local community has also contributed to this team effort, including Juarez Fabrication, Automotive Machining Services, Pipecraft Innovations, Genie, Prontaprint, and Family Store.

If you would like to find out more about our Formula Student activities at the University of Brighton, or if you would like to participate directly, please feel free to get in touch at:

You can follow the progress of the team, season by season, via facebook, twitter as well as our blog page:


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Santander Universities sponsor the team!

The Brighton Racing Motors Team is proud to formally announce Santander Universities as their primary sponsor. Team members gathered in our Formula Student Lab to gratefully accepting funds from representatives from Santander Universities. This sponsorship has allowed key features to be incorporated into the first ever University of Brighton Formula Student entry.

Learning to drive

Brighton Racing Motors team visit the University of Brighton VR driving simulator.

Our official logo

Team Brighton Racing Motor’s official logo for the 2016-2017 Formula Student season.