From James Hunt to Lewis Hamilton, the biggest racing stars in the world first shot to fame through their spectacular performances in Formula 3.
That’s why we’re incredibly proud and excited to help launch a very different set of racing careers through our F3 sponsorship program: those of top engineering students at Wolverhampton University.
The University of Wolverhampton’s Race Team is professionally run by ambitious engineering students. Having begun as a way to test out theory in practice, the team pushed things up a notch in 2016 by taking delivery of a Dallara F308 and transforming it into a cutting-edge powerhouse that they raced and engineered to second place in that year’s F3 Cup – their debut outing in professional racing.
We work closely with students to help them maximize their success, in part by using the Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE PLM platform to really up their game. Not only does this make them a formidable force in F3 racing, it also means we have a highly trained, super-smart pool of post-grads for recruitment, further down the line.
The beauty of product lifecycle management is that it gives teams a clear way to develop and maintain their cars as well as track and manage incredibly complex design and production cycles. When you’re dealing with something as engineered and high-tech as a racing car, you need to know that every element in that design is impeccable. You need to cut every tiny bit of waste and weight from your vehicle. You need to find the fastest, most streamlined ways to handle car setup, changing weather conditions, replacement parts, and wear and tear.
Within the PLM toolset is a powerful 3D design system that allows the team to perform a “Virtual Build” of the car, trying different setups, configurations and stress-testing components before they take to the track – or even before new parts are made. This virtual engineering and validation environment helps the team to massively reduce their spending on physical testing and prototype parts.
Take the team’s tyres. The team work with a range of tyres, including slicks, wets and scrubs that can be changed quickly to adapt to track conditions. They need to ensure the car is balanced so the driver can push hard and extract maximum performance from the tyres in acceleration, braking and cornering. This means they must be kept at optimal temperature and that the suspension setup is not so aggressive that the tyres are destroyed within one lap.
What’s more, perfecting a racing car means a lot of data collection and number crunching, all of which needs to be fed back into your system continually to drive improvements. The University of Wolverhampton’s Race Team uses all kinds of sensors to monitor everything from throttle position to brake position to GPS. They’re also looking at using load cells to measure whether changes they’ve made to aerodynamics are having the desired effect.
Last but certainly not least, a top racing car should look the part. The team work together on aesthetic considerations like car shape and colours, much of which has to be tested against performance and of course the rule-book. That’s an extremely intricate web of interconnected factors, features and feedback.
From CAD design, to virtual modelling and stress testing, to sourcing manufacturing parts, to improving collaboration between team members, the tools, processes and opportunities created by a PLM platform are designed to keep you zooming ahead of the competition.
For the University of Wolverhampton Racing team, that means using 3DEXPERIENCE to design their cars. The only student team to compete in Formula Student, AR Morgan Challenge, British Hillclimb Competition and the F3 Cup, this young team has already seen amazing results in racing competitions. Tapping into this technology will allow them to unlock even more of their potential, achieving even greater success.