Waldegrave takes the chequered flag in the Fast Forward Challenge!

04 July 2013

Excitement, tension and ingenious science were all present in abundance as six teams of secondary school students fought it out to be crowned champions of this year’s Scientists in Sport competition - the ‘Fast Forward Challenge’ - held at the McLaren Technology Centre (MTC) on 20 June.

Read the full story below and check out our photo gallery to find out more.

The Challenge was kicked-off earlier in the year by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 driver Jenson Button and taken on by nearly one hundred young science teams from across the UK. Students were tasked with designing a test to help improve Formula 1™ drivers’ reaction times and concentration.

Following a warm welcome and early morning start, the budding scientists soon got down to the serious business of wowing the judging panel. Finalists took it in turns to present their ideas to a trio of judges from GSK and McLaren for the opportunity to win £1000 worth of science equipment and the chance to have their test carried out by a member of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (VMM) team.

But it wasn’t all hard work as the group was also given a once-in-a-lifetime experience, meeting some of the key people, and learning more about the science, behind the sport of Formula 1™. Earplugs were an essential piece of kit as the young guests watched a live pit-stop practice session, carried out by the VMM team in preparation for the British Grand Prix.


To add to the excitement, former Olympic rowing silver medallist Tom Stallard, who is now a core member of Jenson Button's race performance team, dropped by to answer questions about his work with the VMM F1 team, his own sporting achievements and the thrill of Formula 1™ racing.

With the judges locked away for deliberations, the finalists enjoyed a VIP tour of the MTC, which included a visit to the McLaren Production Centre where high-performance road cars are hand-built. They were given exclusive access to the VMM team’s workshops where they saw Jenson Button and Sergio Perez’s F1 cars being built for the British Grand Prix.

With so many highlights it was a very special day for all involved but the real inspiration was provided by the young teams as they presented their own ideas and experimental designs. Each one of them genuinely found a winning formula!

Like all great races, the final tough decision went right to the wire – it took the judges two hours of heated debate to eventually announce the winners:

 Runners up (in alphabetical order) –

Huge congratulations to all our finalists and a massive thank you to the team at McLaren for giving the students an experience they will never forget.

Check out our gallery of photographs to experience the magic of the day. And finally, keep visiting our website for more news on the programme as we gear up for next year’s challenge...