A podium finish for our Pit Stop Challenge crew

13 June 2014

Our ‘Pit Stop Challenge’ winners were the lucky recipients of a special backstage pass to the McLaren Technology Centre, where the McLaren F1 team trains, this week.

Budding scientists from Solihull School, Dartford Grammar School for Girls, and Kelvin Hall School, beat fierce competition from hundreds of students from across the UK to become this year’s three podium place finishers in our competition for UK secondary schools. As reported in our previous news bulletin, students were challenged to investigate how science could help the McLaren Mercedes F1 pit crew deliver winning performance, race after race, throughout the Grand Prix season. The pit crew regularly cope with heat and humidity, jet-lag, dehydration, and physical and mental exhaustion, yet have to maintain their world-beating pit stop times.

Arriving via the VIP entrance, our teams were whisked off on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the world-class MTC facility where scientists and engineers work to develop new technology and innovations that have applications beyond the world of F1 racing.

A stroll along the famous MTC ‘boulevard’, where the heritage collection of McLaren cars is displayed, was suddenly interrupted by a surprise visit from F1 driver Kevin Magnussen, who had stepped out of his training in the simulator just to say hello to our winners and answer some of their questions. Having clearly swotted up before the visit, our teams probed Kevin for his views on race performance and how scientific advances in the world of F1 make a difference to his job.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the visitors then moved on to the usually restricted race bay area, where the F1 pit crew was running a live practice session. The final part of the tour took in the production centre, where McLaren’s engineers hand build exclusive road cars in a setting that wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Trek film.

All in all, it was an amazing, inspirational and memorable day.

Overall competition winner, Luke Bryant from Solihull School, said: “It doesn’t get any better than this – I’d like to think I could work here when I’m older”.

George Leonard from Kelvin Hall School in Hull, said: “I’ve learnt it takes a lot to make a Formula 1 car. It’s been fantastic to see what goes into this”.

Jessica Last, technology teacher at Dartford Grammar School for Girls, said: “It’s fantastic that the girls have won this experience and can see real-world applications of science, engineering and technology. Through this competition it’s been great to see female role models in science and for the girls to appreciate the kind of career they could aspire to.”

If the experience of our winners has inspired you to find out more about science and technology, you can explore the free resources on our website.