Thursday was the first day of events for the 2014 FORMULA 1 ETIHAD AIRWAYS ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX. This day permitted members of the public holding tickets to walk along a section of track and past the pit lane. We managed to get very close to the pit stops of each car and team, and it was amazing to see the buzz of energy as the engineers readied the cars. We even managed to catch a glimpse of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton!
We walked back to the Radisson after the Pit Lane tour, and had several hours of relaxation before the Official After Party in the evening. As it was an incredibly hot day, we all went down to the pool for some lunch at the pool bar followed by a short swim. We kept the swim short, as the whole of Team Australia (us, Gamma Raycing and Southern Cross F1) was scheduled to have a ‘covert’ meeting with Daniel Ricciardo. We quickly made our way to the Mezzanine level, and after waiting for an ‘extended’ period of time, Mr Ricciardo arrived, and there was a buzz of excitement as the team members surrounded the F1 star. He was a very casual and laid-back man, and happily asked and responded to questions from all the teams. He then gladly autographed various items (including mobile phones, ID badges and t-shirts) for everyone.
Soon after this meeting, we sped off to the official After Party, held at Yas Water World. A buffet dinner had been set up on the ‘beach side’, accompanied by a DJ. The party went on for several hours, with the vast majority of competitors ending up in the water in their clothes! They even persuaded Andrew Denford (the head of the Denford company and founder of F1 in Schools) and other F1 staff to join the water party. It was an exciting night, and one that won’t be forgotten!
Wednesday began with an early bus ride with all the other teams to Abu Dhabi’s famous ‘Yas Water World’. Once we arrived and changed, we entered the park before it was open to the public, and posed for a massive group photo in the artificial beach. Soon after, we were able to explore the park and use all the rides before the lines grew from the public. We had an interesting start to the riding, when we rode inside a blue tube that free-fell and then looped up and around before coming to a rest. Louise attempted the tube, but, for whatever reason, did not make it around the loop, and so slid backwards and had to exit through a special door! It was a slightly scary experience for her, but in all honesty, it was something to laugh about later.
We had a great time riding several massive water rides, and relaxing and bonding as a team before we headed back to the Radisson to prepare for the formal dinner.
After donning suits, ties and formal dresses, we all headed to Ferrari World for the last time. When we arrived, we mingled with the other teams around the pit display area, before several VIP’s like Sam Michael, Claire Williams and Esteban Guitiérrez arrived to meet the teams.
We then headed off to the awards dinner. The ceremony began with videos encompassing highlights from the week, as well as an introduction about next year’s World Finals in Singapore. After a lengthy and problematic buffet service for 550 people, the ceremony finally commenced. David Croft (Sky Sports F1 commentator) was the MC for the evening, and proceeded to present each award. It was unfortunate that Impact did not receive an award, however, we extend our utmost congratulations to the winning teams. The presentation concluded with the presentation of the top 3 teams: 1st – Colossus F1 (England); 2nd – Gamma Raycing (Australia); 3rd – Boreas (Germany).
It was a sombre ending to the competition as whole. Whilst we may not have performed to the standard we would have liked, we are incredibly grateful for the experience. We have formed lifelong relationships and have experienced things that we would never have had the chance of experiencing anywhere else. This experience has been absolutely astounding, and we look forward to competing again!
Firstly, we would like to apologise for the delay in blog posts. We have been very busy with activities around Abu Dhabi and for the Formula 1, that there has been very little free time! Nonetheless, here we go!
Tuesday the 18th was a day filled with intense focus from the pressure challenge, relaxing by the pool and pushing through knockout-racing. Tuesday 18th was the 3rd and final day of competition.
The morning began with continued work on the pressure challenge after having stayed up ’till 3am working on the project. Following this, the team gathered in the ‘Galaxy Hall’ with all the other teams, and were given a briefing followed by a 2 hour intense period of finalising the design for the racing helmet. Whilst the 6 core team members worked away at the project, the supporters and affiliates relaxed by the gorgeous Radisson Blu Abu Dhabi swimming pool.
Later in the day, we all headed off to Ferrari World once again for the knock-out racing. This involved a series of reaction races between teams, knocking out the losing team in each round. Impact succeeded in round 1, however, false started in the second round and was knocked out. Our trigger-person (Sebastian) made the decision to attempt to pre-empt the reaction, as the opposition team was highly ranked and had a very fast car. He took the risk of pre-empting in order to try to succeed against the opposition, however, this was unfortunately unsuccessful.
We then had several hours in the amazing theme park, and so spent it riding the Formula Rossa (the world’s fastest roller coaster) several times! Whilst we had ridden it before, it was so much more amazing during the night with a wide expanse of lights across the landscape.
This was the final day of competition, and the next day will see the awards ceremony. As a team, we have grown very close together, and are extraordinarily sad to have finally finished competing. However, there are still many activities planned for the coming days!
The 17th was a day filled to the brim with end-to-end judging and scrutineering.
With a fairly late arrival at Ferrari World for the second day of the competition, we fixed up our pit display and prepared for the verbal presentation. As a team, we had all been up very late finalising this presentation. Quantum’s (the 4 Newington boys’ team before we formed the collaboration) verbal presentation at the Australian Nationals was one that was very unique and interesting. As opposed to a formal power point and palm cards, the presentation involved a relaxed conversation. For the World Finals presentation, we decided to implement a similar idea. We set it up to mimic a Skype conversation between the boys in Australia and the girls in Scotland. The conversation over Skype conveyed all the information that was required, but in a unique way. After giving the presentation, we were glad to see that the judges were thoroughly impressed with the team’s performance. Concluding that, we had a short time to relax before the next events.
Later in the day, we began reaction racing. In these races, Sebastian Hodge pressed the trigger to propel the car. The starting gates have lights that progressively light up, and then all switch off at varying times. The trigger person must press the trigger as soon as the lights switch off. We performed fairly well with reaction times and with race times.
Following this we took the cars to servicing, where the engineers and designers of the team could alter and fix things that needed to be fixed.
In the evening, the team was photographed and filmed for various media releases before we headed back to the Radisson.
We should also make it a point that in the morning, Mr Pyne, Mr Honeywill, Roger Li and myself (Ashan Karunagaran) rode the Formula Rossa. This roller-coaster is Ferrari World’s biggest attraction, as it is the fastest roller coaster in the world. It was an exhilarating experience, especially riding the first run of the day. Mr Pyne and Mr Honeywill took the brave option and sat in the very front row!
After returning to the Radisson, we spent the late evening working collaboratively on the ‘Pressure Challenge’, where we had to design the livery for a Formula 1 Racing helmet. It was an enduring experience which had us awake until about 2:30am the next day…
Nonetheless, this whole experience has been absolutely incredible.
We had an incredibly early start this morning, as we lugged every single piece of our booth down lifts and stairs with every other team. There was a quick F1 breakfast, and then we all boarded the coaches to head off to Ferrari World.
We arrived at the basement entrance to the massive park, and headed up through a labyrinth of tunnels ‘behind the scenes’ of Ferrari World. We emerged in the middle of the park, and the sight was spectacular! The scene was so peaceful, with a ceiling towering over 50 metres above us, and, as the park was not yet open to the public, there was an immense amount of space and freedom. For the next 3 hours, the park was ours, and ours only!
Once all the teams arrived, we commenced the booth setup at 8:30am. The competition is very strict on the setup of our booths. Only the 6 team members are permitted to do anything to the booth, and they are given 2 hours to do so. The team pushed, but made it with time to spare, and the booth looked amazing!
We then managed to have several hours of free time. We were able to use the entire park without the public present until 11 am. The team took advantage of this and rode the Go-Karts and explored the park in it’s awe-inspiring ’emptiness’. Following this, we proceeded to the opening ceremony at 1pm. This event was beautifully set up in the Ferrari World Red Theatre, and several Emirati VIP’s, UK VIP’s and other national VIP’s were in attendance. Steve Nevvy, a Sky News commentator, presented the ceremony. We were also given the opportunity of meeting Mr Pablo Kang (the Australian Ambassador to the UAE and Qatar) with the other two Australian teams. It was great to make a connection with an Australian figure-head when representing the nation overseas.
In the afternoon, the team was scheduled to carry out our engineering interview. This is an interview between all of the team members and two judges, who ask them technical questions about the car designs. The team presents their statements and information, and the judges intervene and ask respective questions throughout. This could include details on computer design, manufacturing, testing and other technical elements. The night before, and on that morning, the team spent time talking together to ensure that everyone in the team would be able to contribute and answer the judges’ questions.
We kicked off racing in the early evening. The automatic races were carried out for all teams, whereby both cars start running at precisely the same moment. This is in contrast to the reaction racing, which was scheduled for later. Colossus F1, a team from England, surprised every one of us, as they broke the F1 in Schools World Record, racing the track in 1.003 seconds. However, there was later some controversy over this win, as the team had used part of a plastic bottle to alter the starting mechanism and direct the flow of the releasing air. Several teams complained that this was a breach of the rules. As of the 18th November, the team has been allowed to keep the win, however, there are ongoing discussions.
The late evening was very busy, as the whole team gathered in a hotel room to practice and discuss the verbal presentation for the next day. There were tears, screams and hugs, but in the end we pushed out a presentation to be proud of.
We will update you shortly on the second day of the competition!
Today (15/11/14) was a day for sightseeing, bonding and progress.
We began the day with a full breakfast at the Radisson Galaxy Room with all the other F1 teams. We found it to be a great place to have breakfast each morning, allowing us to mingle with the other teams. Later during the day we were treated to a presentation by Andrew Denford and other engineering professionals. They told us all about the incredible technicalities of a Formula 1 race, as well as the surprising similarities between Formula 1 and F1 in Schools. It was an intriguing presentation, and one which did not go without a massive ‘happy birthday’ to one of the engineers.
Today was also the day for the ‘Team Networking Lunch’. As lunch was served, teams were encouraged to exchange gifts, flyers, business cards and other promotional items with other teams in the competition. It was the best opportunity yet to get to know the people from all the nations that we are competing against. In a competition like F1 in Schools, it is important to be friendly with, and be knowledgeable of our competition. Yes, one of the reasons we are here is to compete for awards, but the more valuable lessons to be learned are all about the experience and meeting new people. So, as with almost every other competitor, we are all for supporting and being friendly with everyone else in the competition, and this Networking Lunch was very important for this.
In the afternoon, all the teams were taken to the ‘Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque’ for an exclusive tour. The mosque was an incredible sight. It had perfectly white tall pillars and domes, ‘garnished’ with golden accents. Upon entry, we were reminded that all women must have covered heads, arms and legs, and the men must have covered legs and sleeved tops, all out of respect for the Islamic traditions.
We were led on a brief tour of the corridors and the incredible prayer hall, which features the world’s largest hand-stitched carpet, that can accommodate up to 8,000 people for prayer. It was interesting to learn that this prayer hall is only for men, and women in fact pray in a private room.
So with that, we concluded our tour, but not without a lovely ‘Team Australia’ photo in front of the 3rd largest mosque in the world:
We headed back to the Radisson, and headed straight to the Mezzanine to find out whether or not our car had breached any critical regulations. To our relief, our car was fine, and no critical regulations had been broken!
In the later evening, we all headed down to the Yas Marina for a Lebanese dinner. As with all our dinners and lunches, it was one filled with deep conversations and excellent banter.
Tomorrow sees Day 1 of the actual competition in Ferrari World. We have an early start, beginning with the setup of our booth, and judging in the evening.
After a 14 hour flight with minimal sleep, plenty of strange theories and incredible Etihad cabin crew, the team arrived in Abu Dhabi at 0455 local time. The flight brought a little surprise, as the Leading Steward, who had discovered our involvement in F1, provided us with Business Class meals, as a celebratory token from Etihad.
On the flight with us were the other Australian teams coming to the competition (Southern Cross Racing from Barker, and Gamma Rayzing from Magdalene Catholic High School) who, over their time competing in the F1 in Schools against Newington, have become both our greatest rivals and greatest friends. It’s been great to see that some of the competitive edge and hostility that has been in recent communications with these teams has been dropped now that we are here competing together as Australia.
In an effort to reset our body clocks to the new time zone, we spent the day out and about rather than resting. We spent several hours checking out the main local malls. Perhaps the biggest culture shock was not the traditional Middle Eastern aspect of the country, but that the country is so incredibly Western influenced. The brands, stores, malls and architecture are all so reminiscent of Western design. To put it simply, it feels a lot like America with Arabic written all over it. After some light shopping and gathering some basic resources, we returned to the hotel and checked into our rooms. Mr. Pyne took it upon himself to demonstrate his incredible abdomen to those down near the pool, whilst Mr. Honeywill kept the Sydney support crew up to date. The team set about final preparations of the booth after meeting up with Anton, who had flown in a day earlier with his family. Ashan and Felix set ourselves to editing the media and preparing this post. Tomorrow, our Scottish counterparts (Amie, Louise, Mel and Kiera) will arrive, and we shall continue with more involved and collaborative preparations, like the verbal presentation. Impact is scheduled to register at 12:30pm tomorrow, so all our cars and portfolios must be perfectly completed by then.
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Stay tuned, and we will update you tomorrow on our progress!