Hot engines, innovative design and sophisticated technology. Every year, the dream of a self-made racing car starts and finds the season highlight at the Formula 1 racetrack at the Hockenheimring.
At Formula Student, students build a one-seat race car to compete against teams from around the globe. The competition is won not only by the team with the fastest car, but by the team with the best overall package. This includes the design and performance of the vehicle as well as the financial and sales planning of the entire racing team. The team members are faced with the challenge of incorporating the experience in engineering and production and taking into account the economic aspects of the automotive industry. In addition to the good driving characteristics of the racing car such as acceleration, breaking and handling, the vehicle should also be offered at a commercially available price on a fictitious market. In addition, the market value of the car increases due to additional factors such as aesthetics, comfort and the use of innovative materials. The decision will be made by a jury of experts from the fields of motorsport, automotive and the supplier industry. This jury evaluates each team's car and sales plan based on design, cost planning, and sales presentation. The rest of the scoring is made on the track. In a series of performance tests, the students show how well their self-built race cars perform.
BASF has been sponsoring several race teams for many years. The type of sponsorship is versatile, from financial support to the implementation and evaluation of crash tests to consulting on business plans. In 2019, BASF 3D Printing Solutions (3DPS) awarded the Vellore VIT team a Special Award for the best use of 3D-printed components. In addition, BASF is always showcasing at the event days the use of BASF materials in the automotive industry and provides information at an own booth. Exhibits from a wide range of units illustrate BASF's multifaceted role in the automotive industry, while personal discussions can also clarify career opportunities.
BASF will continue to support student teams in the Formula Student competition. With the increasing importance of future mobility and sustainability, the automotive industry provides an attractive application potential for BASF materials. Electric powertrains already play an important role in the racing teams sponsored by BASF. In future, sponsorship will place even more emphasis on innovative drivetrains and sustainability.
Since 2012, BASF's Performance Materials division has been sponsoring various racing teams at Formula Student. Besides the support for crash tests and material testing, the material experts provide many useful advices about plastic applications as well as the properties of the products. The race event at the Hockenheimring in Germany had to be cancelled due to pandemics in 2020. Nevertheless, many student teams are again working, developing and testing to get a competitive car on the track for the race week in August 2021. At the beginning of the new racing series, we spoke with Hans-Peter Beringer, Vice President Business Management Transportation Europe, about the sponsorship of the teams and BASF's commitment to Formula Student.
How did the intensive collaboration with the teams start?
For us, as a chemical company and material supplier, the automotive industry is one of the most important customer segments. For years, BASF has focused on sustainability and the development of engineering plastics for alternative automotive powertrains, such as electric motors or fuel cells. This is how we got involved with Formula Student Germany. The young and highly motivated students are working on similar topics and have to put a race car on the track within a year. With our expertise in material solutions, we can provide comprehensive support and accompany exciting development steps. At the same time, our experts get insights into the everyday life of the racing teams and we present BASF as an interesting employer for the time after graduation. Since 2012, we have been supporting not only regional teams around BASF's headquarters in Ludwigshafen, but especially racing teams that focus on sustainability, electromobility and autonomous driving.
The development of a racing car is a long process. How does BASF support before the vehicle is ready for racing on the track?
The support of the individual teams is very different. In some cases, we support the teams in monetary policy. However, it is much more important for us to support the students with our extensive know-how and testing capacities. We want to interact with the teams because there is one thing that connects us: the passion for the automobile. The offers are versatile. In our laboratories we can perform crash tests and check the overall performance of the components. Depending on the application specific requirements, we have a comprehensive portfolio of engineering plastics and polyurethanes, which we recommend for implementation. Our decades of experience in this field enable students to use the right material. In addition to that, we are in close contact at all times on topics such as driving dynamics, powertrains and chassis and offer, among other things, a sustainability and plastics workshop. We also assist in the preparation of the business plan and the cost report. These components are also included in the overall result of the Formula Student. During the event, not only the race performance of the vehicle on the track will be evaluated. In addition to the design of the vehicle, the economic approach with financing and sales planning is also taken into account. A jury, in which our experts are represented, will evaluate the overall package of the different teams. On top, we have awarded the "Best use of fibre reinforced plastics" and "Best use of 3D printing" award at the closing event in recent years.
What applications would be conceivable with BASF materials?
As versatile as the tasks and challenges for the vehicle and the racing teams are, BASF's solutions around the automotive sector are also versatile. The application possibilities of our high-performance plastics range from exterior parts to powertrain components to interior applications, such as polyurethanes for the seat, the steering wheel or the instrument panel. Cellasto jounce bumpers are installed in shock absorbers to ensure maximum driving comfort and safety for the driver. They absorb vibrations and unevenness on the track. BASF also supplies high-quality coating systems and brake fluids such as Hydraulan. Automotive does not end with plastics at BASF. The portfolio is very diverse and includes many other products as well as the corresponding expertise, from our experts. This is something we want to show the students and inspire them.
After graduation, students enter the professional life. What makes BASF, and especially the Performance Materials division, interesting for race- and car-enthusiastic graduates?
BASF offers comprehensive possibilities to enter into various areas of responsibility. Engineering plastics, polyurethanes, catalysts or materials for high-performance batteries, fuels and lubricants or in the Coatings division for automotive coatings. Whether in marketing, sales, research or product development – the tasks are very versatile. Together with suppliers and car manufacturers, we are partners for innovative and new applications. Right now, the automotive industry is developing into one of the most exciting industries. With alternative powertrains, autonomous driving and numerous sustainability topics, there is a lot of dynamic in the industry. Interested beginners are welcome to contact us. Be it via social media, our website or directly at Formula Student Germany at the Hockenheimring in Germany. We are represented there with our own booth and our automotive experts and HR contact persons are looking forward to the exchange.
Please find more information in the INSIDE Automotive Trainee Programm.