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Thread: 2016 Formula Student Germany

  1. #41
    Michtell,

    the flaw in your analysis is, that Germany has like 100-ish teams. Even if they would make up the whole Top20, they only had 20% of their teams in the Top20...

    Guys,

    why I and (probably Thijs as well) brought up Monash is because they were once the badest guys in town. I mean we feared that winged Monster.
    Without Monash and the awesomeness of their guys, our aero package back in 2012 would have been a shit show. I learned so much from Marc Russouw and Scott and all those guys.
    Just seeing them not able to compete for a Top5 in AutoX or the out-right win in SkidPad.. that just "feels wrong".

    The thing is, at the moment I don't see any non-German-cluster (NL,GER,AT,CH) team that is able to win a competition without the issues of one of those teams. You can argue all day long, but if the likes of Stuttgart, Munich, Karlsruhe, Delft, Zurich or Graz are in town, there is no American (w/o GFR), no British, no Australian, no Japanese team out there that can stop them, which is kind of sad.
    Monash was once this "exception". Maybe now it is ECU.

    Of course a lot of teams can run in the Top20, but that's just a different ball game.
    The best "non-German/austrian" team at FSG Combustion was Hertfordshire in P14. They were 11seconds off-pace in AutoX. (9 seconds if they would have not hit a cone in Run 4)

    Maybe in fact we need something to slow these other teams down...
    -------------------------------------------
    Alumnus
    AMZ Racing
    ETH Zürich

    2010-2011: Suspension
    2012: Aerodynamics
    2013: Technical Lead

    2014: FSA Engineering Design Judge

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by JulianH View Post
    Michtell,

    the flaw in your analysis is, that Germany has like 100-ish teams. Even if they would make up the whole Top20, they only had 20% of their teams in the Top20...
    So that's why I failed statistics!
    UQ Racing

  3. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by JulianH View Post
    Maybe in fact we need something to slow these other teams down...
    Our uni thinks they are generous in granting us $5000 AUD, which *just* covers our entry to the Aus competition.

    Rumors on the grapevine are that Stuttgart run on nearly $600,000 AUD.

    I have no idea what their experience of Formula-SAE is. But I imagine they are not 'wasting' their time chasing sponsors, doing fundraisers and raffles and having to purchase items using personal student funds in order to make it through a year.

    Frankly what we've been able to do with $5000 of university funding is something I'm proud of, but it would certainly be more competitive if every team was restricted in their funding. Food for thought....
    Adam Flower
    Head Engineer, 2015, 2016
    Ergonomics Team Leader, 2014
    UTAS Motorsport
    Tasmania

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by JulianH View Post
    The best "non-German/austrian" team at FSG Combustion was Hertfordshire in P14. They were 11seconds off-pace in AutoX. (9 seconds if they would have not hit a cone in Run 4)
    Here's a question for everyone then. If the next best car is 9 seconds off the pace. What are technical reasons for that?
    Is the engineering just all round not as good?
    Is it because they haven't got tons of money to spend on carbon tubs?
    Is it more likely to be driver skill, because UK teams don't get their cars built on time?
    Do they not know how to set up their car?
    Are their wishbones wobbly on German soil?
    Dunk
    --------------------------------------------------------
    Brunel Racing
    2010-11 - Drivetrain Development Engineer
    2011-12 - Consultant and Long Distance Dogsbody
    2012-13 - Chassis, Bodywork & Aerodynamics manager

    2014-present - Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover

  5. #45
    Adam,

    I'm quite sure Stuttgart is not running on 400.000 EUR... Maybe both Stuttgart teams combined.
    Zurich was probably one of the "richest" teams out there when I was part of it, but we were nowhere even close to that number. Not even close to half.

    Dunk,

    I of course don't have the answer, but some observations from the last years, that could explain some "performance deltas" between a generic "top team" and a "mid tier team":
    1) They are happy with things are. Like Adam said, they take the money from the university and stick to the budget. The good team is out there making publicity, pitching to dozens of sponsors and GETS the money or even better, the parts, the machining time, the wind tunnel hours.
    Zurich never had A PENNY from ETH. All is from sponsors. We just run around like idiots every year to keep sponsors happy. One of our main sponsors since 2010 wanted to quite 3 times, it is still around.

    2) Fast teams care about one thing. Winning. They don't give a damn if the fastest driver does not show up to clean the workshop. Hell, if the guy doing the homepage is the fastest guy out there, I put him in the car.
    I saw a lot of people talking that they put the "most hard working people" in the car. That's not the way to go.

    3) Having the car finished early is a good thing, yes. But I think our friends from Delft had Shakedowns in the week of the first competition and still were at the top...

    4) Building concepts that are not made to win. Sorry but if you turn up with a 250kg 1cylinder car, you are not going to win. Period.
    When I was doing Design Judging I had at least 70% of the teams which goal was NOT winning. But like "ohhh we want to finish Endurance". Come on, this is a prerequist, not a goal.

    5) People are too proud to copy. I know it is an Engineering competition and this is probably not the way to go to be super good in Engineering Design. But copying a successful concept from the last season gives you a rather good starting point for the future and the next generations can pick up on that.

    6) Knowledge transfer. If I remember correctly some teams start absolutely from scratch EVERY year. Of course there is no trajectory...

    7) I managed the AMZ Facebook Account for a couple of years and as team leader I also got the mails "to the team". What people are asking there is just ridiculous. Some just want a turn-key answer for their upright or motor or aero package.
    Someone asked me once to run a CFD simulation for him. Some teams don't take the whole thing too serious. Which is fine, but that does not bring you to the top.

    8) People like to have FSAE on their resume but still want good grades because then you are the perfect candidate for the automotive industry. This is tough for the most of us. So they cannot put too much effort in it. Reduced effort normally means reduced performance.

    9) Rigor in team structure. Some teams are more tough on working hours vs. fun hours..

    10) I think quoting yourself "the best team from XY" (I even saw IMechE quoting the Xth placed British car "The winner"...) does not really help.. You are the best in the competition or not.

    11) I think some people just "elevate" the whole team to another level. You need those to start a streak of success. We had 2-3 "old guys" that shaped the team in the crucial 2nd-4th season of the team. They started a lot of good initiatives and still are the grumpy old guys during team meetings and everyone is afraid to pitch their designs to them... they do really help A LOT.


    There are potentially a million more tiny reasons that apply to some but not all teams.

    By the way, our budget in 2009 was really small as we lost a lot of support in our third year. We had a team of 6-8 people and build a sub 200kg 4cyl 13inch combustion car that ran Accel sub 4s and was 3rd in FSUK.
    That was 7 years ago and I am sure that this thing still would outperform a lof of "new" cars on fresh rubber.
    Last edited by JulianH; 08-19-2016 at 11:15 AM.
    -------------------------------------------
    Alumnus
    AMZ Racing
    ETH Zürich

    2010-2011: Suspension
    2012: Aerodynamics
    2013: Technical Lead

    2014: FSA Engineering Design Judge

  6. #46
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    Julien,

    I think you have hit the nail on the head (Post before the last one). Currently the top group of teams are the likes of Stuttgart, Munich, Karlsruhe, Delft, Zurich, Graz and GFR. Outside of that group the level drops of very quickly regardless of nation of origin. Previously we have had teams like RIT, Georgia Tech, UTA and Cornell. After that Woolongong, RMIT, UWA. Good teams, just like in most sports, tend to cluster as the high performance of locals is often more motivating than those far away. It is one reason why we see siblings competing at high level sport together. They just push each other to higher achievements.

    At the moment the "German" cluster is on top. These teams have a good understanding of the car and team required to win the competition in the current state. They should be held up as the current gold standard and a target should be painted on their backs. But not all German teams are at this level, nor should we expect it. Furthermore it has only been like this for the last 5-6 years. Lets discuss again when we see what the next 10 years of formula bring. Once competitive teams like UWA have disappeared as the Universities pulled support. Others are successful while a certain group of people (drivers/designers/managers) are around before culture is lost. Even once almost unbeatable teams like Cornell now linger well down the world rankings.

    Consider the poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley with the words on the pedestal of the fallen statue:

    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!


    ...

    Personally I am proud of what is happening to the Australian competition at the moment. Things have got a lot closer since Claude last attended an Oz comp, with a number of teams improving dramatically. It is still not at the top level, but teams like Auckland and Canterbury with an EV system would be scary. Auckland has been building very light cars for quite a while and Canterbury's car (after a very short life of the team) has amazing dynamic behaviour. There has been a big improvement in attitude in just the last few years, with teams once happy to finish in 5th place in the Oz comp now trying to take a win. There was a vacuum formed by the massive drop in performance by UWA, RMIT, and Woolongong from 2008/2009 onwards. Monash have done amazingly during that period, but for most of that time were the only top level team of the whole comp. That looks almost certain to end very soon if not this year.

    However, I find this whole line of thinking nationalistic crap. The reason we see so many German's winning is not because Germany is a much better country for engineering, or its people are superhuman logical brains without a need for emotion. It is because Stuttgart, Munich etc are amazing teams who have got on top of their competitors. They don't win because they are German, they win because of hard work, good organisation, creativity, good competition, and decent resources. I hope we see Australian teams in the same position in the future, but we could see the next set of great teams from China, the UK, Japan, US, Italy or just about any country capable of producing decent education outcomes and industry backing.

    Kev
    Last edited by Kevin Hayward; 08-19-2016 at 11:07 AM.

  7. #47
    I was going to make the same point as Julian about those statistics, with the added example of Austria and the Netherlands having 100% of their teams in the top 20 in the most recent FSE list, and in the new rankings (with Vienna having switched to FSE a few years ago), so will Austria in the FSC list (probably).
    No idea what that's supposed to indicate though, wildly differing sample sizes per country just screw up the analysis.

    Also, I definitely didn't mean to bash Monash or anything. I was just trying to put things in context relative to their previous performances, which were impressive.
    For what it's worth, I had a nice talk with a couple of the Monash guys at FSG, and thought it was nice that they've been working on a UWA-style suspension. It's a cool engineering project for sure.


    Quote Originally Posted by Adman View Post
    Rumors on the grapevine are that Stuttgart run on nearly $600,000 AUD.
    I have to be blunt. This sounds like something teams say to lull themselves to sleep, arguing that they really tried everything but they just can't compete with those rich guys.
    This often enough from teams that struggle to finish all dynamics, as if you'd need a couple of hundreds of thousands of euros/dollars to build a car that can do that.

    I stumbled upon an article last year that contained this gem:

    Last year’s winning Dutch team from Delft Technical University, who won in 2014 with their €1M electrical car, were also competing this year – complete with a trailer workshop.
    Many German and Swiss entries exceeded project costs of €500k, fully supported by healthy investments from their Universities.
    Here's a newspaper that presents as fact the idea that Delft spends the equivalent of 1,500,000 AUD on their car. It then implies that the team gets this money from their university.
    Although we don't want to be too secretive about it, we've agreed in Delft to not fully disclose the yearly budget. However, maybe we (and other 'rich' teams) should, just to battle these rumors, as I don't think it's healthy for the competition.
    I can comfortably say though, that the budget is absolutely nowhere near €500k, let alone €1M. I can't speak for any of the Stuttgart teams of course, but I imagine that goes for them too.

    Think about it, what would any FS team even spend that kind of money on? Not on the trailer workshop: all that stuff (truck, trailer, machines) is borrowed from sponsors and university.
    Not on the car either. You certainly don't need that kind of money to build a winning FSAE car.
    Do you think a public university would spend such amounts on something that benefits less than 100 students a year?

    By far the largest chunk of the money in Delft comes from companies. The university's support is very valuable, but mostly takes the form of providing the team with space to design and build their car.
    That being said, I realize that some teams may benefit from being one of the few in their quite rich country (Zürich, Delft) and/or being stationed near an automotive powerhouse (teams like Stuttgart), and that they'll certainly have more money than most.
    I really respect teams that manage to build a driving car with a few thousands of dollars, or a competitive one with a budget in the low tens of thousands. Unfortunately I'm not sure that's currently possible in FS Electric.


    To address Nathan's point from earlier:
    In Delft we have a pretty big team of about 70 team members, the vast majority BSc students. Of those, about 50-55 are completely new to the team each year. Roughly 60 design and build the car part time, in the evenings and the weekends.
    Managing such a big group takes a lot of overhead, so there's about a 10 people group (some of them with previous experience on the team, others without) that 'get a year off' (they still have to pay tuition, but it's not that expensive in the Netherlands). They don't get any credit for it either though, it's just that you don't get kicked out of school for not taking any exams for 12 months.
    I would argue that yes, they definitely are students, in the sense that they certainly aren't professionals either, and none of them have finished their degrees.
    I would argue that the strength of the Delft team does not lie in this team structure. In fact I think that with 20 full time guys it would be much easier to build a competitive car.
    Delft's strength (and no doubt the strength of other successful teams), is that alumni stick around and stay involved. We (the alumni) don't want to make design choices. Rather, we aim to hand the (often quite inexperienced) teams the tools to find the answers for themselves.
    We encourage them to, at least in the conceptual phase, start from scratch. Later on, we'll give feedback on the designs they've come up with, so the team won't make mistakes we've seen before. Many of the involved alumni still are students themselves btw.
    For what it's worth, we've never had a faculty adviser in the classical sense. So for things like setting out a multi-year course, the team has always had to depend on alumni that had more of an overview of where the team and the competition was than did one-year team members.

    Is this in the spirit of Formula Student? I would say absolutely. Invariably, students that have been part of the team indicate that their year of Formula Student has been the most educational experience of their college education.
    This is especially true for members in full time positions, who for the first time in their lives have had to take on a rather comprehensive managing role.
    Is this a level playing field? Probably not. But that is the case anyway, for many different reasons.

    One of the goals for the Delft team (as envisioned by alumni and the university) is to provide an educational experience as valuable as possible for as many people as possible.
    Something that can be both a useful tool for that as well as a possible outcome from that, is the process of building a fast or even winning car.
    Leveling the playing field in the FSAE competition ranks relatively low on our list to be honest.
    Last edited by Thijs; 08-20-2016 at 05:37 AM.
    Alumnus
    Formula Student Team Delft

    2007 - 2008: Powertrain, Suspension
    2009: Technical Lead
    2010 - present: Grumpy Old Fart/Concerned Citizen

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by Adman View Post
    Rumors on the grapevine are that Stuttgart run on nearly $600,000 AUD.
    And do you believe those rumours? Surely not?

    8-10 years ago TU Graz won everything and their cars looked like jewels "because Red Bull sponsored them for a million euros" (bollocks, of course).
    A year ago there was an article on a UK website spreading the same rumor, about Delft this time.

    It's all bs. I don't have access to Stuttgart's budget. I can however tell you that we were FSG combustion champions in 2010 on a budget closer to one tenth of what your rumors say about Stuttgart. We had to buy a second hand dirtbike because it was the only way to get our hands on an engine. I have no reason to believe that other top teams were running shockingly higher budgets. Things may have changed for electric teams (more expensive cars and easier fund-raising) but the popular gossips are, as always, not realistic - especially for combustion teams. Actually I don't even know what on earth you would do with 400.000 euros for 1 combustion car!

    It's not about the money. There is one resource in Formula Student which is more important than all others: time. In that respect I do think Delft and some of the German teams have an advantage compared to the others. Those universities treat their FS teams as flag bearers and happily support a limited number of students to delay their studies to take charge of such a project. The university rightly sees this as a benefit to themselves in the end.

    It hasn't always been that way. The Delft team started as a student initiative that was able to convince uni to give them more support as the years went by. Maybe a different academic culture makes this difficult in other countries, but my advice would be to try year in year out to show your uni that what you are doing is benefiting them, by creating better engineers, getting closer ties with industry and helping recruit new freshmen. Your goal should not primarily be to squeeze more money out of uni, but for them to support you in spending a lot of time on this project.
    Last edited by JasperC; 08-19-2016 at 11:36 AM.
    DUT Racing Team (Delft) 2008-2010

  9. #49
    Ooops, what have I done!

    Rereading my post, it sounds more like a whinge which is certainly not how I intended it. Funding certainly doesn't build you a racecar entirely, but a cushion to sit on is nice!

    I agree with you Thijs when you say some teams would treat it as an excuse as to why they performed badly. If anything when our team hears these things we use them as motivation - like I said, what we can do on a very limited budget gives us confidence that we are at least making the best of our limited situation.

    Julian nails pretty much all points on the head when it comes to those top team advantages, and there's no way to limit those. If you're making the effort to nail those key points then you definitely deserve to win!
    Adam Flower
    Head Engineer, 2015, 2016
    Ergonomics Team Leader, 2014
    UTAS Motorsport
    Tasmania

  10. #50
    Adam,

    I didn't think your post was particularly whiny

    It's just that I've heard similar rumors so many times over the years and it always annoys me.
    1. because it diminishes the accomplishments of the teams that supposedly get those amounts of money, when in fact they have to work very hard to convince sponsors, and it's still only a fraction of the amount.
    2. (much more importantly) because it might convince some others that they can't win anyway, and yet others to therefore not even (really) try

    cheers!
    Alumnus
    Formula Student Team Delft

    2007 - 2008: Powertrain, Suspension
    2009: Technical Lead
    2010 - present: Grumpy Old Fart/Concerned Citizen

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