Interview with PUT Motorsport team
The team comprises a mixture of about sixty students representing nine different departments of Poznań University of Technology. Working as a team we can reach our goals and dreams, which individually cannot be achieved – that is what PUT Motorsport from Poznań say about themselves.
Tubes International: You have divided your team into project groups dealing with engine, electrical system, suspension, chassis and aerodynamics. What can you tell about them?
PUT Motorsport: As in each smaller or bigger company, as it is in our case, that we have a system for organising the work of the whole team. The project groups, you mentioned, are part of the Technical Group. They design particular elements of the racing car construction from scratch (design phase) and then manufacture these elements (production phase). They make every effort to prepare the racing car for dynamic events. The Formula Student competition comprises a combination of dynamic and static events.
Likewise, they carry out some research, such as torsional rigidity testing or engine dyno testing on already existing race cars, in order to gather even more data on the vehicle whose development is underway, and then after an in-depth analysis of these findings, we are be able to build more reliable, innovative cars.
There is another group worth mentioning here – just as important for the whole team, it is Marketing Group. Marta Lewandowska, our coordinator, often calls us “Operations Department”, because what we do, frequently goes beyond simple marketing operations. This part of the team must continuously search for new Project Partners, maintain ongoing relations with an existing group of Sponsors. We are responsible for handling the finances of the project, knowing that a well-balanced budget is the background for a successful business venture. Today, invoices and bookkeeping are the words we actually know too well. We also promote our team in the social media (Facebook, Instagram, newsletter publications) and arrange to visit many different engineering fairs – we often accompany our Partners and attract visitors to their booths. For us, it is the way of saying “thank you” for the support we get throughout the year.
The Marketing Group prepares Cost Report and Business Plan Presentation for the static events of the competition, where they are asked to demonstrate to the judges the cost calculations for the manufacturing of a racing car and to present a viable business model based on our Formula Student class racing car. There is no doubt, that both well-defined work system and clear-cut task assignment are absolutely necessary to reach the goals that we set.
TI: Participation in Formula Student is your goal. Tell me about your previous competitions? How was it? What have you learnt? What was your best experience?
PM: Formula Student is a huge scale project. It brings together thousands of young engineers from around the world. Each student participating in this phenomenal venture has an opportunity, probably one and only, to experience so diverse challenges during the course of studies. It is a kind of hands-on experience, where we can develop both typical technical skills as well as soft skills. We can list such skills as for instance: team working in a large group, work under time constraints, providing solutions to multiple problems – there are so many of them I cannot even count. In this way, we are being best prepared to start our professional career, regardless of the branch we choose.
However, going back to the competition – it is the culmination of a whole year’s effort, where our hard work is thoroughly verified and tested. To get your “entrance pass” for virtually each series of Formula Student competition, you must take a qualifying round, that means, you have to pass a registration quiz, which is usually held more or less a half year before the event. Building a race car is not enough. We started this really hectic period for good as early as December, when we got down to training and strategy development. The quiz is based on the official FS regulations. The team must answer all questions correctly in the shortest possible time – timing is a key factor here. Up to now, we have taken part in the competitions in England (IMechE Formula Student), in Germany (Formula Student Germany), in Hungary ( Formula Student Hungary), in Austria (Formula Student Austria) and in the Czech Republic (Formula Student Czech Republic).
As a team with a relatively brief history, we are pretty successful. In 2015, we won “Best Newcomer Award”. That competitions and that award were an excellent opening for us. To keep up the momentum in the following season (2016), the managers proved themselves in the static events and they won our first epic trophy – a podium finish with third place in Business Plan Presentation. One year later, we almost got to the podium during the competitions at the Silverstone Circuit in England. We were placed 5th overall and 3rd in Acceleration, a dynamic event, thus beating the teams with the experience in the competitions exceeding twenty years even. It was an enormous achievement for us.
Here, some of our team members describe their impressions of the competition:
My first competition was at the same time my first encounter with the queen of motorsport – the day we arrived, Williams team car was tested at the Silverstone Circuit . The fact that our racing car was in such a company, combined with an incredible climate of the place and overwhelming spirit of the competitions, together made an unforgettable experience and a mind-blowing shot of motivation for the months to come.
The competition is a reward for extremely hard, several-months effort. I will never forget the emotions at the Silverstone Circuit during the official presentation lap of all race cars: the pride I felt when I saw Cybina! Tears of joy when we reached the podium on that legendary racing track is something I will never forget. In such moments you realise, that you just managed to achieve something, that had seemed impossible – together with our amazing Partners. As a person responsible for this part of the project I am extremely proud of the set of logotypes we show on our race car – quite a few world-class teams envy such an outstanding group of Partners.
My role during the FS competitions was to capture the performance of my teammates as a film-maker and news photographer. An event of such prestige and scale gave me a unique chance to take some dynamic shots from the track, to capture backstage events, that the audience could not see, but most importantly, to capture all different emotions in the faces of students from all around the globe. Taking part in the competitions allowed me to get experience in unpredictable sports photography and to enrich our team photo albums with hundreds of fantastic shots from the track and pit stops.
Formula Student competition is a huge challenge, and pleasure at the same time. Though, acting as a driver, you take competition experience to even higher level. The fact, that you can drive the racing car built by yourself and your friends is a great honour. You can experience the same sensations, one gets driving the top production racing cars. On the other hand, it is taking the responsibility for the effort of 30 young engineers or for the expectations of the sponsors. These are the drivers themselves who are largely responsible for the overall performance of the team in the competitions. Pressure connected to this task is huge and you have deal with it, because only then a driver can meet all the expectations and do the best one can. Despite much greater responsibility and wider scope of duties, it is definitely an adventure, which teaches you a lot, while having the best time of your life.
Hmm… competition? For me it was a reward for all the time and energy I spent on the project (often working till late night hours), one might say, it was a kind of holiday. Yet, it was a break from physical labour, and certainly not a psychic rest. An event of this magnitude is an experience full of emotions, extreme feelings, where both success and failure may become the motivation for further work. Not always everything works, failure is just as important. At the end, a man learns from his own mistakes. There is a really special atmosphere at the competitions. We all are as busy as bees, giving each other support in both rough and cheerful moments. The competitions and work on the project allowed us to form a family – a family who built a racing car.
TI: How would you summarise 2017 season?
PM: The season of 2017 was definitely a turning point for our team. Cybina, the third race car, is our engineering dream come true. We manufactured a robust and reliable construction, which easily proved, what it is capable of. Year of hard work, full of sacrifice, resulted in another achievement important for us. As I said earlier, we were really close getting the podium in one of the most prestigious FS competition in Great Britain. We were placed 5th overall at the Silverstone Circuit and reached the podium, 3rd place to be precise, in the Acceleration event. I must add, that as many as eighty teams from all around the world took part in that series. Any of my teammates had not even dreamt, that we would perform so well having hardly any experience. Those results are a driving force of our team, making us work harder and set further, more ambitious goals. However, it is the committed team that we are particularly proud of. The number of hours spent on working together, solving problems together but first of all, the goal we have been aiming at as a team – they have made us become a big family, who builds another racing car together.
TI: What are your plans for 2018?
PM: The next project involves making improvements to the latest car – Cybina. Richer with fresh knowledge and technical data gathered during the competitions, we want to brush up the dynamic suspension model and characteristics of power transmission system. We still have been reducing the weight of the whole race car. We would like to better optimize the technology behind the components, so when it is added to finishing the design phase, we will be able to make the test phase longer. Increasing the amount of time that we spend on testing the car on a test track or dynamometer allows making even more improvements to this newly developed construction but also removing all deficiencies that we discover during these tests. It will undoubtedly boost the results we get in the dynamic events. Building the fully reliable race car, with which we will able to get the scores better than we have got so far – this is our goal. We can tell you in secret, that we are also taking some steps to build the race car with an electric drive.
TI: Can you please tell something more about Warta, Wilda and Cybina. How are they different? Why are they named like that?
PM: When comparing our three “babies”, we can spot many differences. First and foremost, the technical progress which took place between the development of each car is unimaginable.
Warta, the first racing car, can be considered as the basis for the development. It did not have a full aerodynamic package, however weighing about two hundred and fifty kilograms, it performed relatively well. It accelerated to 100 km/h in 4,5 seconds and produced a power of 70 HP.
Wilda is our second race car. This car was the most technologically advanced amongst all our vehicles. Unfortunately, because of the number of innovative solutions we had implemented, its failure rate was very high. And yet, even then our design engineers managed to boost its performance compared to the previous season. They cut the weight down almost by forty kilograms, whereas the acceleration to 100 km/h was roughly 4,1 seconds at 90 HP.
Our latest car, Cybina – our dark horse. Its performance at the competition does not need lengthy description. Cybina was just incredible. Here, we can see further weight reduction in comparison to Wilda, which translates into acceleration to 100 km/h in 3,9 second (as Aston Martin V12 Vantage S, Porsche 911 Carrera 2017). We have managed to reduce the acceleration time by 0,6 second so far, which does not seem to be much, though it is an immense progress.
Answering your question: As for choosing the names for our racing cars, obviously we decided to use the city, in which they are developed, as a theme. Warta is called after the name of the main river flowing through Poznań. The second name is Wilda. It is the name of the city district where our workshop is based, in which we build our constructions from scratch. The third name, Cybina, comes from another river, more specifically, tributary of the Warta River. The name of our fourth vehicle is still a mystery. Try to solve it.
TI: It was really nice talking to you. Thank you.
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