The Edinburgh team behind Scotland’s first electric Formula 1 car

HWRacing at Heriot-Watt University is the first team in Scotland to develop an electric Formula style car.

The university’s team compete annually at the Formula Student competition in Silverstone, “The Home of British Racing”, against universities from around the world.

The competition is for student engineers to design, create and build a single-seat racing car and allows students from around the world to work at industry standard for motorsports.

Currently, the car is still in the design phase with the motor, which currently can reach speeds of 150 mph- though will raced at a much lower speed, and chassis completed, but with just under 180 days until the summer competition, the team are confident they will be finished designing within the coming weeks.

HWRacing have designed and created the car (Credit: EN4News)

The switch to the electric model was about the learning experience according to project manager Craig Hamilton.

“In industry and racing as well, there is a bigger move to electrification.” Hamilton says.

“We’ve moved onto electrification to better prepare our guys for going into the automotive industry with experience of hybrids and electric vehicles. They’ve got fundamental experience that they’re not going to get anywhere else.”

Making Formula style  cars is not an easy or cheap thing to do. The students do receive money from the university, but a lot of the finance comes from sponsors, with more of them coming forward now that the team are going electric. Craig Hamilton estimated that it will cost £55,000 to develop the entire car, yet the cost is being offset by bigger interest from sponsorships with the team going green.

On top of the difference in the mechanics between internal combustion, “the car is going to be heavier, it’s just a fact” Hamilton told EN4 News, yet they say it not one of their major concerns.

Speaking to the team technical director and driver, Ewan Smith, there is excitement within the team for being the first team in Scotland to make the shift, but there are high expectations with the electric car, as in theory should be faster than combustible engine.

“There’s definitely a bit of pressure on my shoulders to sort of be the ones representing Scotland’s shift to electric.”

HWRacing is not the only university to consider the electric approach, with both Edinburgh and Strathclyde planning on going electric in future years. In other international competitions similar to Formula Student, combustible engine cars are planning on being phased out for electric by 2023.

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