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F1 in Schools is an international STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) competition for school children (aged 11–19), in which groups of 3–6 students have to design and manufacture a miniature car out of the official F1 Model Block using CAD/CAM design tools. The cars are powered by CO2 cartridges and are attached to a track by a nylon wire. They are timed from the moment they are launched to when they pass the finish line by a computer.[1]

The cars have to follow extensive regulations, in a similar fashion to Formula 1 (e.g. the wheels of the car must be in contact with the track at all times). The cars are raced on a 20m long track with two lanes, to allow two cars to be raced simultaneously.[2] Software called F1 Virtual Wind Tunnel[3] was designed specifically for the challenge.

The competition is currently operational in over 40 countries.[4] The competition was first introduced in the UK in 1999.[5] The competition’s aim is to introduce younger people to engineering in a more fun environment.[6] The competition is held annually, with Regional and National Finals. The overall winners of the National Finals are invited to compete at the World Finals, which are held at a different location each year, usually held in conjunction with a Formula One Grand Prix. In the UK competition there are 3 classes of entry: Professional Class aimed at 11- to 19-year-olds; Development Class aimed at 11- to 19-year-olds in their first year; and Entry Class aimed at 11- to 14-year-olds.

As of 2023, the F1 in Schools World Champions are Recoil Racing from Marie-Therese-Gymnasium Erlangen, in Germany.

The F1 in Schools World Record was set in 2016 by the Australian team Infinitude and is 0.916 seconds.[7]

After safety issues concerning the use of extended canister chambers coupled with the Launch Energy Recovery System (LERS), the controversial device was banned globally from the 2017 World Finals season onwards, after being innovated in 2014 by Colossus F1.

Denford Ltd. unveiled a new track and timing system that debuted at the 2017 World Finals.[8] All components are now manufactured in-house, resulting in a lower overall cost in comparison to the Pitsco produced track that it succeeds. The track’s launching mechanism has had numerous reliability issues since its introduction.

In 2018, the competition’s logo was updated to incorporate Formula One‘s updated logo. Consequently, the Bernie Ecclestone World Champions trophy was replaced, with the new World Champions trophy incorporating the new logo and the car of the 2017 World Champions, Hyperdrive.

The 2020 F1 in Schools World Finals has been postponed twice due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Finals 2020/21 was held as a virtual event in the UK in June 2021 with 43 competing teams.