x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Wooden F1 car covers 20 metres in just 1.4 seconds

Six pupils from Impulse Dubai College armed with one balsa wood model aim to lift the international F1 in Schools trophy in Singapore on Wednesday.

Abdullah Mohammed, left, and Mohammed Al Halaby test their reaction times by trigger starting the cars. F1 in Schools Centre, Dubai Autodrome.
Abdullah Mohammed, left, and Mohammed Al Halaby test their reaction times by trigger starting the cars. F1 in Schools Centre, Dubai Autodrome.

While most of his classmates spent the summer relaxing, there was no let-up for Dominic Palubiski. Instead of lounging on a beach, the 16-year-old pupil and five of his classmates sweated for hours to propel a tiny balsa wood car along a 20-metre track in under two seconds. If the team's efforts work out, the Impulse Dubai College team could lift the international F1 in Schools trophy in Singapore on Wednesday.

In June, Impulse beat 10 other UAE schools for the right to go to Singapore. This week they face 24 other teams from around the world. Each group of between three and six members, aged from nine to 19, will have to present a "Formula 1 team", complete with a miniature balsawood F1 car, a budget, designs and even a marketing plan. The car must race a straight 20-metre track powered by a single compressed air cylinder. In the national heat, Impulse's car did it in 1.4 seconds.

The team left for Singapore on Friday. Today they were due to meet last year's winners, Ireland's Koni Cats, in Singapore, and hope to get some last-minute tips. "You have to check everything over and over again," said Eoin O'Connell, 19, a member of last year's Irish team. "That is what the UAE teams should be doing. Preparation and getting it right are critical." Dominic said his team have revisited every aspect of the project over the summer. "We made some considerable changes to its [the car's ]design, weight and aerodynamics."

They even reshaped the fins that project from the car's nose to make it more aerodynamic. They worked on other aspects, too, including the eight-minute presentation they will have to give. "We changed our portfolio and kept checking over everything to make sure it was right." However, he admitted: "We won't know until later this week if we have made our car faster." Also in Singapore will be a team drawn both from a school in Brisbane, Australia, and June's UAE runners-up, 540 Yea, from the Indian High School in Dubai.

The competition will be tough, but Dominic is confident of victory. "From what we saw today, there are two or three cars that will be a challenge to us, but we will win it," he said. eharnan@thenational.ae