A pupil with a passion for engineering was one of five lucky youngsters to win a day with Formula 1 racing legends.
Oakham School pupil James Dermott, 17, was one of five winners of a competition held by the Arkwright Scholarship scheme, which he and four fellow pupils were awarded at the beginning of the academic year.
James had to write a paper that demonstrated his passion for Formula 1 engineering. For his prize, he began the day in Milton Keynes, with a visit to the Infiniti Red Bull Racing factory. Beginning with a tour, the group encountered the inner workings of the factory, from engineer Adrian Newey’s drawing board to team principal Christian Horner’s office.
After exploring the vast aerodynamic design department, as well as hydraulics, chassis, test and CFD (computational fluid dynamics), James and his fellow winners took a short minibus ride to the home of British Motorsport.
At Silverstone, the group were fortunate enough to be allowed into the Infiniti Red Bull Racing garage whilst practice sessions were taking place, a privilege that few can boast.
The pupils were able to listen in to the team radio and hear comments and suggestions from the drivers and engineers.
They were then able to go outside to see the cars live in action on the track. James described how “the cars stopped, turned and went faster than one’s mind can comprehend.
“As the cars broke traction, lit up their rear wheels and drifted around the 130mph final corner, it was difficult not to respect the drivers of these 800 horsepower beasts.”
The day finished at dinner with Formula 1 legend David Coulthard. James described the experience as “an absolute pleasure” where “we talked about everything from his career to our future ones.”
James added: “It was an opportunity of a lifetime. A fantastic day, a fantastic experience, but most importantly a fantastic inspiration.”
Providing inspiration is one of the key aims of the Arkwright Scholarship. It is a national award that identifies, inspires and nurtures future leaders in engineering and related areas of design.
As well as the valuable recognition, scholars also receive a £600 financial award to help with the cost of materials, and they have access to a range of enrichment events such as engineering experience days.