This weekend 33 student teams from across the country will compete in the National Finals of the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge, at the Autosport International Show being held at the NEC in Birmingham.

They will race for national victory and the chance to represent the UK in the World Championships, which will be held alongside an international Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2009. The students earned their place at the national finals by taking the chequered flag and winning their respective age group categories at one of the 11 regional finals.

After a six week search for the best young engineering talent in the UK, a total of 11 regional finals and over 200 competing teams, only 33 student teams go through to the UK National Finals, to compete for the UK F1 in Schools crown. Just one team will become national champion, and win through to the 2009 World Championships set to be held at a Formula One Grand Prix, in one of the 18 exotic locations that these glamorous events take place. 

At the World Championships teams from around the globe will compete to win the Bernie Ecclestone World Championship Trophy and secure a coveted scholarship at City University London to study Automotive Engineering, a highly valuable prize which will give the students a firm foundation for an engineering career. 

Andrew Denford, Founder and Chairman of the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge commented ahead of the National Finals, “This year the regional finals have been a tremendous success, the level of competition has risen even higher and the students are even more focused. We've seen some of the most sophisticated engineering designs from these talented youngsters and it gives them their first taste of the rewards that engineering studies can bring. 

“The students work so hard to get to the National finals and its great to see the efforts that they put in to trying to beat all their rival schools and grab a place at the World Championships. The Autosport Show is the perfect venue for us to hold our National finals, as it gives the teams the opportunity to soak up a real, competitive motor racing atmosphere.” 

The 2008 World Championships take place in Malaysia this year during the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. The reigning National Champions, Team Momentum, from the Gryphon School, Dorset, will represent the UK at this event, competing for the prestigious Bernie Ecclestone F1 in Schools World Championship trophy and, more importantly, scholarships to study Automotive Engineering at City University London. 

In 2007 the World Championships were held in Melbourne, Australia and the victors were Team Fuga, from Northern Ireland. They set a new world speed record of 1.020 seconds down the 20-metre race track, and have confirmed they will return in 2008 to defend their title. Last year's National Finalists from the UK were also given an extra prize with a rare opportunity to meet with the F1 teams at this year's Silverstone British Grand Prix, where they rubbed shoulders with many famous personalities including Lewis Hamilton, Bernie Ecclestone and Sir Jackie Stewart. 

The Autosport International Show is the UK's premier Motor racing show; the 2007 event attracted over 50,000 visitors during the two public days. To visit the F1 in Schools national final, head to stand 19001, in hall 19 during Saturday and Sunday, the cars will be racing throughout the two days, and the teams will have full display stands demonstrating their design and engineering process.

The F1 in Schools competition challenges students to design, construct and race a Formula 1 car of the future, made from a block of balsa wood, and powered by a CO2 (carbon dioxide) gas canister. The car is raced over a miniature two lane track and the fastest time is recorded.  

Aside from the on-track action, teams also produce supporting evidence of their design, develop a sponsorship and marketing campaign and create team merchandise, with all these elements the team originally presented with their car in front of a panel of judges at the regional finals. The winning team from each age category then won their place at the national finals, where the level of competition steps up a notch. 

The Challenge, in its eighth year, was introduced to the UK in 2000 and since this time has expanded to 26 countries, with over 7 million students taking part around the globe. Bernie Ecclestone, President and CEO of Formula One Management gave his support to F1 in Schools by granting the challenge a world-wide protected trademark and a new logo in 2005. Since this time the initiative has built close links with teams and personalities within Formula One. 

F1 in Schools is regarded by the Formula One fraternity as a platform for introducing Formula One to a global teen demographic. The student challenge is also helping Formula One shed its image as an elitist sport accessible only to multi-million pound budgets; on the contrary, F1 in Schools is open to any school with access to a simple computer. 

The National Finals take place with the assistance of a host of sponsors and supporters. Amongst these are the IET, Make Your Mark, Jaguar, Denford, City University London, RAE, SEMTA, and KHP Consulting, all of whom are continuing their support of F1 in Schools for the coming year.

This weekend 33 student teams from across the country will compete in the National Finals of the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge, at the Autosport International Show being held at the NEC in Birmingham....

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