Johnny Herbert races at Brands Hatch

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

University of Bolton motorsport engineering students team compete with an ensign Historic F1 car driven by Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert at Brands Hatch

23/8/20 Press release from the University of Bolton

University of Bolton motorsport engineering students team compete with an ensign Historic F1 car driven by Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert at Brands Hatch

University of Bolton students enjoyed a taste of real Formula 1 action as they raced a Historic car at the legendary Brands Hatch Grand prix circuit driven by F1 race winner Johnny Herbert.

The students from the University’s National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME) were part of the team racing a 1981 Ensign 180b historic F1 car.

The sport’s glorious past was revisited at Brands Hatch’s Masters Historic Festival at the weekend (August 22-23) with headline race action from the Masters Historic F1 Championship, featuring mouth-watering machinery from the 1970s and ‘80s.

The car ran faultlessly on the Saturday, qualifying in P4 and raced well to finish fifth, however for race two the car encountered some gear selection problems, so it pitted and adjustments were made but the problem was still evident and the car was retired

The Ensign car has been loaned to the University by Dr Robert (Bob) Fernley, a motor racing veteran with 40 years of experience, who has run teams on both sides of the Atlantic in IndyCar and F1.

Mark Busfield, Director of NCME, who pioneered the course at the University of Bolton with a dedicated team of Industry and academic specialists in 2017, said the Brands Hatch weekend had been a great experience for the students.

“They have had the opportunity to work in the field and understand the pressure and demands of a proper competitive racing environment,” he said.

“We have also been able to   benchmark our performance with other very prestigious historic cars.

“They have all worked extremely hard and with great dedication for the last six weeks, preparing the car for the test and race.

“We must not forget we have had the four students and technical staff involved working daily on campus now for the whole summer break while adhering to our Covid-19 safety measures.

“It is incredible that the students have been involved during these unusual times, and has given the University a good insight to how our new normal practical classes can be run in September.”

Mark added: “We prepared very carefully in advance of the Brands Hatch Masters Historic Festival, but issues crop up in this sport and in many ways it is better for the students so they can experience that firsthand as that is the best way to learn. That is what happens in the real world.

“I would like to say a big thank you to Johnny Herbert and Robert Fernley – without them we would not have been able to do any of this.”

A Sky F1 sports film crew has been following the University of Bolton students for a number of weeks and plans to air a documentary about their ambitious project. In the meantime, a shorter feature is planned to be broadcast on Sky F1 in the next few weeks.

The aim of the Ensign project is to help fully understand the aerodynamic effect of the car through a student scientific programme.

Last month, the car was put through its paces in two days of testing at the Anglesey Circuit in North Wales, where every detail of its performance was monitored and recorded using the latest technology.

Bob, who received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering for his outstanding contribution to automotive engineering from the University of Bolton last year, said: “It has been a great start to this exciting long-term Historic Ensign F1 project and we have achieved a lot in a very short time.

“The students’ ability to learn so quickly has been wonderful to follow. It is rewarding for me to see them develop and benefit from the real-life experience of race team activities and grow into our much-needed motorsport engineers of tomorrow,”

Johnny Herbert, who tested the car and raced it at Brands Hatch, said: “I must say a very big thanks to Bob and the University team. It has been a true pleasure to be part of this programme and reassuring to see the ability of the students.

“It has been nine years since I have raced and I now have the bug again to continue. We had a great test at Anglesey and I really enjoyed driving again at Brands Hatch with so many good and bad memories of my home track.

“I am looking forward to see what further plans Bob has with the University team.”

This is the NCME’s first venture into Formula One with its aerodynamic complexities and it presents a huge challenge for students.

They will be attempting to translate the theoretical work in the wind tunnel and in computer-aided design into the reality of carbon fibre, aluminium and steel of the Ensign.

Source: University of Bolton