Abu Dhabi: In a sport like Formula One, where timing is integral to success, Team Red Shift got their act together when it mattered most as they edged their Dubai College counterparts Revolution Racing to win the 2011 UAE F1 in Schools Finals.
Victory was particularly sweet for Team Red Shift having finished runners-up to Revolution Racing when the two teams pitted their technical know-how against each other during their school competition last month. But Team Red Shift had the last laugh in the fight to be crowned UAE national champions at Yas Marina Circuit even though both teams have now earned the right to compete in the World Championships to be held in Malaysia later this year.
"[We won] at the better time I would say," said an ecstatic Shounak Das, team manager of Red Shift, who let out a huge celebratory roar on hearing his crew being declared as the winners. "[Revolution Racing] surely gave us a wake-up call," he added in reference to the outcome of their schools battle. "We were really disappointed about that. We were really motivated because of that and that's why we're out here now."
Das' opposite number at Revolution Racing, Saniya Mediratta, chose to dwell on the double success for Dubai College rather than her team finishing second. "The fact that first was a team from our school still makes it [a great result]," said the 16 year old. Being the smallest team among the seven that took part in the event, with only three members, it was still a massive feat for Revolution Racing who endured a challenging day with their pit display collapsing at the last minute and having their verbal presentation disrupted due to software glitches.
But finishing as runners-up means they will now form a special collaboration with another school from Malaysia for a shot at the World Championships. And Mediratta will be drawing inspiration from last year's team who were in the same situation and eventually went on to finish second best on the world stage. "It certainly motivates us," she said. "We can get loads of new ideas from the team from Malaysia, because right now we wouldn't know what to expect."
As for Das, he is happy to have two members on his team who already know what it takes to compete on the biggest platform of what is the world's leading multi-disciplinary challenge for nine to 19-year-old students. Dominic Palubiski, design engineer for Team Red Shift and resources manager Louisa Henson, both went to the World Championships last year with Team Impulse. Das said: "For us newcomers, their experience was invaluable to be honest. We couldn't have done it without them. At first we didn't know what to do but having Dom and Louisa really helped."
Team Red Shift's win ensured a third straight UAE national championship triumph for Dubai College after the victories of Team Veludicrous and Team Impulse in 2009 and 2010 respectively. But the team's co-ordinator Maurice Quinlan refused to acknowledge the school held a stranglehold on the competition. "I think it's very close," Quinlan said. "If any of this year's teams had been competing in the previous year's events, they would have won them. That's an indication of how the standard keeps improving."
F1 in Schools project manager Don Sankey held a similar view. "You can argue that we are replicating the real world of Formula One," said Sankey. "Red Bull right now look like they are going to win most races in the season. Why do the other teams on the grid keep coming back every year when they don't win. They will tell you that they have achieved a huge amount and every team that's competed here has achieved a huge amount."
- Best Verbal Presentation: Team Red Shift (Dubai College, Dubai)
- Best Team Identity: Team Blackbird 1.0 (The Indian High School, Dubai)
- Best Team Display: Team Blackbird 1.0 (The Indian High School, Dubai)
- Best Reaction Time: Team Ex Machina (Greenwood International School, Dubai)
- Fastest Car: Revolution Racing (Dubai College, Dubai)