Abu Dhabi: First-time entrants German International School in Dubai dominated the F1 in Schools National Championship and earned the right to represent the UAE at the F1 in Schools World Finals later this year.
Team Safire Racing, the five-member squad from the German International School, won the overall champion title and also bagged awards for Best Senior Rookie Team, Best Overall Reaction Time and Best Senior Engineered Car.
Also joining Safire Racing at the F1 in Schools World Finals will be team Blackbird X from the Indian High School in Dubai, who finished second. However, the Indian School will have to compete with another second-placed team from a different country.
"We are extremely proud. One-and-a-half years of dedication and hard work and spending awkward Saturdays at school has finally paid off," said 16-year-old Chris Land, the winning team's head of IT and communications.
Student Till Blaha, the co-founder and technical designer, said: "The biggest challenge was finding a manufacturing company with the machines that we need. Once [co-founder] Laurenz [Bissada] and I got Mercedes to sponsor us, we were set.
"We used sapphire bearings — a material usually used for jewels — which eliminated any worries we had regarding friction."
Laurenz and Till founded the team in February 2011 after hearing about the competition during a presentation at the school.
Sunday's event was the fourth edition of the F1 in Schools UAE National Championship. A total of 34 Senior and Intermediate teams went head-to-head in a bid to secure the title of UAE Champions.
Richard Cregan, chief executive officer of Yas Marina Circuit, said the competition was testament to the UAE's high standard of schools and students, as well as its growing base of motorsport fans.
"The professionalism of the teams and calibre of team presentations has been extraordinary. As the home of F1 in Schools in the UAE, it is inspiring to see the passion and hard work of the UAE's next generation of home-grown designers, engineers and motorsport managers," Cregan said.
Ameenah Taher, head of community engagement at Mubadala, a major sponsor of the F1 in Schools programme, said: "All the teams who participated in the F1 in Schools programme are champions. Judging from the depth and breadth of young design, engineering and business talent on display at the championships, it's clear the programme is offering students an opportunity to develop a variety of skills."
Winners: All-round talent
- Members of the winning (and rookie team) UAE Senior Champions 2012 team, Safire Racing of the German International School Dubai
- Team manager - Laurenz Bissada, 14, of Germany
- Technical designer - Till Blaha, 14, of Germany
- Resources manager - Cara Bissada, 16, of Germany
- Head of IT and communications - Chris Land, 16, of Germany
- Graphic designer - Dalia Abdul Rahman, 15, of Egypt