The advance party left Heathrow on Thursday and travelled through the night to Beijing and then on to Macau. On arrival at 8 pm local time, the sun had set but the city was still heaving with people and lit up by the lights of the huge hotels and casinos.
The first new experience the team had to tackle was the border crossing out of Macau. Hours of steep escalators, slow-moving queues, and severe passport scrutiny later and the team were on the other side in mainland China.
Once installed at the hotel, the reality began to sink in: we’re in China, our car is here, we’ll be racing it soon. There’s been lots of speculation about the car as no one has seen it for two months. Did the long sea voyage treat it well? What will we find when we open the container? Will it be in one piece? Our only option is to hope for the best until we are reunited with it.
After the second half of the team arrive on Sunday it’ll be all systems go on Formula Student China. Everyone is excited to be here and can’t wait to get stuck into competing. As the only international team registered the pressure to do well is high. I have every confidence the team will rise to the challenge presented by the language and culture barriers as well as trying to coax the car into action after months at sea!
The event begins on Monday when teams can register and begin scrutineering, the stringent vehicle inspections. On Tuesday there is an opening ceremony and a flag raising ceremony.
Wednesday brings the static events: the vehicle design, cost efficiency and a fictional business case are presented by the team and points awarded by the judges. The dynamic half of the scrutineering also opens on Wednesday. Hopefully we’ll be ready for those inspections by then.
On Thursday racing begins. The acceleration and skid pad events are first, testing the vehicle's performance in a straight line and around a figure-of-eight respectively.
Friday and Saturday will be the most crucial days for point scoring as the autocross and endurance events are held then. The vast majority of the points for the racing events are awarded for good endurance performance so that event is a priority. The autocross event can be thought of as a qualifier for the endurance, the lap times achieved in the autocross decide the order of cars in the endurance.
I anticipate our greatest challenge will be communication; so far we have been forced to use a charades-style type of sign language almost everywhere we’ve been. The arrival of our interpreter is eagerly awaited! Our second challenge will be one we’re very familiar with in this small team: a lack of manpower. The skeleton crew we have here is versatile yet full of specialised skills: engineers doubling up as drivers, electronics experts as mechanics. However, this compact team structure normally leads to everyone getting very little sleep!
The team are as excited as ever to see what the domestic teams will bring to Formula Student China. Check back in with our next blog post to see how we’re getting on!