Renault Australia and St Bede’s College in Mentone, Victoria, today welcomed four-time Formula 1 World Champion, Alain Prost, to the school ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.
Mr Prost, accompanied by Patrice Ratti, head of Renault Sport Cars Global, met Team Infinitude at St Bede’s College, which last year set a new world record at the global F1 in Schools Technology Challenge competition in Austin, Texas.
“Team Infinitude created a Formula 1 racer in miniature and had to cope with many similar engineering challenges that full-size racing teams, such as our own Renault Sport Formula One Team, grapple with,” said Justin Hocevar, Managing Director of Renault Australia.
“They studied structural, aerodynamic, frictional and road-holding issues and even came up with a unique and ultimately successful Launch Energy Recovery System that bought them critical tenths of a second advantage that helped secure their record,” Mr Hocevar said.
The global F1 in Schools Technology Challenge involves more than 9 million school students from 17,000 schools across 44 nations each year, including around 40,000 in Australia. It is designed to stimulate interest in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) subject areas.
The successful Australian team was a collaboration between St Bede’s College, Melbourne, and Brighton Secondary School from Adelaide, each of which contributed three talented students who worked on all aspects of the car’s origination, design, refinement and build, as well as constructing and executing a succinct marketing and sponsorship campaign that attracted the support of the Australian Department of Defence, as well as smaller, local sponsors.
Team Infinitude members travelled to Austin, Texas last October to compete in the World Finals having successfully navigated state and national rounds of the competition. The World Finals were timed to coincide with the United States Grand Prix.
“It is imperative that we inspire, equip and guide younger generations to be innovators, to embrace world-best technology, to expand their world view, and to believe that they can make a difference,” says Dr Michael Myers, leader of F1 in Schools in Australia and founder of the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation.
“With our applied learning approach, focus on industry collaboration and mentoring, we have produced an environment with an accelerated learning path which enables young teenagers to master university-level technology early in their high school years.”
During the preliminary knockout rounds of the 12th running of the World Finals, Team Infinitude set a new event World Record of 0.916 seconds across the 20 metre long track, their small four-wheeled racer reaching speeds in excess of 80 km/h. All cars are powered by a small canister of pressurised CO2 gas, and run on a nylon tether to keep them safely on track. As with Formula 1, there are many rules and regulations defining permitted technologies, dimensions and vehicle footprints.
According to Mark Micallef, a science teacher at St Bede’s College, who ran the programme with fellow teacher, Rebecca Seel, F1 in Schools brings science to life within the classroom.
“We have a number of students who have been very passionate about this programme and the results have been fantastic, both for the team, their supporters and throughout the school.
“We set a world record at the World Finals but beyond that, the students were exposed to so many diverse processes and benefits throughout the course of the programme, it will impact them positively throughout their future learning.
“While they were considering how to make the car faster through the air, and harnessing energy with the greatest efficiency, they were also learning about planning, organisation, sponsorship, external communication and presentation skills, as well as how to work to a tight deadline and integrate the programme alongside their regular studies,” he said.
Mr Prost was invited to the school by Renault Australia to congratulate the students on their record-breaking run and to encourage the Year 8 cohort to embark on this year’s programme which runs across several year levels, so they may follow in the wheel tracks of their colleagues, pursuing excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.
“As a company that is very much involved with motorsport at many levels, Renault is honoured to be able to bring our Brand Ambassador and Special Advisor to the Renault Sport Formula One Team, four-time Formula 1 World Champion, Alain Prost, to meet Team Infinitude and the students of St Bede’s College.
“In addition, we are delighted to have Patrice Ratti, our global head of Renault Sport Cars, here today, given his history as a Formula 1 technician who once worked on Mr Prost’s car many years ago, in his capacity as Chief Chassis Engineer for Renault.
“While Alain Prost’s many victories were the result of hard work, calm, split-second decision making and a strong competitive spirit, Patrice shows the students that an aptitude for technical thinking can take you a long way in a varied career,” Mr Hocevar said.
The team credits their distinctive catamaran-design and innovative extended canister housing as key innovations that helped drive them to set a new World Record.
Mark Jones, Deputy Principal of St Bede’s College, is very proud of the students’ achievements and the impact it has had on all students at the school. “Our students have embraced the success of Infinitude. We are committed and proud supporters of the F1 in Schools program, realising the benefits this has in raising student achievement, motivation and connectedness, developing key skills such as personal, thinking, leadership and teamwork skills, and making strong links between links between the classroom teaching and the real world,” Mr Jones said.
For more information on the F1 in Schools programme in Australia please visit