f1 in schools state championshipsA team of Year 11 students from Pacific Hills has created history by becoming “rookie champions” at the NSW Finals of the F1 in Schools STEM Challenge.

At the start of 2019, students Jemma Swaak, Lachlan Vos, Lachlan George, Joshua Kan and Samuel Kirkegard hadn’t even heard of the F1 in Schools program. The competition – which involves over nine million students in 46 nations – was recently introduced to the School by the Marketing department.

With little time to prepare, the students took on the audacious task of using sophisticated 3D engineering software and manufacturing equipment to create a miniature F1 car capable of going from 0-80 km/h in under two seconds. Lachlan Vos was the Design Engineer and Graphic Designer, Lachlan George the Manufacturing Engineer, Joshua looked after Aerodynamics and was also their Creative Specialist, Samuel was Marketing Manager and Jemma became Team Manager.

At the same time as the students studied aerodynamics, drag, low-friction bearings, specialist materials and weight reduction, they had to compile detailed technical portfolios, a verbal presentation, a colourful pit display, team logo and name, and uniform. They knew they would also be judged on collaborating with industry and finding team sponsors.

Sponsors included alumni students and parents of current and past students. Our thanks go to AAA Tyres, Autohaus Hamilton, Concept Paints, Ethical Merchandising, Finance Equipment, Offset DP, Ricci Signs and TastyWorks.


The TAS room became their second home as, supported by teachers Greg Conway and Gloria Quee, the team – called “Frontier Racing” - prepared for the Regional Finals.

What occurred next can only be described as remarkable. In their first-ever competition, Frontier Racing dominated the other school teams and achieved first place for Best Engineering CAD, Best Manufactured Car, Team Verbal Presentation, Outstanding Industry Collaboration and Innovation! Plus, second place for Best Engineered Car.

They had won a place at the NSW Finals!

Frontier Racing knew they needed a better car, folios and pit display in order to score well at this next event where they would be facing the top 36 teams in the state, some of which had been involved in F1 in Schools for more than 10 years. The challenge was they only had seven weeks in which to re-invent themselves. Could they do it?


In just their second event, Frontier Racing continued their domination over the other schools. The first day of competition was on the computer timed track with its Formula One-style start lights. The sleek black car set fastest time (1.112 seconds!) during the Grand Prix session and during the Knockout series it went even quicker with a 1.109!

Day two was for ‘behind closed doors” judging of their car, engineering innovation, industry collaboration, verbal presentation and marketing. At the awards presentation our team was called up no less than seven times to receive awards! The recognition included first place for Grand Prix Racing, Fastest Lap, Innovation, Best Engineering CAD, Verbal Presentation, Knockout Racing and NSW Champion! Frontier Racing was also runner-up for Best Engineered Car, Best Manufactured Car and Best Team Portfolio.

The rookies in their first year of competing totally surprised the more experienced schools.

Frontier Racing is now the lead team representing our state at the F1 in Schools National Finals in March 2020. This event will be held at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park and provides our students with the opportunity to visit the Formula One drivers and pit garages.

If our students are able to complete their hattrick and dominate the National Finals they will be selected for Team Australia which will go to the 2020 World Finals.

Since F1 in Schools was launched in Australia in 2003 we have been THE dominant nation at the World Finals. On six occasions Australian students have stood on the top step of the podium holding the solid crystal Bernie Ecclestone Trophy as World Champions. And, they have been in second and third places even more times than that. Schools in Victoria and South Australia won the 2017 and 2018 World Finals.

Jemma, Lachlan, Lachlan, Joshua and Samuel have four months to prepare for the next big event.