Posted on: Wed 05 Feb 2014

Hundreds of youngsters from the south-east of England were at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday competing in the F1 in Schools challenge.

Kids from 30 teams enjoyed a day to remember with welcome videos from Sauber drivers Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez in the Centenary Hall, a day of racing and presentations and a tour of the stadium in the afternoon.

The F1 in Schools project challenges youngsters around the world to use their learning in science, technology, engineering and maths and work together to design, construct and race a Formula One car of the future. To do so, they must also secure sponsorship and funding for their project, as well as give a presentation to the judging panel.

Andrew Denford, chairman of the global F1 in Schools programme, was at the Bridge to tell Chelsea TV about the initiative.

'F1 in schools is a programme trying to get the kids into engineering,' he explained. 'The UK needs it, and we work alongside Formula One in performance engineering. The appeal of F1 attracts the kids. Here we have a regional final with 30 teams from all over south of England, with the best three going into the national final at the NEC.

'We're into 42 countries, with the top three in each going into the world finals, which this year will be in Abu Dhabi.

'There are seven different elements the teams are judged on, not just the speed of their car, but their portfolio, their displays, a verbal presentation, though of course you need a fast car, and then the judges crunch the numbers and find a winner.'

It offers a realistic, though albeit condensed view of life inside a Formula 1 team.

'There are 600 people in an F1 factory, but six in a team here,' said Denford. 'So each has a different role and they have to work together as a team. Talk to anybody from F1 and they can relate to what's happening here at Stamford Bridge, which is an amazing, perfect setting, with the Sauber link and looking out onto the pitch too. It couldn't be better and I'm sure there will be some more Chelsea fans coming out of it too.'

The national finals take place at the NEC in Birmingham from 14-15 March before the global final in Abu Dhabi later this year. In total, F1 in Schools reaches 26,000 children in 42 countries around the world.