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GP Week : Issue 215
22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: THe scHool of Hard work OPINION I’m nowhere near experienced enough to be in the position to wax lyrical about the glory days of motor sport, when teams were made up of a handful of people and drivers slept in the transporters when there was no budget left for hotels. I started following the sport in the days of Brand Centres and Energy Stations, of multi-million dollar driver salaries and sponsorship deals to match. There was nothing simple about the F1 I fell in love with, although the passion of those working in the sport is (I believe) largely unchanged. But my Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend kicked off with a reminder of those simpler days, when passion and determination ruled the roost and money - while important - paled in comparison to race wins and championship titles collected. As a guest at the F1 in Schools season finale, I spent Wednesday evening in the company of Forca Caninde, the first Brazilian team to make the final round of the international, inter-schools competition. While no team ever has an easy time making the finals of a competition that requires its entrants to design, build, and test a car while also putting together a marketing strategy and a brand identity, collecting sponsorship, and building a social media profile (and even more besides), Forca Caninde had a slightly tougher time than most. For organiser Manoel Belem, the first hurdle was getting schools to buy into the F1 in Schools concept, a novelty in Brazil. When he was able to find a school interested in taking on the challenge, the next obstacle was the school calendar in the southern hemisphere - he had to wait for the school year to begin before he was able to find a group of students keen to take part. While the students took to the task at hand like a group of ducks to water, it was not smooth sailing for Forca Caninde. You may remember that the summer of 2014 was a rather important one in Brazil, thanks to a certain global sporting event that was dominating the headlines during June and July. Now imagine having those be the months in which your project – which is sport related and needs sponsorship – is up and running. Calls, emails, and requests for meetings went unanswered while Brazil went football-crazy, and it was only when the World Cup was over that the students were able to meet with potential sponsors and attempt to convince them that a high school project was worthy of their backing. This despite the fact that there is no history of school sport sponsorship in Brazil... But convince them they did, and Forca Caninde were proudly sporting shirts covered in logos from Brazilian firms, shirts that had to be redesigned on a seemingly daily basis as more and more companies saw the value of getting on board with a project that teaches its participants a host of valuable skills that will equip them for entrepreneurial futures in motorsport and the wider world. Perhaps most impressive of all was the fact that Forca Caninde were even able to make it to the world finals in Abu Dhabi.Their shortened schedule meant that the team had three months in which to design, build, and test their car before taking it to the regional finals. It was three months of sleepless nights and a heavy workload completed on top of school and homework commitments, but if the students thought that was hard it wasn’t a patch on the three-week window between regional and world finals that saw the car redesigned, losing a third of its weight in the process. To put it in perspective, the winners of the 2014 F1 in Schools championship, UK entry Colossus F1, (pictured above) had been working on their car for two years when they graced the top step of the podium at Ferrari World on Wednesday. I couldn’t help but wonder what Forca Caninde could have achieved in the same window... OPINION KATE WALKER