Even during the hustle of the final stages of preparation for the 2016 Formula SAE Australasia competition, there was one event the members of Monash Motorsport could not miss. On the 5th of December, the legendary  Australian F1 Aerodynamicist Willem Toet gave a guest lecture at Monash University about his experiences in the motorsport industry.

Willem’s story is inspirational. He came from humble beginnings, raised in working class suburbs in the southeastern suburbs of Melbourne, moving out of home at the age of 16. He worked his way from a petrol station attendant, to a mechanic, then found his way into motorsport and rapidly rose through the ranks with his undoubtedly brilliant innovations, such as the creation of the first computer lap time simulation software. These fabulous achievements culminated in a career in Formula 1, mainly with the title Head of Aerodynamics at Benetton, Ferrari, BAR/Honda, BMW Sauber and Sauber.

Willem walked us through what happens behind the scenes in Formula 1 when fans see big changes in specification and shakeups on the leaderboard. Willem shared his personal involvement in specific technological innovations such as the development of the f-duct, the development of cutting edge wind tunnels and other aerodynamic features which are thrown around liberally by the commentators on the race day. It was extremely impressive and engrossing for anyone with any level of interest in the motorsport industry.

Willem’s lecture resonated particularly to us involved in the Formula SAE competition. His experience in designing to an intricate and ever changing set of rules as well as managing the pressures of time and resource limitations is synonymous with the challenges the team face in all aspects leading up to and during competition. He shared his insights on resource allocation and team management, drawing on real life examples of modern F1 franchises and the reasons for their performance or lack thereof. The members of the team that were present left with invaluable insight and inspiration.

We would like to extend our thanks to Willem for being so willing and eager to share his breadth of knowledge and for his support of FSAE over the year. We would also like to thank the Monash Education Academy for organising such an excellent experience for all of us.

 

– George Gao (Electric Drivetrain)