Team Bath Racing Electric: A Racing Certainty

Team Bath Racing Electric (TRBe) is a student team who operate from the University of Bath. The students taking part are from a variety of courses, including Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and produce bespoke, in-house designs to optimise cars for racing conditions. We spoke to the team to find out how they are preparing for this year’s competitions.

Team Bath Racing Electric (TBRe) is an electric Formula Student (FS) team based out of the University of Bath’s Faculty of Engineering and Design. Formula Student is the largest student engineering competition worldwide, in which teams from over 600 universities design, build and compete with a single-seater racing car in competitions internationally. For most of its history, TBRe has held the title of the UK’s best electric team due to the hard work of its members. Recently they have been climbing the European rankings, placing third overall last year in Portugal. This year they are hoping to prove they are the UK’s best team while aiming to better their European standing.

Your electric race car team has built up its presence on the track to achieve its ranking as one of the UK’s number one electric Formula Student teams. Why has this been possible?
The main reason for our success is the hard work of the students involved, both currently and in the years since the team’s creation. Every year we evaluate our performance and refine the design accordingly to allow us to build on previous students’ work. In addition, every member who takes part does so because they love being involved, making not only a very efficient and productive team, but also a positive and friendly environment in which members become close friends over the years..

How many students are involved in the electric car team? Do students join from specific courses at the University?
The team has grown from around 10 students in 2015 to its current 50 core team members, along with countless others who get involved on a less regular basis. Although the majority of the technical team comprises mechanical and electrical engineering students, the rest of the team connects people with a passion for motorsport, studying degrees such as Politics, Physics, Marketing and Psychology. This is unique to TBRe. Groups work on different aspects of the car based on their interests or specialist areas; among these are the chassis, powertrain, brakes and aerodynamics. Sub-teams are usually made up of experienced final-year students who oversee and support students with less technical know-how. In addition, students can get involved with business operations to manage logistics and find sponsors.

With their huge passion and dedication, students find [the work] complementary to their degree due to the skills and experience they gain”

The team produces a different car each year. What are the stages involved in the design and build?
Work on the new car begins in September, right after the last race of the summer, giving us around 10 months to design, build and test the vehicle before taking it to competition. First, there is the design and validation. Shortly after, the manufacturing of the chassis begins, followed by the manufacturing of the components for sub-systems and, finally, testing. However, these are not linear processes, as the teams work on different aspects simultaneously. The design process is iterative, varying from generating new ideas for the car, to simulations and testing.

What is the technology you use in the cars?
The technology is similar to that of any professional motorsport team, yet with a lower budget. This is seen in our single motor and brake for the rear axle instead of separate components for each rear wheel – something we are looking to upgrade in the coming years. Another key part is our accumulator (battery), which powers the car. Unlike the majority of the UK’s Formula Student teams, the entire process of manufacturing was completed in-house, something we are so proud of.

Can you tell us about the plan for the 2024 car?
The main change we’re introducing is the carbon fibre chassis, which replaces the more traditional tubular steel spaceframe used by the majority of our competitors in the UK. Carbon is much lighter and stiffer than steel in this context. Additionally, the monocoque allows for a lot more creativity and options for sub-system integration. For the majority of the other components, we are building on last year’s designs to increase their quality and performance to make a faster and more reliable car.

How does the collaboration between students work?
Every week we hold a meeting in which the core members discuss their progress, to ensure that everyone is up to date with the status of different systems of the car, in order to integrate them successfully. All new ideas are discussed and evaluated based on their rule compliance, ease of integration, and feasibility. The designers then make the required changes and the process repeats.

How do the competitions work? What is the best achievement the team has had in a competition?
Competitions involve dynamic and static elements. The dynamic areas test the speed, acceleration and control of the car in time trials on real racetracks across Europe. The static aspects require teams to deliver a business plan presentation. In addition, the team defends their engineering choices and deep knowledge in the ‘Design’ and ‘Cost & Manufacturing’ events, proving that the design and manufacturing of the car was done at the highest possible standard for our budget.

Last year we competed in three events: at the Silverstone circuit in England, as well as in Spain and Portugal. Our greatest achievement was coming third in Portugal and completing in an official endurance event, a 22km race, for the first time since 2018. These are some of the best results the team has achieved, along with ranking 1st UK electric team in Silverstone in 2022.

How do you finance the team and find sponsors?
While we receive funding from Bath University every year, the team also relies on its sponsors to be able to function. Securing sponsorship involves contacting and meeting companies through the university’s impressive industry links. Many of the alumni or placement students who have gone on to work in different engineering roles act as contacts and help us to get in touch with the right people from these companies.

How much time do the students involved contribute?
Most students are incredibly passionate about their role on the project, spending countless hours with the team, and often describing it as being “like a full time job”. Yet with their huge passion and dedication, students find this complementary to their degree due to the valuable skills and experience they gain. This leads them to often being among the university’s highest performers.

What percentage of the students from the team have gone on to work in the car industry or in related fields?
Being a member of TBRe is an incredible opportunity as we are involved in what is effectively a small professional motorsport team. The chance to apply theoretical concepts to a real-life scenario means that we see our work pay off in terms of performance. While it’s hard to put a percentage to this, almost all of our members who want to pursue a career in the motorsport or automotive industries are able to do so with the knowledge and experience they’ve gained.

The TRBe team celebrates their success at the Silverstone racetrack in July 2023, after coming second out of all the UK teams

Can you outline some of the challenges the team encounters?
Raising funds for the team is a big challenge. Compared to some of the teams in Europe, our budget is minimal, and without proper funding we can’t make significant progress. That’s why this year, a lot more people are involved in the business operations team, contacting and arranging meetings with as many different companies as possible to ensure we have the funding to implement some of the more expensive changes we’d like to make, such as the carbon chassis or four-wheel drive.

Can you tell us about some of the highlights from the team’s design and racing history?
One major highlight was being able to compete in Zhuhai, China, in 2018. Not only did we arrive at this event as the only UK team, but we were also the first UK team to ever compete there. This shows the true international scale of Formula Student as a whole, proving that it’s not just a European competition. Additionally, last year’s successes in Portugal and Spain, where we came third and fourth respectively, are matters of great pride. Despite extreme heat, our dedicated team was able to complete the endurance event in Spain.

What are the team’s plans for the future?
From a technical point of view, we have a long-term plan to gradually upgrade components of the car, starting this year with the carbon fibre monocoque. One major goal is to replace the single motor on the rear wheels with two separate motors on each wheel, as part of the process of moving from a rear-wheel drive to a four-wheel drive, which would hugely improve manoeuvrability. From a more general point of view, we’d also like to focus on building up the team culture and integrating professional standards of practice, with the aim of becoming the UK’s foremost Formula Student team.

TBRe racing revelations: 

– University of Bath Formula Student teams have been among the UK’s top performers, with TBRe finishing third in the ‘Electric Vehicle’ category in Portugal last year.
– In 2024 the team is competing at Silverstone in Northamptonshire, as well as in international Formula Student events across Europe.
– Sponsorship is integral as it provides funding to buy and manufacture components for the car, and to arrange travel to competitions.
– Many of the students who take part go on to careers in the automotive and motorsport industries, including within Formula 1 teams and top-tier car manufacturers. ­­­­

• If you would like to find out more about the Team Bath Racing Electric Team, see