The University of Stuttgart motor racing team have been working closely with MANN+HUMMEL for a number of years. Each season the company plays a key role in our team’s success as one of our main sponsors – this year they are even one of our anniversary sponsors – providing us with support every step of the way on our journey to the top.

But what goes on behind the scenes to deliver this continued success?

As a member of a Formula Student team, I’m going to give you a unique insight into what it means when 38 young students decide to devote hours of hard work and endless determination, and spend one whole year together as a team to fulfil their racing dreams.

The Stuttgart Uni motor racing team – a family with drive

That moment when a collective project is first brought to life is the moment when all the elements of a team seem to come together. When the inimitable sound of the engine is heard for the first time and everyone punches the air with relief. When the tyres first roll down the final straight and we all embrace each other out of sheer joy. When hours of hard work, never-ending nights, determination and the quest for perfection finally lead to success. But it is also found in those moments when you stumble on your way to victory; when the bubble bursts and everyone is left speechless, staring blankly ahead. And it is certainly there when we collectively pick ourselves up after a set-back and come back stronger than ever. In moments like this you feel as though you have accomplished something as a team. That’s when you realise that you are a part of something extraordinary.

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It is in these very moments that 38 members of a team come together to form one big family: the University of Stuttgart motor racing team.

My new best friend

My name is Diana Karadzic and I am proud to say that I am part of this family.

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At the age of 18 I was very warmly welcomed into the motor racing team to take over the role of handling our cost report, which outlines the costings for the entire vehicle, right down to the smallest component. Delivering a clear overview of the cost and weight of all parts, as well as development, production and assembly processes, based on documentation concerning the overall vehicle was the main objective that my sister Anita and I were tasked with.

From that moment on, I spent the next few months of my life living by one simple mantra: I had a new best friend, whose name was ‘Cost Report’. My mission was to get to know my new friend and ideally spend every free moment I had with it.

And when you alone are responsible for 100 points from the competition’s total score, the last thing you want to do is let the team down.

Our second home

As you can imagine, I initially felt very daunted when I joined the team, but I needn’t have been, because I soon realised that we all had one thing in common: a passion for motorsports.

We were all born with this passion, and it stayed with us as we grew up. It’s a part of who we are that allows us to immerse ourselves in a completely different world. A world where night becomes day; a world where our will seems to overcome our exhaustion; a world where a fraction of a second can separate victory from defeat; and a world where we discover the drive to give whatever it takes to see our dreams become reality. To work together to build a winning car and ultimately drive it to victory for our team is our main priority. That is what drives us day in, day out.

This is exactly the world that I wanted to belong to. Here you feel as though you have found your second home.

You meet like-minded people who understand why you would walk away from friends, family, and even your degree, for a few months. They understand why you would stay up all night and end up dozing off in the middle of the day whilst sat on the train, or even in a lecture. And they understand why you put yourself through it all: to make it to the very top together with your team.

You soon realise that achieving this goal is only possible when you have the whole team behind you. And I mean that literally.

When the long day of static events came around, and I was nervously pacing back and forth in the pit next to the car, going over my presentation in my head for the umpteenth time and anxiously waiting to face the judges, I could feel the pressure mounting. But then I realised that I wasn’t stood there alone. As my team-mates took their places around me one by one and greeted the judges with a smile, I felt a sudden rush of determination to fulfil the role they had entrusted me with and to make them all proud.

Valerie, Fritz and Helena knew that they too were not alone when they presented their business plan, and the judges smiled as they saw the seats behind them start to fill up with the entire team, who had come to offer their support, ending the presentation with a cheer.

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And our drivers Simon, Sébastien, Florian and Matthias realised that they weren’t alone as they went through the track a final time in their minds before climbing into their cars with four-leaf clovers, lucky pennies and lots of hugs.

Whether mentally or physically, each one of us is aware, particularly in these moments, that there is a tremendous force behind us, one imbued with ambition, pride and a sense of solidarity. Although this force is there from the very beginning, it only grows and reveals its full potential in moments of particular hardship or elation. It reveals itself whenever we are filled with the determination to finish the car on time, to test it on as many miles of road as possible and come out top in competition. It grows every single day that we step outside of our comfort zone, tackle each problem as a team and battle on until we resolve it.

And each of us can feel it when the award ceremony begins, the winners are announced and, after months of hard work, we finally hear that long-awaited line: “And the winner is … Stuttgart University motor racing team!

Complete, finish, win!

I am delighted to have been part of this incredible experience and learnt what it means to work with others and to find your place in a team – a valuable lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

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This experience is something I can only recommend; if you don’t do it, you will never know how it feels to win when everyone has given up on winning. To grow together, to set new targets and to achieve them. To fall together, get back up again and come back stronger than ever. In short, to be able to look back on it all in a few years’ time and to proudly say it was the best few months of your life.

Here’s to 21 top three finishes! To achieving a new points world record of 980.15 and to our team defending it for many years to come! Here’s to a million memories, a thousand jokes and a hundred moments filled sometimes with tears but mostly with joy, and here’s to our motor racing team continuing for many years to come!

MANN+HUMMEL: a partnership for the future

All these wonderful experiences would never have been possible without the huge support given to us by our sponsors. Our team mirrors the corporate values of our anniversary sponsor MANN+HUMMEL: integrity, teamwork, top performance and respect. This approach to leading a company forms a solid basis, helping us to work together, to grow and to ultimately achieve our goals. As one of our anniversary sponsors, MANN+HUMMEL stands out thanks to its support in helping us carry out thorough research and find the best possible solutions for our vehicle design. We are extremely grateful to our ever reliable contacts at MANN+HUMMEL who were always on hand to offer their expert advice and bring us ever closer to realising our dream.

We would like to say a huge thank you to MANN+HUMMEL for all your years of support!