MOTORSPORT mad students are hoping to top the podium when their car takes to the start line at Silverstone.

Just a few days after the official Formula 1 British Grand Prix, a team from Huddersfield University are heading to the famous circuit to take part in their own racing challenge called Formula Student.

The students, dubbed Team HARE (Huddersfield Automotive Racing Enterprises), have designed and built their own car to compete in a series of racing and team events.

The cars are judged on their speed, acceleration, handling and endurance, while the teams are tested on their design, costing and business presentation skills.

Team HARE have been entering the challenge since 1999 and team leader, Ben Johannson, said the 17-strong group were hopeful of improving on last year’s performance.

Last year their car, which can do 0-60mph in about three seconds, recorded the fastest time in their class at the endurance test before disaster struck.

They were four laps from the end when an oil cap came loose, scuppering their bid for victory, leaving them 51st out of 80 at the end of all events.

Said Ben: “Last year didn’t quite go to plan as we had problems on the first day.

“This year we’re very confident of getting a good result.

“The car is a lot lighter than last year and we’ve changed to softer tyres.

“It’s basically an evolution of what we did last year.

“We knew we had a good car last year so we didn’t want to change much.”

Formula Student 2011, which runs from July 14-17, is set to become the world’s largest student motorsport event with a record 125 teams attending.

Former Ferrari F1 boss, Ross Brawn OBE, now Team Principal of the Mercedes GP Petronas F1 team and Formula Student Patron, said: “Formula Student really shows why engineering is such an exciting, dynamic subject to get involved in.

“Designing, building and financing a race car from scratch, with almost no limitations to the design or the shape, can instil a creativity in young engineers that will be absolutely crucial to them throughout their careers.

“Skilled, experienced engineering graduates are prized across the world, and Formula Student helps to deliver the best.”

Along with dozens of teams from the UK and Europe the first Palestinian team, from the Gaza Strip, will compete.

The students from the Khan Younis Training Centre, an educational centre run by the UN, have built a car in one of the most impoverished areas in the world using almost entirely recycled parts.

Other new teams are coming from as far afield as Nigeria, Thailand, Russia, Australia and India.

Meanwhile The University of Bath will attempt to become the first UK winner of Formula Student using an ex-professional racing driver.

Jason Linden-Tahincioglu is a former GP2 driver who raced against McClaren F1 star Lewis Hamilton.