As we know, India has a huge population and most of us worship cricket, more importantly, the men’s national cricket team. Every kid from a young age knows who Virat Kohli is or Mahendra Singh Dhoni is, but only a select few know about the achievements of the women’s national cricket team or who their star players are. The same goes for the motorsport industry in our country. Motorsports is relatively new in our country and is by far a male-dominated sport. India has a very potent talent pool of which, only men receive any major sponsorships after years of hard work. We forget that there are women too who aspire to take part in the major leagues of motorsport and they face stiffer competition than men to create a base to take them further. This is not just the case in India, but all over the globe. Traditionally, Formula 1 is perceived as a male-dominated sport because every person growing up has heard tales about Aryton Senna, Michael Schumacher, etc. But, there are women in the motorsport industry who are busting stereotypes and beginning to reshape this largely male-dominated landscape.
With all this said, we have our very own and India’s first all-women Formula Bharat Team, AIOUS Formula Student from the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women (IGDTUW). Yeah, you read it right, AIOUS is an all-women team who are highly motivated to make their mark in the Indian motorsport scenario and boy (or should I say girl?) are they extremely good at it. Not only are they the only women’s team in Formula Bharat, but they also hold the same accolade in SUPRA SAE India. Apart from being the first women-only college racing team in India, AIOUS also holds the title of being the first all-women college racing team in all of Asia. Something to be extremely proud of right?
To get girls interested in motorsports in a country like ours is tricky but not impossible and is probably both the key and the greatest obstacle to increasing their number in the sport. Girls are very often steered away from motorsports as it is always considered to be a man’s cup of tea. It is very rare to come across a young girl who has been taught about cars from early up and who loves this sport. The girls from AIOUS are those few who grew up around the smell of tarmac and the revs of car engines and it shows through their work. Their passion was instilled in them from a very young age and now they are one of the best in the country and also battle with the best. Gender prejudice exists, but it does so more on the outside of the realm of the sport rather than in it. The developing motorsports scenario in India is tough for the people who aspire to be a part of it and it is even tougher for the women who have to battle the social stigma as well as the other hindrances to get into this field. Lots of hard work and support from the family members of the AIOUS team have given them this opportunity to develop the best race cars and compete with it.
The journey of AIOUS Formula Student began back in 2011. The girls of Mechanical and
Automation Engineering branch of IGDTUW began this journey by practical application of
classroom knowledge for making an FSAE car and slowly but gradually built an industrial level aptitude. The women have kept innovation as their key concept since the inception of the team and to date have never been deterred from this. AIOUS Formula Student seeks to foster active learning and innovation among the upcoming engineers and inculcate professional engineering skills, knowledge, and power into their cars. The team aims to prepare its members to size up to the real-world challenges and to develop many soft and technical skills. Since the competitions aren’t just about knowing how to make a car, this approach makes it a very good team-building practice. For the Business Plan and
Presentation & Cost events, the team researches about company setup, sourcing, marketing, product development, environment laws, machining processes, packaging, taxes, etc. Currently, the team’s objective is to learn from their failures and build a better functioning unit for the upcoming events. For Formula Bharat 2021, the team is prepping up with all hands on deck to design a new and improved car.
Target setting is an important aspect for any team in any sport. Members at AIOUS take this aspect very seriously and analyze all their previous shortcomings and set goals based on omitting them and completing new ambitions while considering the available resources. Throughout the year, the team keeps a close watch on their progress and edits work plans based on the analysis. When it comes to building the car, the team builds a single-seater, open-cockpit formula-style racing car that is pieced together according to the rulebook provided to them by the respective competitions. The simple recipe for the car is mixing high performance, lightweight, driveability, and affordability. And voila, you have a perfect track weapon from AIOUS. Once you dive a bit deep into the making of their car, you come across the versatile tubular spaceframe chassis that mounts a very capable KTM 390 Duke engine. The team has given the car an adjustable seat so that any driver can find their sweet spot to exploit the maximum potential of the car. Also, to avoid any power loss from the engine to the tarmac and to offer superior traction, the team has opted for a spool-driven system. Adding to this, for better performance and efficiency, the intake is kept lightweight without compromising on its strength. They have also implemented an inclined master cylinder geometry to squeeze out a better braking performance from the car. Suspension duties are handled by a double-wishbone pushrod actuated system and the handling is further complemented by an anti-roll bar. Even with all these features, the AIOUS team manages to keep its costs on the down-low and does it much better than the competition. They do this so efficiently that they stood 1st in the Cost Event at SUPRA SAE in 2011 and also finished a commendable 19th position in 2020 at Formula Bharat.
Over the years, AIOUS has taken part in many Formula Bharat and SUPRA events and after the conclusion of every event, they start working on their next one and plan and plot to be better than their former selves. Since 2011, the team has achieved numerous things in these events such as coming 2nd place in VIRTUAL SUPRA SAEINDIA in 2013, receiving a ”Special Mention Award" in the Formula Design Challenge in 2015, they were presented as the best team with maximum girl participants at the 2016 SUPRA SAEINDIA, they secured a commendable 14th rank in design event in 2017 at the Formula Bharat Event and in 2018 they participated in Formula Bharat and SUPRAINDIA where the team was among the Top 25 teams out of 73 Teams who were successfully able to complete the Technical inspection.
For AIOUS, Formula Bharat holds a very important place as it is a replica of a global formula series that is held in only 11 countries across the world. The event provides a great opportunity for them to compete among the best teams and be judged by renowned judges and to learn more about the world of motorsports. It is also an opportunity for them to expand their knowledge of engineering design, various engineering practices, manufacturing processes, business and automobile engineering applied in motorsports. AIOUS is always preparing for their future competitions, after every competition, they jump right in the saddle to prepare for their next one. In the months before any competition, they test their next build in the college premises for as much time as they can get, from the brakes to the stiffness of the suspension, everything is gone over by a microscope to deliver an inch-perfect car for the competition. Although due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the physical testing of their vehicles has taken a setback, they have bulldozed their way through it. During this period, they have managed to improve their designing abilities and management skills and together as a team. Their 3rd rank in the rulebook quiz of Formula Bharat 2021 is a testimony to their well-organized conduct. The pandemic has also resulted in the cancellation of the SUPRA 2020 and the Formula Bharat has switched to a virtual platform. This has resulted in the team to alter their methods and ways to achieve their various targets too.
The women at AIOUS are one of the best in the country and they have been proving this for the past 9 years. Even though being an all-girls team in a male-dominated crowd, they do not let it hamper their progress nor do they take advantage of that fact. Fair play is what they believe in and that is the true spirit of motorsports. The cars that they or any other teams build don’t consider the gender of the person driving it. We at AutoGuru are proud of this budding partnership with AIOUS and our #FEMMEREV initiative aims at proving a platform for all the women in the motorsport industry to come together and share their experiences for a better future. This initiative will help the teams to possibly bring in more support from sponsorships and fulfill the dreams of women in motorsports. #FEMMEREV also aims to play an important role in increasing awareness about the various appeals of taking up mechanical engineering, participating in events like Formula Student, etc. From engineers to volunteers, everyone is welcome to be a part of the #FEMMEREV initiative with the only requirement being to promote and help everyone grow around them.