Four students from Leamington bring international engineering glory to Warwickshire

PUBLISHED: 13:32 28 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:47 28 November 2014

The Whittle Wonders

The Whittle Wonders


Sarah Windrum: What were you doing when you were 16? Four students from North Leamington School, whilst studying for their GCSEs have won the National F1 in Schools Competition by designing the F1 car of the future.

The pit displayThe pit display

The students are now in Abu Dhabi with their design to compete internationally and bring world glory back to the Midlands and the heart of engineering.

We are very proud of our connections to Sir Frank Whittle in Leamington. He has an a la carte restaurant named after him in the redeveloped Binswood Hall as well as Sir Frank Whittle Gardens being developed in the north of the town. Sir Frank showed an incredible aptitude for engineering at a very young age and joined the RAF as an Aircraft Apprentice aged just 16. And these four students from Leamington, two of whom are also members of the 84 Squadron Air Cadets, are clearly following in his footsteps. Ryan McLaren, Thomas Govern, Harry Birch, and Thomas Bradford (also known as the Whittle Wonders) have competed in the F1 for Schools National Competition for the past three years but this year they exceeded all expectation by beating teams from the best schools and colleges across the country to be crowned the UK National Champions.

The F1 in Schools Competition involves using CAD/CAM software to design, analyse, manufacture, test, and race miniature F1 cars. The cars are powered by compressed gas and can reach speeds of over 70 mph. After winning the Regional Finals, the Whittle Wonders took part in the National Competition over an intense weekend where they were judged on their engineering ability and knowledge, pit display, corporate image, finances, portfolio, presentation skills, and naturally the speed of their vehicle. The team also won coveted trophies for ‘Fastest F1 Car’ and ‘Best Portfolio’ as well as the hugely prestigious honour of being the UK Champions.

The story doesn’t stop there. The Whittle Wonders won a place in the International Final currently taking place in Abu Dhabi and with it the chance to bring international glory back not just to Leamington but to the Midlands and the UK. Like all F1 teams the Whittle Wonders have had to fund everything from flights, accommodation and food, competition entrance fees, vehicle design and manufacture (to fit with the new set of regulations), design, production and freight of the new pit display, team wear and much more.

The team in Abu DhabiThe team in Abu Dhabi

Over the last three years they have benefitted from sponsorship from Impetus Automotive as well as help from the Universities of Warwick and Coventry. Their £15,000 target to compete in the World Finals was also helped by generous sponsorship and financial support from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, The Worshipful Company of Engineers Charitable Trust, IMechE, Exham Plating, Safran, Alphateq, Binswood Hall, AMU, Ricardo, Mills CNC, EduGame, AP Racing, and Emerald Business Communications.

Huge credit to the wonderful Tanya McLaren who first drew my attention to the boys when she began her mission to raise this money back in June this year and what an incredible achievement it is to see the Whittle Wonders holding their own on the world engineering stage.

You can keep up to date with their progress by following @WhittleWonders on Twitter or visit and more information about the F1 in Schools competition can be found at

Good luck Whittle Wonders!

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