Laurel Hill Racing starts their F1 in Schools journey

by Petrol Mum

In previous years Driven Women Magazine has followed the progress of two all-girl F1 in Schools teams from Australia but this year, demonstrating the international nature of the competition, we will be working with the Irish team, Laurel Hill Racing.

With the encouragement of their Physics teacher and a keen interest in engineering and especially motor sports, the 6th year students, Sophie, Margherita, Genevieve and Alannah, from Laurel Hill Secondary School in Limerick, Ireland formed a team to compete in the F1 in Schools programme with the aim to represent Ireland at the F1 in Schools World Final.

Laurel Hill Secondary School is an all-girls school and students have always been encouraged to speak their minds and do anything that we want to do. Teachers have always said “if you can see you can be it”. They’ve encouraged this motto by sticking posters of female sports icons and other powerful women on the walls. Personally, all of the Laurel Hill Racing team members love this motto and stick by it every single day. This has led to it becoming the team’s main hashtag in order to promote women in STEM, women in motor sports and well… women!

“If we do not win this competition, we hope to inspire young girls within our school and nationally, to compete in this soul fulfilling competition. We also hope that our school will continue this project as we believe that a lot of students can benefit from this. Our main goal as 6th years is to become mentors to these girls in our school,” said Sophie, Laurel Hill Racing’s Social Media and Marketing Manager.

Before their Formula 1 racing project began, none of the team had any previous engineering background or subjects in school, so everything they’ve learned so far they’ve had to figure it out with the help of Google, teachers, or YouTube videos. The Formula 1 in Schools’ website also has a vast array of resources to help get teams started on their journey building the race car and completing the other elements of the competition.

“We love watching the F1 races and once we saw that there was a competition it was huge for us. We could manufacture our own car and put our own little spin on it,” said Margherita Ní Fhlatharta, Team Manager of Laurel Hill Racing.

Let’s meet the Laurel Hill Racing team and find out more about their motivations for taking part in the complex F1 in Schools competition.

Sophie Coleman is the Social Media and Marketing Manager and is in charge of bringing on new sponsors on board and ensuring a positive relationship ensues. She markets the team’s brand and communicates with the media to maximise exposure that all sponsors are happy with their decision to invest in our team. She keeps in constant contact with our sponsors to ensure this is done.  Her other job is to make sure all the team’s social media is up to date and posting engaging content.

“For me, I have learned a lot of skills that you wouldn’t typically learn in school even though we’ve only been working on this competition for about a month now. I learned that social media can help us connect with people, I would never have dreamed of contacting before. Without this competition I would never have realised how much I love marketing. Business has always been one of my passions and it is a subject I do in school but I never realised to the full extent, how much joy marketing our brand gives me. I’ve also learned that getting sponsorships is quite hard, which no doubt I know with perseverance and determination will get easier the more I reach out to people. For me, this project has allowed me to combine two things that I love most: motor sports and marketing,” Sophie told us.

Sebastian Vettel is Sophie’s racing idol and watching old videos and even current videos of him just overtaking people doing the best that he can inspires Sophie, “Sebastian also cares for the environment and for people’s human rights is really inspiring and I hope that someday I could be just like him. He is truly one of the best Formula One drivers of all time and on top of that he’s just an amazing human who just happens to be really funny and my favourite!”

Margherita Ní Fhlatharta is the Team Manager and her role as the Laurel Hill Racing project manager ensures that the overall work is done on time and with every person’s input. She makes sure that each task is done with high quality and passion. She checks up on each member of the team and makes sure each and every one of them knows what they are doing and when it has to be done. She keeps the project running smoothly.

“This programme  has allowed me to see that the world is so much bigger than we think it is. There is a whole world that so many people haven’t explored or even thought about. This competition has really pushed me out of my comfort zone, talking to strangers and taking control of situations. As the team’s manager I have been set the task of making sure everyone is on track and I love it. I love seeing where everyone is at in their work and either pushing them harder or letting them celebrate a job well done. Learning about my teammates work has also showed me that my future could be anything. Whether it’s engineering or business the world is my horizon. This competition has thoroughly brought me joy so far and I really hope that I can inspire someone too,” said Margherita.

“My idol is definitely Lewis Hamilton. After his 100th win I was just amazed that he had done so well and loved every minute of it. He is also the first and only black F1 driver bringing an absolute shock to me and inspiration that I can do anything. His sense of rebellion to the competition brings a smile to my face. I look up to him, being so brave and doing what he loves,” added Margherita.

Genevieve Bachelet is Co-Graphic and Design Engineer and is responsible for designing the website, editing, portfolio graphics. She is also in charge of designing the logo and colour schemes and the placement of logos of sponsors on the car. For this she needs to consult the design engineer regularly to see if her ideas fit the shape of the vehicle.

“The F1 in schools programme gave me a new opportunity to try engineering- something I have always been interested in, designing things I never thought I would and experience in using 3D software. Working on something new with my friends and discovering our love for STEM has really inspired me and opened new doors for my future. I absolutely love coming into meetings doing something new and watching our project evolve and take shape,” commented Genevieve.

Genevieve is relatively new to the F1 scene only becoming interested because of her friends with their passion rubbing off on her. But Genevieve looks up to Michèle Mouton who is a former French rally driver. As a half-French person herself and a girl, she really admires Michèle as a figure of women in Motorsport, “looking at her videos and interviews have inspired me to try (in any way) to follow in her footsteps,” Genevieve shared.

Alannah O’Connell is also Co-Graphic and Design Engineer and she is responsible for making the car go as fast as possible, by coming up with new ways to try and beat our competitors in order for us to win. Alannah can look no further than her idols Colin McRae and Michael Schumacher to channel that winning feeling.

“This F1 in schools programme has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone and gave me an opportunity to try engineering, something that wasn’t available in our school as a subject and hopefully will be in the future. I definitely fell in love with engineering and I would never have been able to do the opportunity if it wasn’t for the F1 in schools’ competition,” said Alannah.

Laurel Hill Racing are on the lookout for more sponsors to help them achieve their end goal but currently @Womeninmotorsports (Instagram) have been of great help with funding and supporting their team.

Woman in Motorsports is a brand that helps inspire young women to get into motor sports and achieve their dream of hopefully doing something that they love as a career. Woman in motor sports not only inspires young women across Ireland but also young women across the globe and so far have achieved multiple success stories while giving advice and guidance to whoever asks for it. Their platform helps women who dream the impossible and makes us motor sports lovers believe that we can just be as good, or if not better then some men in motor sports.

You can follow Laurel Hill Racing’s progress across social media on Instagram: laurelhillracing, Twitter: lhracing_, Snapchat: laurelh_racing and Facebook: Laurelhillracing. Or get in contact with the Team directly via email

 #if you can see it you can be it

Photographs by Laurel Hill Racing.

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