Air compressors have always had an important role in Formula 1 Grand Prix racing, providing the high-impact power needed to operate many of the pit crews’ tools when every thousandth of a second counts.

But you might not expect to see air compressors taking the place of Formula 1 cars’ engines, as is happening in a global educational initiative run by the sport.

F1 in Schools is a scheme held in more than 40 countries worldwide, with the winners of National Finals due to head to Abu Dhabi in late October for the World Finals.

In order to enter, teams must use computer-aided design to conceptualise, build and test a Formula 1 car, constructed out of balsa wood and powered by compressed air.

Testing takes place on a scaled-down track measuring 20 metres in length, and the record so far is 1.020 seconds, set in 2007 by Northern Ireland’s Team FUGA.

However, the major landmark all teams are working towards is not just to beat this time, but to prove that compressed air and balsa wood can cover the course in less than one second flat.