In the United States, SAE Inc (Society of Automotive Engineers) had started to run its Formula SAE programme in 1981. In their opinion, newly graduated engineers lacked some vital practical engineering skills. Therefore, they decided to start a competition which required students to improve on these missing skills and let them experience the challenges of project management.

Years later, the competition crossed the Atlantic. In 1998 two cars from the US and two cars from the UK competed in a demonstration UK event. The initiative was considered to be very worthwhile in providing students with excellent learning opportunities and practical skills. The IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) accepted the management of the European venture in a partnership with SAE and named the competition Formula Student.

Since then, the competition has grown exponentially. Following FSAE and FS, more competitions appeared in Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia and Brazil. In the following years, the expansion continued with unofficial events in Austria, Hungary, Spain, Russia and China. Obviously, these competitions only appeared due to the worldwide increase in the number of teams. At this moment, more than 500 universities and colleges across all continents have a Formula Student team.