Shell Saturday Qualifying An electrifying qualifying session with Shell supported Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and BMW Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya slugging it out for pole position. World Champion Michael Schumacher was first off ...
Shell Saturday Qualifying
An electrifying qualifying session with Shell supported Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and BMW Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya slugging it out for pole position. World Champion Michael Schumacher was first off the mark to claim pole position before being outpaced by the Colombian driver, but the German was soon back on the track to record a blistering 1.35.266, four tenths ahead of second place man, Montoya.
Even more impressive was the fact that the World Champion claimed his sensational pole position after just six laps out of his possible twelve. In typical laid back fashion, Schumacher explained the time as down to teamwork "We carried out a lot of good preparation yesterday and so today all we had to do was qualify. I think I can say that the car was perfect."
Ferrari's technical partner Shell is part of the important teamwork and preparations that Schumacher mentioned, which are particularly vital in the extreme weather conditions. As Shell fuel's expert Tobias Tasche said "The heat we experience in Malaysia is always the main challenge at the Sepang circuit, where today the track temperatures were pushing forty degrees. In the case of the fuel the high ambient temperatures can lead to the evaporation of the lighter components. Any change in the properties of the fuel may have two consequences. The first is that the fingerprint of the fuel sample will not be identical to that submitted earlier to the FIA, although the FIA does allow for a certain change due to weather conditions, and the second is that change in fuel properties may have an impact on the combustion of the fuel, which could reduce performance as the lighter properties in the fuel contribute to power."
However, the Shell mobile analysis unit, a vital part of the Ferrari team, ensures that the fuel and lubricant are monitored before and after every session, and this attention to detail provides vital support to the team in terms of both performance and reliability.
As the engine runs hotter there is always a compromise to be made between the needs of the engine engineers who want greater cooling properties and the needs of the aerodynamicists who want smaller radiators to aid performance.
Shell help provide the solution by obtaining the right balance between base oils which resist temperature and greater fluidity which means less friction.
The products used in the Ferrari Formula One car also contribute to the products developed for road cars. As Tasche says "Working in these extreme weather conditions gives us the ideal opportunity to gain useful knowledge which can be used for road cars and stress resistance lubricants. What we learn today helps develop our road car products, so the Ferrari Formula One car is relevant to the improvements you see in the Shell fuel and lubricants you use in your road cars."
Schumacher's team mate, Brazilian Rubens Barrichello pulled out all the stops in a last minute qualifying lap, the twelfth and final lap of his permitted twelve laps, to trump Ralf Schumacher and claim third place on the grid with a time of 1.35.891.
Afterwards Barrichello said "I am happy I got the speed out of the car and managed to move a bit nearer the front of the grid. At the start of the session I took time to find the right set-up as the car had felt more together in the morning on old tyres, the first change we made was not an improvement, but we got it right in the end."
A confident, relaxed Schumacher goes into the race tomorrow feeling optimistic "I feel confident, but of course the unpredictable weather conditions could change things so it is difficult to predict what might happen."
Technical Director Ross Brawn said "I think we are in good shape for tomorrow. The qualifying session was great, both in terms of the performance of the drivers and that of the team. It was a more exciting session than in Melbourne, with a good battle between us and our rivals."
The team is still using the modified 2001 chassis, and Ferrari and Shell are working together finalising the 2002 car back in Maranello, where Shell now has a dedicated office, further reflecting the strength of the partnership.