F1

Petrobras celebrates a decade with Williams

Silverstone, UK. On 10 July 1998, as qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone got underway, Petrobras made its debut as the official fuel supplier of the Williams F1 team. Petrobras is the Brazilian state oil company with market ...

Silverstone, UK. On 10 July 1998, as qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone got underway, Petrobras made its debut as the official fuel supplier of the Williams F1 team. Petrobras is the Brazilian state oil company with market capitalisation of R$430 billion, operating in 27 countries worldwide and in 2007, the Reputation Institute ranked the organisation as the world's 8th most respected commercial operation. Ten years and many technological advances later, the Brazilian company is proud to celebrate a decade in Formula One during today's qualifying session for the 2008 British Grand Prix.

Petrobras has a dedicated team of 50 people working on its Formula One project, including engineers responsible for selecting raw materials, managing the complex biochemical refinement process and technicians who test and deliver the finished product to the race track. During its time in the sport, Petrobras has transported its fuel to every destination on the calendar, a complex logistical challenge undertaken by a team located in Petrobras' headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. The management of fuel to global locations by sea, air and road is as demanding a challenge as the technical requirement to supply Williams F1 with the most competitive fuel.

Petrobras' Formula One fuel is developed at both its Research Centre at Cenpes and at its Downstream area, while the Engine Refining Laboratory in Canoasin the state of Rio Grandedo Sul is responsible for preparing the race fuels. The fuel is sent for testing and to the races from Hamburg in Germany, where Petrobras stores the gasoline in 200 litre barrels and 20,000 litre tanks.

"Motor racing competition, especially Formula One, generates the greatest technical progression in the development of fuels. Participating in the world's most technically challenging and competitive motor racing category is a great opportunity for an energy company, and requires the development of products that comply with the highest demands," said Rogerio Goncalves, Petrobras' technical coordinator for Formula One gasoline.

When it decided to enter Formula One in 1998, Petrobras had two main objectives; to reinforce its brand identity overseas and use the world's most sophisticated testing grounds to develop new products. "In this period, Petrobras had to overcome several challenges, not least that the Williams team has partnered with four engine manufacturers and that the regulations have made significant changes such as engine size (from 3,000 cc to 2,400 cc), configuration (from V10 to V8), and minimum durability (engines must last two races). For 2008, with the mandatory use of biofuels added to the gasoline, new demands were created and needed a quick response and the ability to adapt on Petrobras' behalf," explained Goncalves.

The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) regulation requirement that Formula One adopts 5.75% biofuel on the race track prompted another achievement in the partnership between Petrobras and Williams F1. Late last year, Petrobras was the first oil company to successfully debut biofuels for Formula One application with a special demonstration with the AT&T Williams team in Buenos Aires.

One of the consumer benefits of Petrobras' work in Formula One was the development and launch of Podium, the company's road car fuel retailed at over 8,000 forecourts and commended as Brazil's preferred gasoline.

Petrobras in Formula One:

2 million litres of fuel produced over a decade of racing.

200,000 litres produced each season.

20 different formulae approved by FIA.

170 Grands Prix raced.

200 experimental gasolines prepared and tested at engine manufacturer facilities, about 300 in the lab.

4 different engines have run on Petrobras' gasoline: Renault (Mecachrome and Supertec), BMW, Cosworth and Toyota.

50 people work on the gasoline's development and distribution logistics.

-credit: williams

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