Australian GP: Shell preview

The Shell-fuelled Ferrari team will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories in the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship season-opening Australian Grand Prix next Sunday, as it starts the defence of the Constructors' crown it won for the...

The Shell-fuelled Ferrari team will be looking to make it a hat-trick of victories in the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship season-opening Australian Grand Prix next Sunday, as it starts the defence of the Constructors' crown it won for the 12th time in 2002.

A win for Schumacher in Australia would also mean the German will have won the last three Grands Prix in succession after his triumphs in the 2002 season-closing US and Japanese races.

Never before has so much intrigue and expectation heralded the start of a new season. The winter months have been busy with discussions between the FIA (Féderation Internationale De L'Automobile), Formula One's governing body, and the teams over a raft of radical technical and sporting regulation changes designed to reduce Formula One's spiralling costs and increase the spectacle of the sport. So much so that many of the teams only put the finishing touches to their new cars and did not begin testing them in anger until mid-February.

One of the most keenly anticipated changes are the new qualifying regulations, which restrict a driver to just one timed lap but also require the cars to not refuel between qualifying and the race, which places an even greater focus on the technical alliance forged between Shell and Ferrari.

"Now that cars will move from qualifying to the race without filling for fuel, a renewed emphasis has been put on the fuel's economy," explains Mike Copson of Shell Global Solutions. "Naturally, the less fuel in a car, the lighter and faster it is, so we will be looking at providing Ferrari with a fuel that gives the team the best fuel economy without compromising power."

The new Ferrari F2003-GA's 052 engine will be powered by a brand new fuel from Shell and protected with a brand new Shell oil producing even more power, protection and reliability than last year, a season which saw the Ferrari team finish in 91% of the 17 races it contested.

"We have been working on these new products for nearly ten months now, and cannot wait to see the results on the track," adds Copson. "Although we have limited space in which to develop the fuels owing to the very tight nature of the FIA regulations, our team at Shell Global Solutions is constantly working with Ferrari to investigate possibilities of improving and developing the fuels. I think it would be fair to say that the fuel the F2003-GA will use is almost identical to the fuel you can buy in Shell service stations all around the world -- but it's amazing what we can do within the tolerances we are allowed to work."

Since reforming their partnership in 1996 Shell and Ferrari have taken 44 Grand Prix victories to add to the pairing's previous 59 triumphs. The Australian Grand Prix kicks off a 16-race season that culminates at the Japanese Grand Prix in October after visits to 13 different countries spread across four different continents.

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Series Formula 1
Teams Ferrari