Shell V-Power race fuel, blended to perfection Long before the official Formula One World Championship began, the relationship between a passionate young racing driver named Enzo Ferrari and a global fuel company called Shell was blending on the...
Shell V-Power race fuel, blended to perfection
Long before the official Formula One World Championship began, the relationship between a passionate young racing driver named Enzo Ferrari and a global fuel company called Shell was blending on the circuits of Europe. Now, more than 80 years on, as it celebrates its 450th race in Formula One, the collaboration has never been stronger.
Ferrari was working with Shell to obtain the best fuels and lubricants when he ran Alfa Romeo cars in the late 1920s and ever since he created the legendary Ferrari marque in 1947 and filled his first car with Shell, the technical partnership has proven the importance of fuel and oils in the performance of both road and racing machines.
Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso is the latest in a long line of race-winning drivers who have experienced the benefits of the partnership first-hand and after joining the team this year he is already seeing how the long-standing relationship works, both at the racetrack and in the heart of Ferrari at Maranello.
"In motorsport the longer the relationship and the partnership can be, the better it is for both parties," said Alonso. "The experience you can have with so many years of information, so many years of data you can analyse, so many years of little issues you can learn about, is very important and it is great to be part of this family now."
At home with Ferrari
The technical partnership has come a long way since that first race together, in 1947, when the Italian team simply used the products in their cars.
The days of corrosive and volatile fuel mixtures made of aviation fuel and benzene and overly viscous engine oils are long gone, replaced by highly sophisticated and constantly updated fuels and lubricants that have been developed through years of testing on track and in technology centres around the world.
The close collaboration begins at the respective facilities -- the Shell Technology Centre in the UK, and Ferrari in Maranello, Italy -- with constant communication to define requirements and proposals for the mixing team. New fuels and lubricants are then developed and tested in Maranello, with representatives from both companies present.
Their all-encompassing facility at Thornton allows Shell to keep pace with the demands of Formula One and Fuels Development Manager Mike Evans explains: "We can formulate the fuels, blend them and get them analysed very, very quickly on-site, so it's a very good working relationship we have to get the products out.
"These days, we have very good integration with the Scuderia Ferrari team. Probably ten years ago, there was a real step change where we integrated all our computer modelling with Ferrari's so we got better integration and better feedback into how everything was performing. It's all been pulled together as one big team effort."
Embedded at the race
This close working relationship continues at the track, with Shell's unique Trackside Laboratory positioned right in the heart of the Scuderia Ferrari garage at every Formula One race.
The level of confidential information involved can only be shared thanks to the trusted long-term partnership and at the race it enables the team to make vital performance checks to ensure the car behaves as expected with current or new fuel or lubricant advancements.
"It is amazing to see how our role has changed from the first race to the 450th," said Shell Trackside Analyst for Ferrari, Dan Jamieson. "The technology has increased, the number of personnel involved has increased and the equipment and the facilities have improved immensely.
"Originally we were in a corner at the back of the garage and now we have our own dedicated trackside laboratory in the middle of the garage. Over that time period our role has also increased and the service that we're able to offer to Ferrari is becoming more and more important. And that doesn't stop, it is continuously developed."
The Shell technicians regularly check fuel samples throughout the race weekend to ensure they are free from any contamination that could have been caused in transport to the race, while the continued analysis of oil samples can show how the engine is performing and reveal signs of engine wear, before it is too late.
The importance of reliability and fuel efficiency, driven by the latest engine regulations and the ban on refuelling in 2010, has made the technical partnership even more of a focus.
Increasing knowledge and the ever strengthening drive towards perfection has created greater understanding of the relationship between engine, fuel and lubricants. Now, simply putting a product in a Formula One engine is not good enough which is why this working relationship, unique in Formula One, is so valuable.
Scuderia Ferrari Chief Engineer Chris Dyer explained: "Now, more than ever, when we design a car and go racing, it's important that all the pieces work together. Working very closely with Shell is an extension of that concept. Not only are we designing an engine and a gearbox, we're designing fuels and oils together with that, so it's just a complete integration."
In the last 10 years, thanks to advancements in the accuracy of engineering tools and systems, reliability has improved dramatically in Formula One. Most of the leading teams will suffer few failures during the season and that makes it vital to focus on every possible factor that can influence Ferrari's on-track performance.
The general trend towards reduced resources in Formula One has also stepped up the importance of all factors and Dyer added: "Every aspect of the business is focusing on becoming more and more efficient, and as resources have become more limited in the last ten years, the resources you have gain in value.
"You have to get much more out of everything, so we ask more of our partners and we ask more of ourselves. Reliability is absolutely paramount and performance is always critical. Every hundredth of a second is important and working closely with Shell we gain those hundredths and thousandths and tenths week in week out."
Improved fuels and lubricants can help improve power output, fuel efficiency and reliability and Evans added: "Every aspect has to be at the top level to get ultimate performance from the car. Anything you can have -- one or two horsepower, one or two per cent improvement in fuel efficiency or similar gains from the lubricants -- all stacks up."
Reaching beyond the track
The pressure the two brands put themselves under to perform on track not only results in dramatic Grand Prix victories, but it directly drives into products for the road.
"We discuss a lot with Shell about development and we apply a lot of pressure," said Ferrari Technical Director Aldo Costa. "I cannot say there is Ferrari and there is a Shell. We see it as a unique team, as a single team. We think and we develop new ideas and new technologies together."
Formula One may be seen by some as a global sport and a marketer's dream, but Shell is also in it for the technology. The knowledge gained from racing in Formula One with Ferrari is invaluable and the way Shell works means it really is a testing ground for the fuels and lubricants of the future.
"This technical partnership is incredibly important to what Shell does for motorists," explains Lisa Lilley, Shell's Technology Manager for Ferrari. "It's a core part of our R and D program. It gets ideas from our innovation hub and from our long return research areas and it feeds back what it is learning into the development programs.
"We use the same people to develop the Formula One products to develop the products that are commercially available. We make sure the ideas are transferred through and ultimately the customer who buys the Shell V-Power fuel or the Shell Helix lubricant is really benefiting from this Formula One Program."
Shell has a long history of working closely with Ferrari, but the two motorsport brands are now committed to a long-term future together developing technologies to improve performance both on and off track.
"Shell has been close to Ferrari since the beginning, winning in Le Mans, winning in Formula One, winning in the Carreras Americanas, winning in Daytona, winning in Sydney, winning everywhere," said Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo. "Looking at the future, the relationship will be focused on advanced research, (helping to prevent) pollution and competition in Formula One. When you are partners, you always have the creativity to look ahead, to do more, better. But the main goal is always to win..."
Q&A: MEMORIES OF A WINNING PARTNERSHIP
Luca di Montezemolo -- President, Scuderia Ferrari
"If I look at the recent past, for sure the highlight was October 2000 in Japan, when we won the (drivers') world championship after 21 years. That was a unique day. Then 15 days later in Malaysia we also won the manufacturers' title. In 2007, also, when we won the championship with Kimi Raikkonen in Brazil. But what I also remember very well was when Shell in the second half of the nineties decided to use more Ferrari in advertising. I remember the commercial with our drivers at Shell's petrol station and I remember also a huge television promotion. I was proud of this."
"Niki Lauda, in the seventies, when he came to Ferrari he was a really young driver with little experience and he was a real champion. This was a fantastic experience for me. Michael did a fantastic job in his career with the Scuderia and of course he's the driver who won so many Grands Prix and championships, he did a fantastic job for us and we loved him. He really he did his best and the best years of his life have been dedicated to Ferrari. Also, in 1968 Spa race we introduced the first wing on a Formula One and the same year in Monza we introduced the moving wing, so Ferrari has been the first team to change the aerodynamic approach so this is also something that is in my story: our technology."
Aldo Costa -- Technical Director, Scuderia Ferrari
"To win 150 races over 450 attempts is from a sporting view something really unbelievable and we are very, very proud of it. I have two great memories: the first when we won the championship again for the first time in 21 years, so the constructors in 1999 and the driver and constructors in 2000 championship, and then when we won the title in 2007, because it was for us quite a big change in terms of the organisation and the drivers. These moments are the peak of my period at Ferrari."
Chris Dyer -- Chief Engineer, Scuderia Ferrari
"I don't look at a particular race as a highlight, I look at a car -- and the car we had in 2004 was an amazing car in every aspect, with fantastic reliability and performance, and all the pieces of the team came together to produce something spectacular. A personal highlight was the final race of 2007 where we won the championship with Kimi by one point. It was a particularly difficult championship and we led the championship just twice in the year - after the first race and after the last race. The best part of half the season we were twenty-five points behind and we managed to close that gap down and go into the last race with a slim chance to win. There are so many variables in Formula One I don't think you ever go into any race knowing you're going to win a race, let alone the championship, and in that race it wasn't just a matter of us winning the race, other people had to make mistakes. We went in knowing we just had to do a perfect job and rely on the others to make some mistakes. We did our job, they made mistakes and we took the championship. That was really a race that will always stand out in my memory."
Luca Marmorini -- Head of Engines and Electronics, Scuderia Ferrari
"A long partnership is the basis of developing true advanced components, having a partner that knows in detail our engine and the way we work. For me as an engineer that's a fundamental thing because dealing with a partner that you know won't work with you for such a long time, you always try to keep your things for you. I always tend to see highlights whenever there is a new engine (on) a dyno. All the engines that you follow and put your ideas (into), the first time the engine is starts, that is probably the highlight of my life."
Lisa Lilley -- Shell Technology Manager for Ferrari
"Imola 2005 was the first race I went to and it was my first glimpse of how it works. People say it's a circus, a travelling show, and it's true! In that race Schumacher qualified in P13 and one of my colleagues said to me 'huh, it's Imola, you can't overtake - don't bother to watch the race, we're not going to do anything.' So I didn't watch the first 10 minutes and I suddenly looked up and Michael had got to P2. I was stunned because I missed him doing all his overtaking moves, then he had the most amazing race with Alonso. He pulled back about a second a lap until he was right on Alonso's tail and it was the most amazing battle right to the end. Michael finished second, which was unfortunate, but it was nail biting!"
Dan Jamieson -- Shell Trackside Analyst for Ferrari
"Personally, my best memory is that I got to hold Felipe's pit board in Japan! I was in the garage waiting for an oil sample and (Ferrari race engineer) Rob Smedley asked if I was doing anything. When I told him I was not, he gave me the pit board and said 'go and stand out there and do that!' That was unique for me. Scary, but something I can tell my grand kids."
Dave Salters - Head of Engine Development, Ferrari
"A couple of years ago we had a particular case with a new oil and that oil made the difference on getting pole. We went on to win the race, and that's nice to see a difference being made but not hypothetical difference, an actual, measurable difference."
Mike Evans -- Shell Formula One Fuels Development Project Leader
"Seeing Michael Schumacher come on board, I really remember the first race he won with Ferrari and Shell products. That was a very emotional moment for everybody here. Then over the years, the first constructors' championship and Michael's first driving championship, really emotional times, really rewarding times. Whenever we introduced a new fuel and he'd win a race, you got a real good sense of pride."