Friday, August 22, 2008

Running on Shell in Singapore

By the time the first Formula One night race takes place in Singapore this year, it will not just be long-time technical partner Ferrari feeling the benefit of Shell's advanced technologies. Shell Bitumen was selected to supply premium grade Bitumen Shell Cariphalte Racetrack for the new track surface at the Singapore Grand Prix circuit.

The track laying work has been underway since April 2008 and was completed in June. In reflection of the race itself, track surfacing work was carried out overnight (midnight - 6am), so as not to disrupt the daily traffic on the streets of Singapore. More than 15,000 tonnes of asphalt has been laid in that time.
The challenges associated have included development of an asphalt formulation unique to the demands of the Singapore venue, not only because of its dual purpose as a busy city road by day and a Formula One circuit by night, but because of the varied climate and temperatures. The formulation created by Shell and Hanson Heidelberg is a mix of specially selected aggregate (stone) from Malaysia and Shell Cariphalte Racetrack Bitumen technology. A complicated project, the Singapore Formula One track surfacing was completed in cooperation with contractor Hanson Heidelberg.
Shell Bitumen technology is proven worldwide and has already been used at the Formula One circuits of Sepang in Malaysia, Sakhir in Bahrain, Hockenheim and Nürburgring in Germany and Ferrari's own Fiorano test track in Italy. Asada Harinsuit, Shell Bitumen Vice President said: "Shell Bitumen is renowned for its technical solutions and long experience. We are pleased to see Shell Cariphalte Racetrack selected as the right product for the Singapore Grand Prix circuit."

For this application, the track surface has to remain constant, whilst being subjected to a range of weather conditions and extreme punishment from the Formula One cars. The binder has a much higher cohesive strength so it can withstand horizontal sheer forces when a race car accelerates or when the car brakes into the corner, Shell Cariphalte Racetrack provides the perfect solution.

This Shell technology aims to provide a fine racing experience for all twenty competing cars on track. Scuderia Ferrari Team Director, Stefano Domenicali, spoke recently about this project; "The track surface is the place where the car has to run smoothly - it affects grip, it affects the aerodynamic of the car and at the end of the day it affects the performance of the car itself. That is the reason why it is important and is sometimes difficult to find the right place where we can have races."

Referring to Shell's long-standing technical partnership with Ferrari, Domenicali also commented: "We are pleased to know that Shell Bitumen was chosen to prepare the new track in Singapore and we were lucky, because thanks to our collaboration we had the Fiorano track completely surfaced with a new technology and new product and that helps a lot."
Shell's track to road transfer of technology and knowledge is exemplified by the paving of Singapore's Grand Prix circuit where the two surfaces, that of Formula One and that of road cars, have to work together to provide a stable foundation for years to come.

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