Friday, September 5, 2008

Shell in Formula One

Shell’s Formula One project team continues to grow and this year more than 50 Shell technical staff are contributing to the Shell Formula One programme with Ferrari; based in Shell laboratories and facilities around the world, back at the Scuderia Ferrari factory in Maranello and travelling to the 18 race tracks. This is clearly much more than a sponsorship – it is a technical partnership.
To date Ferrari has won 12 Formula One World Championship Drivers’ Titles and nine Formula One World Championship Constructors’ Titles with the support of Shell. Importantly the Shell technical partnership with Ferrari provides the perfect test bed for Shell road products - from Shell V-Power fuel and Shell Helix lubricants through to other speciality lubricant products, such as Shell Spirax gear oil. The lessons learned and the boundaries broken within the extreme environment of motor racing contribute to the development and production of fuel and lubricant products for customers around the world.

Shell at the races - the trackside laboratory

Shell provides Ferrari with a full analysis of fuel and oil samples at every race, using expert cutting-edge technology. In the Shell Track Lab - located within the Ferrari compound - Shell scientists conduct more than 40 tests per weekend on the Shell V-Power, Shell Helix and Shell Spirax race products used in the cars, to ensure that the drivers will be able to get peak performance at all times.


Unlike fuels, engine lubricants are slightly less restricted. This gives Shell chemists and engineers more freedom to explore new and unique formulations and get the most out of the Formula One engine. Instantaneous information provided by analysing the engine lubricant in the Track Lab is essential for the Ferrari team to understand the condition of its engines.
New to the Track Lab in 2008 is the RDE (rotating disc electrode) oil analyser which uses a technique called Optical Emission Spectrometer (OES). An extremely sophisticated instrument, it detects an increased selection of wear metals in the oil. This is once again a clear example of Shell’s cutting-edge approach to the programme, adding valuable systems to Ferrari’s track-side activity.

Read more on the role of Shell Helix in 2008


Formula One fuel is one of the most tightly controlled fuels within the world of motorsport with the chemical and physical parameters dictated by the FIA. These regulations imposed by the FIA are designed to foster the development of road car fuels; specific power boosting chemical compounds are banned and all chemical ingredients are highly monitored. This season will see 5.75% by weight of bio-oxygenate incorporated in Formula One fuel in line with FIA regulations imposed on all teams.
The analytical process for fuel remains the same. Using a gas chromatography method, Shell engineers regularly analyse the fuel, taking extreme care to ensure that it remains legal and in prime condition during the race weekend. If a sample taken by the FIA does not match the pre-approved fuel profile, the team can ultimately be disqualified.
Working within these boundaries, Shell chemists still have the flexibility to excel and develop fuel in the constant battle to increase performance.

Test after test, race after race and season after season, Shell and Ferrari work together exclusively to craft the best performing fuels and lubricants in Formula One.

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