As the official fuel supplier to the Ferrari Formula One team, Shell has worked hard during the off-season to meet the new challenges. Lisa Lilley, Shell Technology Manager for Ferrari, describes the task the Shell V-Power team have faced: “The 2010 refuelling ban is by far the biggest challenge we have seen in fuel development in 15 years, but it is also a really positive one for Shell.
Over the last year we have put a lot of work into the formulation of the Shell V-Power race fuel for the new season, and our main objective has been to optimise the power and performance benefit of the Shell V-Power race fuel for Ferrari.”
Another key challenge Shell fuel scientists faced was the new fuel specification. This means the fuel has a wider formulation space, which has enabled Shell to test new technologies to meet the challenges that have arisen from the refuelling ban.
For example, Shell scientists have reformulated the Shell V-Power race fuel so it can operate at higher temperatures, as the fuel in the race car needs to last for the whole race. Lisa continues: “We are confident that we have developed a new Shell V-Power race fuel that will strongly support Ferrari’s strategy and bid for the 2010 Constructor’s Championship.”
Fuel efficiency has also become an increasingly important factor this season and Shell has had to strike the right balance between optimising power and performance and maximising fuel conservation when formulating the race fuel.
Mike Evans, Shell Formula One Fuels Development Project Leader explains, “Engines, performance-wise, are tuned to run a rich, heavy type of fuel but you can then run them on a slightly leaner formulation, which will give you a small drop in performance but it will also give you better fuel efficiency. It's getting that balance right.
We can alter the mix of components in the fuel to enable the engines to run leaner but still give optimum performance, and that's an area we've been working hard on for the last nine months leading up to the 2010 season, given the latest FIA rule changes.”
Working so closely with Ferrari is not a new concept to Shell; their longstanding technical partnership is an iconic one in Formula One spanning over sixty years. Shell V-Powertechnology has powered Ferrari to 10 Formula One World Constructor’s titles and 12 World Drivers’ titles. Ferrari Team Principal Stefano Domenicali reflects on the partnership: “The technical partnership we share with Shell is key to our understanding of fuel development. Shell has unrivalled expertise and knowledge in fuel technology, and our close-working relationship means we can constantly push the fuel to its boundaries to achieve both power and performance.
The fuel is a crucial element that has always been very important to Ferrari and the refuelling ban in 2010 means the partnership will be absolutely fundamental this season.”
As one of the most extreme test-beds for technical innovation, Formula One allows Shell to take the insights and developments from the race track and apply them directly to the road. This year, the refuelling ban in Formula One provides another opportunity for Shell to further develop Shell V-Power race fuel technology for Ferrari and then transfer those learnings to the development of the road fuel for Shell customers around the world.