In this episode of F1B Downshift I participated, along with Charles at The Humble Mechanic, in a call with Shell’s Chief Scientist of Mobility, Dr. Wolfgang Warnecke. Dr. Warnecke is an amazing man who had a large role to play in revolutionizing the world of motorsport through the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is also the recipient of the Professor Ferdinand Porsche Award in Automotive Engineering.

He’s a delightful guy and a real joy to speak with and I think you’ll find his view of the future of mobility and what Shell is doing through research and creative development to address those visions including mobility research, energy alternatives as well as fuel and lubricant development.

As fate would have it, he was calling into our conference from the IMSA TUDOR United Sportscar Championship race in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas. Charles and I ask him several questions about the future of mobility and even that rumored lack of passion for cars and motorsports in general. I hope you enjoy the discussion.


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Tom Firth
Tom Firth

This was fantastic to listen too, thanks all.


I was interested in the discussion about the difference in performance tuning of engines now compared to a few decades ago. When we were younger a couple of my friends who owned Minis borrowed David Vizard’s book from the library, and set about increasing the performance of their cars. They were able to extract significantly more horsepower from the humble A-Series engine. These days it appears that youngsters after similar performance gains don’t want to touch any of the oily bits of the car, and just reprogramme the engine management system to give increased power. Have engine manufacturing processes… Read more »


(I haven’t yet listened to what’s undoubtedly a great conversation, and so hope this is on point) I think current gear heads look to electronic tuning and forced induction for their performance gains because that’s where the largest potential and cost-effectiveness now lies. Older cars’ internals held unlocked potential and an open system. My first two cars were a ’68 Camaro and ’88 Mustang. By changing upper induction and cylinder heads, upping compression, altering valve events, and opening exhausts, literally 100’s of horsepower were the result. Modern cars’ oily bits are more optimized than the Camaros/Mustangs/Mini’s of some’s youth. Intake… Read more »


Really excellent interview; thanks for sharing. (Localized emissions; lovely turn of phrase, and the argument against current electric/hybrid vehicles as “Green” globally…) Dr. Warnecke gives interesting insights into the supply-development-infrastruture conundrum. Whether LPG, Fossil, and/or Electrical is most-viable technologically for our future, I think governmental input i.e. subsidized build up of refueling/recharging stations, wireless transmitters for autonomous vehicles, and so on will determine the direction. In the greater scheme, Windmill/Solar and water harvesting will require greater investment and acceptance to curtail destructive electrical-mining techniques. Daunting undertakings, all. As to technology itself, Electrical power density is currently insufficient for gen pop’s… Read more »