F1B Downshift#56- How Shell lubricates a Ferrari F1 engine

Part of my journey to learn more about Shell V-Power raised several questions about another part of Shell’s operation and relationship with Ferrari. While the importance of Fuel cannot be ignored, I also found that the challenge of lubricating a Formula 1 engine is equally critical and I wanted to learn more about that process.

I reached out to Shell’s Ian Shannon and Mark Wakem to get their insight on just how Shell approaches the daunting task of lubricating a Formula One engine and what relevance that has for us at home. Making eight engines last for a season was hard enough but in 2014, they only have five engines and they could be asked to serve as many as 21 races. The task is immense! Join me, Ian and Mark as we discuss Shell’s approach to lubricating a F1 engine and the relevancy to our road cars.

Here are Ian and Mark’s bio’s…they are very busy boys.

Ian Shannon

Ian Shannon graduated from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, with a degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics, and a PhD in Atomic Physics.

From university, Ian joined Shell at the Thornton Research Centre near Chester in the UK, where he spent ten years in a variety of roles developing next-generation formulation technology and products for passenger car motor oils and heavy-duty engine oil applications. In between these roles he spent three years in Melbourne, Australia where he ran Shell’s technical service and product development centre serving a wide variety of fuels and lubricants customers.

Between 1999 and 2005, Ian was European Marketing Manager responsible for delivering new business solutions to customers across a wide variety of manufacturing and heavy industry business sectors. From 2006 to 2009, Ian was responsible for Shell UK’s Industry Lubricants business, leading a team responsible for developing long-term partnerships with B2B enterprises in the UK.

Since 2009, Ian has returned to Shell’s Lubricants Technology function, where he now leads the global team responsible for Passenger Car Motor Oils R&D, delivering leading-edge technology for Pennzoil, Quaker State, Shell Helix and dedicated automotive OEM products.

Ian has been married for over 25 years, and has three adult children. He spends his spare time walking, keeping fit, reading, enjoying good food and drink, and listening to a wide variety of classical and rock music.

Mark Wakem

Mark Wakem works with Ferrari design and development teams to ensure Shell’s engine oils deliver maximum performance and optimum protection in each new development of their Formula One™ engines. At the same time, he is part of the Shell Helix road oil development team, ensuring that the lubricant technology transfer between the road and race track is used to best effect for both products.

A typical day for Wakem involves discussing engine oil developments with the engineers in Maranello, and the results of tests in the engine cells there and out at track tests around the world. In the UK, he and his team may be planning a development programme for the next generation of oil for the Ferrari Formula One™ engine, involving blending a set of oils in the laboratory, then carrying out a variety of tests in rigs to decide the formulation of candidates to go forward for engine testing in Maranello.

Wakem graduated in Engineering from the University of Cambridge and had originally planned to be an aeronautical engineer. While there, he realised that virtually no one gets to design a whole aircraft any more (let alone develop and test fly it himself!). Finding himself drawn to mechanical engineering and the internal combustion engine, the flexibility of the Engineering degree course allowed him to change career direction quite easily.

His first job at Shell was developing tests using engines as the tools for motor oil development. Over the years, he became a specialist in engine hardware, looking at future engine developments and their impact on lubricants. His first role in Formula One™ involved evaluating off-the-wall ideas for performance improvement, which seemed a natural fit with his background in engines and their development. He later took over the engine lubricant development as his main task.

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