We always enjoy Mercedes boss Toto Wolff’s continuous commentary on anything and everything in the press. As we’ve said before, if you need an opinion about Mercedes and what they are doing, Toto is your man but if you also want some comments on another team’s driver, engine, chassis, business model or an opinion on the quality of food in the Williams hospitality area or a key insight to how effective Haas F1 is at selling CNC machines through their marketing efforts, then Toto is STILL your man.
That hasn’t changed this week as the Merc boss said Red Bull are putting themselves at a disadvantage by not using the same fuel and lubricant supplier as their engine manufacturer, Renault.
Wolff told Autosport:
“ExxonMobil is capable of making a state of the art fuel, or BP/Castrol, or any of the top players. The strategic mistake is to opt for the commercial deal rather than making sure you are on the same specification of fuel and oil as the works team.
“We’re all using the same fuels, because we’re calibrating our engines on one spec of fuel.”
Red Bull boss Christian Horner disagrees:
“I see Toto has been making a load of comments on this,” he told Sky Sports News.
“We see it as an advantage. We have a great relationship with Exxon and have done for the last 12 months.
“They are producing some great products and we see it as a technical advantage. Their products won three grands prix last year. Obviously there are additional burdens involved in that as it’s a different supplier than what the works team have, it just means they’ve got to run more engines on the dynos which we have to cover the cost for.
“But we wouldn’t be using it if we didn’t see it as a technical advantage. They are a great company, great to respond, very quick and we see it as an advantage.”
I’ve worked with Shell and Ferrari quite a bit and I know how critical it is for Ferrari and their customers that the specs are all the same in order to ensure accurate performance. Renault now use BP while Red Bull lured Exxon Mobile from McLaren and I know that a company such as Exxon will have engineers working very closely with Red Bull to develop the fuels and lubricants they need.
Horner’s comments lead me to believe that Exxon Mobile’s team are developing products that do deliver the performance they want from their Renault engine and alludes to this being an advantage. That could be the case but in my dealings with Ferrari and Shell, I know the tolerances are critical but then Shell always was a leader in this area through their track-side lab etc. They set the bar high that all the other fuel and lubricant companies are trying to follow.
Maybe I should ask Toto what he thinks Shell and Ferrari’s biggest setbacks are…I’m sure he would have an opinion.
Hat Tip: Sky Sports