Shell answers your Questions


After getting the call from Shell to be a part of their program with Ferrari at the Austin USGP I have to say I was wondering how much I needed to know about fuel and lubricants that I couldn’t already answer myself, but the more I thought about it the more I came up with and after setting that question out to all the F1B’ers you came back with some great ones I hadn’t thought about.

It was a terrific weekend and dealing with all the Shell personnel was an absolute pleasure, they are all very passionate about what they do and how they do it, it was infectious and the further the weekend went on the more questions I had and the more interesting this side of F1 became past, present and of course the future.

F1 truly is a hot bed of technical ingenuity in every aspect and the close tie-in’s from each aspect that needs to work together to be successful is immense. Shells part with Ferrari in the era of frozen engine regulations cannot be underestimated and from what we have seen and heard, will be even more precious in the formative years of the V6 Turbos. In fact for the first time Shell are involved in the actual design concept of the engine using its extensive knowledge and resources to help Ferrari maximize the full potential of the fuel & lubrication supply.

This will of course be extremely important in the new turbo era as will the ability to evolve as more data is logged. The two main Shell Representatives who we were lucky to spend some time with were Guy Lovett- Technology Manager for Ferrari/Shell and Dr. Andrew Foulds VP of Fuels Technology and the man responsible for Shell partnership with Ferrari so pretty lofty company.

Shell of course have to be the fuel & lubricant to all teams (Sauber, Toro Rosso in 2013) running the Ferrari engine but only Ferrari get access to the Shell Track Lab and its ability to constantly monitor all aspects that Shell play a part of on the car, which goes all the way down to the grease in the bearings!

The lubricant side does much more than keep things slick but with it’s ability to keep things cool or withstand high temps, Shell can help Ferrari in all aspects of the car’s design by allowing smaller cooling ducts to help improve aerodynamic efficiency etc. With KERS and the soon to come ERS & Turbos this engineering will be of paramount importance to Ferrari’s run to reclaim the title. Fuel has some strict rules but lubricants are fully open and as much as power can be gained from the Shell V-Power some major jumps have been made by the lubricant portion as well.

Todd will asset I was a very eager beaver when I got to sit down with them and I was armed and ready with your questions you sent as well as a few of my own so here are some answers to some of your burning questions (pun intended). They did also happily lay down my fears that when I started racing my aviation/regular fuel mix wasn’t a waste of time!

Also, if like me one question and answer leads to another feel free to ask, we will ask our Shell friends again to try and help open the doors to this important side to F1.

Christopher Schrader
How many formulations shell provides the teams and if temperature differences at the circuits are the biggest reason for changing a lubricant’s formulation?

This one I was surprised by as Shell are continually improving it’s Shell V-Power formula but it is not track specific and is built to work over a wide ambient temperature range. The main lubricant change we saw was for the different ages of the engine, the low mileage lubricant was significantly different from an engine close to its call time.

Charlie w
What is the octane rating on the fuel? Is it possible to run 87-octane regular gasoline in the F138 and how much HP would it lose?

The octane level is an ever changing number as it’s a significant part of the process to find more power in the narrow band that the FIA allow them to work with the fuel. It can go up and down a bit depending on the formula they are working on as octane is just a piece in the puzzle. They did in fact do a test with normal road fuel and yes the car did run fine but of course there was a drop in performance, no numbers were released but it was somewhere between “wow our normal fuel is quite good” & “ thank god all our hard work was for something”!

In particular, with a limit of 100 kg of fuel to be used during the race, what can they do to increase the energy density of the fuel?

There are now strict rules as to how cold the fuel can be when put in the car

What’s the oil change interval for F1 engines? Do they change oil between running sessions (i.e. between FP1 and FP2) or is it driven by the engine’s duty cycle?

Maximum would be the 350km of a full race distance, but they will pull all engine & gearbox lubricant between each session to avoid contamination from sitting in the tanks, keep the freshest product in the car as well as for analysis for an issues with the internal parts. A major part of the Shell Track Labs job during race weekends is inspecting the lubricants for excessive metallic particles using a RDE Analyzer which is a sign of an up coming failure It also makes sure the fuel is always within spec and within the rules, the FIA can take a sample at any time, whenever a newly developed fuel is activated it must be submitted to and approved by the FIA (I think Jean Todt sniffs it) and the unique profile must be retained. 30 samples of fuel & 40 of lubricants are inspected every weekend.

How do they protect the engine bearings, etc. at startup? Is oil pressure delay even a big concern?

They protect the Ferrari during start-up with both engine and oil being pre-warmed, followed by non-fired cranking.

Does F1 use ethanol in their fuel blends; and if so, how much?

FIA regulations stipulate 5.75% (by weight) of a commercially available/viable bio component must be used – in-line with global retail fuel. But they are not able to give details on the bio-component used by Shell for Ferrari. (I’m thinking they use pixie corn dust, but I could be wrong)
Paul Kiefer

How much racing fuel tech goes to passenger car fuel?

Shell were in fact the instigators in the ban on exotic fuels as they saw no downstreaming of the technology into your road car so the current rules stipulate a high percentage be a direct match to Shell V-Power at the pump. As with many things in F1 success comes from the fine details which is what they still can play around with in side the boundaries of the rules.

Fake Charlie Whiting

How “old” is the fuel used in a race weekend?

They ship all fuels from the race fuel base in Germany and one of the concerns although never materializing is it not getting there in time, so it depends on how far away the race is as to when they need to make, pack & ship it. The addition of more far away races have been added huge logistical implications (thanks Bernie!)

Eammonn Sheil

What do u do with the remaining fuel after the weekend? Will avg car run on it!

The remaining fuel is packed back up and sent back for analysis & disposal (you don’t want it getting into enemy hands after all) & is not used to fill up the rental cars for the trip back to the airport, although I swear I saw Bernie using some for his helicopter in Germany. Q2- Yes but you’d probably not want to see the price of a fill up.

Tom Firth

Was the Fuel blends changed after in race refueling was banned ?

No but the never ending pursuit of performance means the fuel now is quite a bit different

Is there an allotted fuel quantity per team?

No, but Shell bring 2000 gallons to each race!

Don’t forget to join us for our live Google+ Hangout Session with Shell’s Mike Evans on thursday December 12, 2013 at 11am EST. Details can be found here.

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