When Formula One regulations changed this season, no mid-race refueling meant the Shell fuel and lubricants team, who work side-by-side with the Scuderia Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy, were faced with a big challenge in reformulating their Shell V-Power high octane petrol (yes, it's a very similar fuel to that found at the servo) to suit the demanding new race structure.
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With just over six months notice, more than 50 of Shell's dedicated Formula One Research and Development staff busied themselves with preparing a fuel that would endure the additional heat of being carried the full race distance, whilst also ensuring adequate fuel economy was achieved to get the cars over the finish line - and hopefully in first place.

Speaking with Shell Fuel Technology Manager for Ferrari, Lisa Lilley (pictured above) at the Melbourne round of the Formula One Grand Prix, CarAdvice learnt that logistics were also a challenge for the Shell team with the first batch of fuel - required to service the first three rounds of the 2010 season - needed well ahead of time to ensure compliance with FIA approval.

Formula One fuel is one of the most tightly controlled fuels within the motorsport world, with the chemical and physical parameters dictated by the FIA. The regulations imposed are designed to foster the development of road car fuels and as such specific power-boosting chemical compounds are banned and all chemical ingredients are highly monitored.After the introduction of 5.75 per cent by weight of bio-oxygenate in Formula One fuel in 2008, the FIA continues its quest to develop technological innovation through the pinnacle of motorsport. Shell will, once again, be working alongside Scuderia Ferrari to develop new fuel blends within the regulations and keep Ferrari one step ahead of the competition.Once developed, a fuel is rigorously tested by Shell and Ferrari and then submitted to the FIA for approval. Having gained approval the fuel is then ready to race and it is here that the Shell Track Lab comes into its own. The Shell Track Lab, located within the Ferrari compound and present at every Formula One race of the season.

The Shell Track Lab is a mobile unit where Shell technicians provide Scuderia Ferrari with a full analysis of fuel and lubricant samples at every race, using cutting-edge technology. In the Shell Track Lab, Shell scientists conduct more than 40 tests per race weekend on the Shell V-Power and Shell Helix race products used in the cars, to ensure that the drivers will be able to get the maximum performance at all times.

Using the gas chromatography method, the Shell trackside team regularly analyses the fuel, taking extreme care to ensure that it remains legal and in prime condition during the race weekend. The FIA can take a sample of fuel at any time during the race weekend. If a sample taken by the FIA doesn’t match the pre-approved fuel profile, the team can ultimately be disqualified.

Working within these boundaries, Shell chemists still have the flexibility to excel and develop fuel in the constant battle to increase performance.

Shell, who already consider their fuels and lubricants actual components of the car, has to date helped Ferrari to win 12 Formula One Drivers' World Titles and 10 Formula One Constructors' World Championships, and in continuing that successful relationship under the new fuel rules, spent many hundreds of hours and carried out over 10,000 kilometres of testing of their new formula.

Over 60 years of shared passion for performance with Scuderia Ferrari has seen the Shell team continuously advance their fuel and lubricant formulas to meet the needs of changing engine technology. Shell has a database of over 11,000 samples of fuels and lubricants, used on daily basis to aid product development.

Shell says its technical partnership with Ferrari provides the perfect test bed for Shell road products - including the fuels and lubricants readily available for our road-going cars - and that its continued involvement with Ferrari and motor racing in general will further help develop and produce better fuels and lubricants well in to the future.