New Fuel for Malaysian GP
Malaysian GP - Ferrari_Shell - Preview

Rule changes introduced to Formula One during the winter have been wide-sweeping, but none were as radical as the changes made to the qualifying sessions. In a drastic change from 2002, drivers now have only one flying lap in which to qualify for the race. As Formula One embraces the changes, Shell has been giving the new rules serious thought and has set about developing fuels that will help keep them and Ferrari at the top of the sport.

Qualifying's biggest revision however, centres around the fact that the cars in which the drivers qualify are the same cars in which they will race. Gone are the days of the specialised qualifying cars designed to last just for 12 laps, as cars now move from qualifying to race without the teams being able to touch them as they are locked the parc fermé over night.

The teams have only used this system once so far, at the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago. However, with Formula One being the imaginative sport that it is, they have been investing a great deal of time in devising the optimum tactics for a race weekend. The main obstacle strategists have had to overcome is that of a car's weight during qualifying. Without the chance to top up a car's tank, the cars speed in qualifying is determined by its race weight, or in other words, its fuel load.

As Ferrari's technical partner, Shell has played a key role in developing the optimum blend of fuel for the Ferrari team. A powerful Shell fuel that powers the Ferrari drivers to the front row of the grid will not necessarily lead to race wins if the car has to stop early into the race for top ups. Equally, an efficient Shell fuel may hardly require the cars to stop during the race, but their speed may not be competitive.

Shell's renewed effort was praised by Ferrari's Managing Director Jean Todt at the last race in Australia stating that Shell has used all its resources to make the best possible products available to them. The “best possible products” to which he referred were in fact a brand new Shell fuel. The race result itself was muddied with inclement weather which did not give the fuel a chance to shine on Sunday, but the results of Saturday's dry qualifying laps certainly showed the team's potential with Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello starting the race from the front row of the grid.

“We are continually developing fuels for Ferrari throughout the year,” said Mike Copson of Shell Global Solutions, “and the fuel that we brought to Melbourne and will take to Malaysia began its life months ago. It is an evolution of the fuel we used in Japan in 2002, before the new qualifying rules came into effect. Needless to say, we are keeping a very close eye on how these new regulations effect the race weekends and we are in constant discussion with Ferrari to develop new fuels as necessary. I expect to see a shift in attention towards fuel economy as the season progresses and the teams get to grips with the new race strategies.”