THE FERRARI-SHELL ROMANCE

Formula 1 is a rigorous test bed for automative engineering and products generated from it are eventually used in road cars. The long-running Ferrari-Shell partnership has delivered many of these goods and along the way won a record number world titles for the team.

EVEN IF they don’t openly admit it, Ferrari is every driver’s dream destination. Some make it, some don’t.

They are not the only ones attracted to the Scuderia team. As Formula 1 is a test bed for products that ultimately find their way to everyday consumers, top players in the auto industry also have Ferrari on their wish list.

The attraction is two-fold: Ferrari’s passion for motor racing and its art in engineering. It’s written in the DNA of the Italian team because the sports cars they produce is a by-product of their motor racing passion.

Founder Enzo Ferrari started a racing team in 1929 for Alfa Romeo. When the two sides split 10 years later, he went on to build his own sports cars for racing. And it was only in 1947 that he rolled out Ferrari’s first road cars.

A Ferrari hallmark that attract drivers and technology corporations to the team is the “family” treatment extended to them. And unless there are extenuating reasons, existing partnerships seldom breakdown.

One Ferrari partnership that has stood the test of time is with petrochemical giant Shell. The Anglo-Dutch company started backing Enzo since 1929 and it developed into a technology cooperation that is still rocked solid today.

At the recent Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix Ferrari development driver Marc Gene said the lasting relationship has produced 15 drivers and 16 constructors’ (team) titles, which is the most of any F1 team.

“At Ferrari we like continuity as a family,” said Gene. “And we work with the same people for a long time and the results prove that this is the way it works. With Shell it is the longest partnership and probably the most successful partnership in the history of Formula 1.

“We’ve won more together than anyone. The way Formula 1 is going now with new engines you need to innovate a lot. And for next year also we are pushing very hard to make sure the results are good. So Shell is a partner that we could innovate.”

The essence of their partnership is to innovate technology that is put under the ultimate test in the most extreme conditions in F1. When it passes muster, the technology eventually finds its way to the consumer. This is what Shell has been doing for its products, said Gene.

Added the Spaniard: “First of all we are the only company where there is real exchange of technology from the race track to the road cars. And also with Shell, there is really an exchange of information between what you see here and what people get at the fuel pump. The fuel is 99 per cent the same. And Ferrari is the only brand where what we develop in F1 is brought into the Ferrari road cars. No other company does that.”

Fresh off the fuel production line in this close partnership is Shell’s V-Power Nitro+ fuel, which replaced V-Power at the petroleum company’s pumps all over Singapore last month.

It is Shell’s latest generation premium performance fuel that contains 25 per cent more friction reducer. What this means is that the fuel is designed to act instantly to reduce friction in critical engine areas.

The result is that it helps the engine to deliver more power to the wheels. And according to Shell engineers, the new fuel is also designed to clean and protect vital engine parts to restore the car’s performance.

Added the company’s fuels scientist Mae Ascan: “Shell V-Power Nitro+ is our latest breakthrough in fuels innovation and at Shell, the development of fuels technology never stops. We have around 120 fuels scientists and specialists across the globe working on fuels research and development to meet the evolving needs of customers and their cars.”

Editor’s note: I loaded up a near-empty tank with Shell V-Power Nitro+ on my eight-year-old Kia Cerato and there was a noticeable smoother change in the drive ride after a day or two. I’m not kidding and I usually fuel up with a 95.