Shell says it is still finding major gains for Ferrari with its fuels and engine oils and expects to announce a further step forward ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
Ferrari introduced a power unit upgrade at the Belgian Grand Prix last year and duly won courtesy of Sebastian Vettel, with fuel development being credited with 20% of the gains made. Shell’s F1 fuel development manager Benoit Poulet says significant gains are “definitely” still being found through fuel development for the current power units, and believes Melbourne will see a further step forward announced.
“You can see it in two ways,” Poulet said. “There is the Shell claim of working alongside Ferrari — we have transparency so we know the numbers — and we have been able to claim on the Shell share of the performance improvements for many years. There is a new claim coming in Australia, but typically all of the numbers have been over 20%, so Shell fuels and oil have been constantly bringing in over 20% of the performance improvement.
“The absolute numbers are still really high. People expected they would flatten a bit but it’s still really high numbers coming from the fuel and oil development in absolute values. What’s been made public and will be made public again is the share, and the share is over 20%.
“They are not quick wins or one-shot performance. The innovation partnership has been built on time and building on it with trust. So the claims to come are not solely focused on the package for Australia — it will be something over a bigger time period.”
While Poulet references the improvement made in Belgium last year, he says fuel development now also takes into account ways it could have an impact on chassis performance as well as the power unit.
“One thing which is clear is we had a really good reliability level and we wanted to build on that, to really get the reliability on the top level and extract even more performance inside the same level of reliability. So one of the core focuses of the engineering development has been really getting inside the regulation framework, achieving the same level of reliability but pushing the performance level even more.
“On the fuel development it has been to build on the foundations of the really good performance improvement that we had in Belgium. We had that win at the same time we introduced the new power unit and fuel package. Building on this has been one of our key targets. We have some really strong simulation tools that we’ve been developing and getting more and more of these simulations, including trade-offs from the chassis side.
“The top performance from the power unit comes from really efficient fuel, but also getting some of the chassis benefits included in the simulations. That means when two fuels are at the same performance, we can also be able to see the extra benefits that they will bring to the chassis.”