Secrets of Ferrari’s fuel wizards

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Magny-Cours, 2004, 470150

I was at Silverstone yesterday as a guest of Shell Helix to produce an article for a magazine for car dealers I write for.

Along with a few other journalists I had the chance to eat lunch with Ian Albiston, Shell’s Formula One Project Manager, who works on developing the fuels Ferrari use at Grand prix weekends. And he had a very interesting tale to tell about Michael Schumacher’s famous win at Magny-Cours in 2004.

Schumacher beat Fernando Alonso that day using an aggressive, four-stop refuelling strategy. It was only possible thanks to the short pit lane at Magny-Cours that made such an approach viable.

However until talking to Ian today I hadn’t appreciated it was also made possible because Shell had created a special fuel for Ferrari specifically taiored to a four-stop refuelling strategy.

He explained they even go so far as to tailer fuels to individual tracks and race scenarios. On another occasion they tailored their race fuel to allow Ferrari to use a one-stop strategy at Montreal.

A specially-tailored fuel will typically give an improvement of 0.1s per lap, but that can be enough to swing a race. It’s attention to details like this that keep a team like Ferrari winning year-in, year-out.

I’ll post my full article on Shell Helix and Ferrari here after it is published. I’m also covering the British Grand Prix for Auto Trader this weekend and you can read some of the articles and blog posts for the site here: