Femail ferrari scientist working in a lab


Tasked with providing technical support to Scuderia Ferrari throughout a Formula 1® season, at least two members of the Shell Track Lab team are on hand at every race on the calendar to assist with fuel and oil analysis, ensuring the legality of the former while monitoring for signs of engine wear in the latter.

This is, undoubtedly, a position of great privilege – the front line of Shell’s Innovation Partnership with Scuderia Ferrari – which also makes it the perfect vantage point from which to evaluate the work the two companies are doing to try and power the most successful team in the sport to yet more glory.

“To work in Formula 1 is a great thrill, but the developments Shell is making with Scuderia Ferrari at the top of the sport are genuinely exciting, whether you are one of the millions of fans who tunes in around the world or a customer on any Shell forecourt,” said Guy Lovett, Shell Motorsport Innovation Manager.

“In 2015, we were able to make great strides as a result of our close collaboration with everyone at Maranello, but it’s not all about performance on the track. Shell works with all of its motorsports partners because they provide the ideal test bed in which to develop and showcase the products we offer our customers on the road. The work we do with Scuderia Ferrari is a crucial factor in this.”

Few could dispute Formula 1’s role as an ideal platform upon which to showcase Shell products and their technical excellence. This is especially true, when you consider that Shell V-Power race fuel and Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology race lubricant delivered an unparalleled 25% of total performance gain to the SF15-T Formula 1 power unit in 2015, giving almost half a second per lap, which equated to an average of 30 seconds over a race distance.

Guy Lovett and Kimi Raikkonen promoting shell-v-power

Quite a feat, and one that would not have been possible without the 21,000 hours that over 50 Shell scientists dedicate to the Innovation Partnership every year. It is this commitment that helped Sebastian Vettel notch up three wins in 2015 en route to third in the FIA Formula One World Drivers’ Championship, a feat that Shell will hope the team can build upon this season.

“When the team has success you can’t help but be proud of the role you have played in it, which is one of the great benefits of the work we do,” explains Alan Wardle, Shell Trackside Analyst.

Sentiments echoed by Ian Albiston, Shell Formula 1 Trackside Delivery Manager, who is well placed to comment having been an integral part of Shell’s association with Scuderia Ferrari for more than 15 years.

He said: “We really do feel like part of the team when we are at races, as well as when we are on-site at the factory in Maranello, and there can be few greater thrills professionally for any of us than when we see the prancing horse crossing that finish line first.”

Evocative words, but when put in this context, completely understandable. To work at the top of your field can be thrilling enough in itself, and that is certainly true of the work that the Shell Track Lab team are doing day-to-day. However, when you throw in the inherently exciting world of Formula 1 and an iconic institution such as Scuderia Ferrari, few could blame anyone involved for experiencing a little extra frisson.

This will undoubtedly be true for the latest recruit to the Shell Track Lab team, Jennifer Plückhahn, who embarks on her first season. For someone so young – a mere 22 years old – this could be considered a daunting environment to enter, but having grown up as a trainee within Shell, she is ready to contribute to the extensive technical service the team offer Scuderia Ferrari at every race.

She said: “I’m really excited to join the team. I’ve gained experience at testing and am excited to get to some races. I’ve also spent time at the Scuderia Ferrari factory in Maranello, where I have worked on the new fly-away lab. It’s just really cool to be putting my training with Shell to such exciting use.”

Speaking of which, that particular lab that is flown to every race situated outside of Europe, has been completely redesigned with the goal of making it lighter and therefore more efficient to transport. With the Formula 1 calendar visiting every corner of the globe, such savings will be critical in lowering the carbon footprint of this particular Shell programme.

“Formula 1 is known for its pursuit of innovative technology and space age materials, and the fly-away lab will be no different – we’ve put carbon fibre everywhere!” says Trackside Analyst, Drew Stinton, who has been responsible for managing much of this transformation, which has seen the lab’s weight reduced by some 20%.

“The work we do at races is critical to the performance of Scuderia Ferrari, testing upwards of 40 fuel and 30 oil samples respectively over the course of a weekend. However, the work we have done on the lab, while less tangible or indeed visible to many, is crucial to Shell in its quest for optimum efficiency in the Formula 1 programme.”

Exciting times then for all of those involved in Shell’s Innovation Partnership with Scuderia Ferrari, but especially the Track Lab Team, as they look to power the team to an 11th FIA Formula One World Constructors’ Championship™ together.

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