The Shell-Ferrari partnership is one of the greatest partnerships in Formula One’s history. Everywhere you go in Maranello, there is a sense of pride, and both Shell and Ferrari are proud of their achievements together. The statistics are all for the partnership, and when you look at them, you can see why. Both Shell and Ferrari were keen to tell us about these statistics as we sat in the Ferrari boardroom at the start of our visit to Maranello…
Ferrari are very proud of their championship successes together with Shell, having won 12 Formula One World Drivers’ and 10 World Constructors’ Championship crowns with their support, contesting in more than 470 Formula One races together, winning over 155, and scoring more than 2,000 World Championship points as a partnership. It’s also worth mentioning that while the Formula One World Constructors’ Championship was only established in 1958, had it been created the same year as the World Drivers’ Championship, Ferrari would have won an additional five Constructors’ World Championship crowns with Shell.
One really interesting statistic both Shell and Ferrari are keen to highlight is the quantity of racing fuel Shell provided to Michael Schumacher during his career at Ferrari, and it’s clear to see why when you realise it is over an astonishing 181,000 litres. 99% of the chemistry in that Shell V-Power race fuel is identical to the chemistry used in the Shell V-Power road fuel that can be bought at Shell forecourts, but it is the remaining one per cent that allows enough experimentation to help give Ferrari the edge on the track, and it is that edge that helped Schumacher secure five Drivers’ World Championships with the team.
The Shell-Ferrari partnership began back in 1929, when Shell sponsored Enzo Ferrari as a racing driver. In the same year Enzo formed Scuderia Ferrari – a racing outfit to support Alfa Romeo, and with partners such as Shell on board, he established the company we know today as Ferrari S.p.A, in 1947. In 1950, Ferrari participated in the first ever round of the Formula One World Championship at Silverstone with the support of Shell, and a year later, the Ferrari V12 engine was born. By developing a normally-aspirated 4.5 litre engine, the Ferrari used significantly less fuel than its super-charged rivals, and worked efficiently with the fuel specially blended by Shell, and Ferrari was powered to its first ever Formula One win at Silverstone with Shell in 1951.
After Alberto Ascari became the first driver to win a Formula One World Championship with Ferrari in 1952, the 1953 Shell-powered 500 F2 proved itself to be the best car in the field, with Ascari’s five wins bringing the Drivers’ Title home once more, as Ferrari completed a winning streak of 14 consecutive victories – a record that remains unbeaten today.
In 1971 aerodynamics started to come into play and the Ferrari 312 represented the team’s transition to the modern incarnation of Formula One, with a more standard race fuel, while in 1996, the first ever V10-powered Ferrari made its Formula One debut and was fuelled and lubricated by Shell. 1996 eventually marked the beginning of the most successful period in Ferrari’s history, as Michael Schumacher joined the team, and it was at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, in torrential rain, where Schumacher won his first ever race in a Shell-powered Ferrari.
In 1999, after a brilliant team effort between Eddie Irvine, Schumacher and Mika Salo (who replaced Schumacher after he broke his leg in Silverstone), Ferrari secured their third Constructors’ Title. Upon making a return in 2000, Schumacher began his dominating winning streak, winning his first of five consecutive Drivers’ Titles with Ferrari, while Rubens Barrichello, who joined the team that year, helped to secure the team their fourth Constructors’ Title.
In 2001, at the wheel of the F2001 F1, Schumacher and Barrichello clinched Ferrari’s fifth Constructors’ Championship Title supported by Shell, while following the Hungarian Grand Prix, two months before the end of the season, Schumacher claimed Ferrari’s eighth Drivers’ Title early.
In 2002, having won an astonishing 15 races, Ferrari secured yet another Constructors’ Championship, amassing 221 points, equalling the points earned by all the other teams put together throughout the season. A year later they followed their success by taking a record fifth consecutive Constructors’ World Championship, while Schumacher won a record sixth Drivers’ World Championship, and the F2003-GA proved to be an awesome Formula One car. With great handling and excellent reliability, supported by the work done with Shell, the car was highly regarded as one of Ferrari’s best.
A sixth consecutive Constructors’ Title for Ferrari arrived early in Hungary in 2004, and Schumacher was crowned champion for the fifth time in a row with the team. Taking 15 out of 18 victories that season and securing both Championships without a single technical failure of the car, 2004 was an incredibly successful year for the Ferrari team.
With Schumacher retiring at the end of the 2006 season, a three-way fight for the title in Brazil at the end of the 2007 season saw Ferrari’s newest driver, Kimi Raikkonen, win his first Drivers’ Championship for the team. Joining forces with Felipe Massa, Raikkonen also helped Ferrari win the Constructors’ Title, giving the team a total of 12 Drivers’ Titles and nine Constructors’ Titles won with the support of Shell up until that point. Shell was also awarded the prestigious President’s Prize by Ferrari.
In 2008, after an exciting Brazilian Grand Prix that went right down to the penultimate corner, Ferrari won their 10th Constructors’ Title with Shell, with Felipe Massa just missing out on the Drivers’ Championship by a single point to Lewis Hamilton.
In 2010, Fernando Alonso joined the Scuderia Ferrari team as Shell V-Power celebrated their 450th race with the team at the Melbourne Grand Prix, and were awarded the prestigious President’s Prize for the second time. In the same year, Shell signed an agreement with Ferrari that takes the long-standing fuels and lubricants technical partnership with the team through to at least 2015. Today, the long-standing successful partnership continues.
So that’s the history of Shell and Ferrari’s partnership, but that’s not quite it for this piece, as while I was in Maranello, I met Carlo Tazzioli, former Head of Ferrari Sponsorship, to talk about Shell and Ferrari’s historical partnership, where it all began and how the relationship works today. Having worked with Enzo Ferrari, Carlo has all the stories, and knows everything about Shell and Ferrari’s history. You can see my interview with Carlo below…