Shell V-power Ferrari

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…

  • I never understood the big deal with petrol/oil sponsors in F1; you NEVER hear anyone; from any engineering journal or text I have ever read to the most seasoned F1 analyst discuss a car having better oil or fuel than another.

    And this article is just a suspiciously generic description of Ferrari’s achievements; how on earth can the kind of fans on this F1 blog be fooled into thinking it was Shell that brought Ferrari any part of it’s success; Red Bull use Total fuel, why don’t you say Total bring success now?. Ferrari would have been just as successful on Petrobras or Mobil or Chevron. If you are going to blag for sponsor money at least do it with some respect for your readers, rather than just copy-paste the ‘Shell Ferrari’ website’s history page.

    There’s nothing wrong with sponsorship; but I still have this bizarre notion that you should only promote products you personally believe in. And if you believe Shell makes a difference in F1 then you really have lost a lot of credibility as an F1 writer.

    • I’m not sure but perhaps you missed the stories that Laura has posted regarding our work this year with Shell. This is a continuation of that work as Laura visited Maranello to look at the history and technology used by Shell and Ferrari.

      Oil and fuel is a very large part of F1 and crucial to its performance. Laura’s interview (not a copy-n-paste) with Carlo explains some of that technology and history.

      We are honored to be part of Shell’s V-Power Champions along with James Allen and others but we do not receive advertising money from Shell to run these stories as a content-as-marketing campaign. We truly are interested in the technology and relationship as it represents a very historic and successful part of F1 and we believe our readers, as evidenced in comments below, are interested in the information.

      Shell has been a terrific partner to work with and while other companies exist in F1, Shell has taken the opportunity to allow in-depth stories and technical data to be shared via sites like ours so F1 fans can better understand how their products impact the sport. At the risk of sounding contrary, I believe you may be underestimating the importance of fuel and lubricants in F1 and perhaps our continued work with Shell will help in understanding it better.

      Oh…while Shell is not a sponsor of our site, nor is anyone else, we would be honored to have them as a partner of F1B. If that seems base, then can we count on you to help us offset the cost of running F1B? Now who’s blagging who? ;)

    • the drivers seat

      As Grace says “are you knew to F1”, fuel & oil has been a huge technology advantage in F1 since the beginning of time, especially now with the engine freeze, even down to grassroots racing the correct fuel and oil can make a big difference to success and lack of it. In my honest opinion Shell make the best street fuel, just ask my car and even my wife.
      It’s ok not to understand it, it’s another thing to then blag on people that do.

      • PNWbrit

        Your wife prefers shell lubricants?

  • Williams4Ever

    Aah the Shell Ferrari sponsor, one symbol of rampant sponsor poaching in F1, Ferrari had early lead in the game with Marlboro, Shell. But McLaren came back so strongly that in doing so it poached sponsors of not only Ferrari,but occasionally team that was ethical enough not to go for sponsors of rival team, unless sponsor scrapped the deal and walked out of one of its rivals….

  • UK Blues

    It’s remarkable, when you get to find out, just how crucial a good Fuel/Oil partnership is for F1 Teams and Engine Manufacturers. More often than not the whole issue is ignored, in ignorance, by fans that know nothing about it (which isn’t necessarily their fault).

    As a ‘for instance’, fuel samples are taken at every race by the FIA as a direct result of previous ‘fuel wars’ that were headline news at the time but seem to have been forgotten about by folks who perfer to think that ‘it’s just gas’. Nope, bitching in complete disregard of the facts is just gas.

    If a lubricant or hydraulic fluid doesn’t do its job propery – Bang! If the octane level in a fuel is wrong, or some other aspect of its complex chemical make-up is out of line – Bang!

    One of the more recent insights into F1 fuels and oils – and just how much thought, development, review and effort goes into it – is available on Peter Windsor’s website: – the video was recorded by Peter for his online show The Flying Lap, episode 23 available here: (good to see F1B’s Todd McCandless on Episode 17)

    The Ferrari/Shell partnership has been superb and fully deserves mention, as do other tie-ups like McLaren/Mobil 1. More of the ‘less obvious’ reports please – a better understanding of the WHOLE SPORT leads to a greater enjoyment thereof.

    • Thanks mate. I am glad you have enjoyed reading about Shell and their products in F1. Peter’s links are great and spot on. Laura visited their location in the UK and discovered how they make fuel. It’s fascinating the tolerances that not only Shell and Ferrari set but what the regulations will allow. There is a lot of work out there being done and you’re right about controversy…remember the freezing or cooling of the fuel to enhance performance? I believe it was BMW right?

      Anyway, thanks for shedding some light from a fans perspective on the issue.

      • UK Blues

        Yeah, I do remember that (super-cooled fuel). Wasn’t it done so they could increase combustion and reduce volume at the same time?

        Incidentally, I’m new here (found this site as a direct result of Episdode 17 – see above). Can someone please point me towards Laura’s Shell reports? Thanks.

        • WElcome to F1B! Great to have you here. You can search Shell or Laura. I will categorize them for you this evening to make it easier to find. Sorry about that.

          • UK Blues

            Thank you.

  • Oh dear; that was terribly ignorant of me. Sorry for my little tirade. When I read obvious ‘historical’ stuff like this:

    ‘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.’

    It all just sounded rather basic and obvious compared to the normal writing you all do on the blog.

    But this blog isn’t a place for the kind of misinformed ranting I did and I apologise again.

    Like you all said, it’s been largely ignored by the press and technical analysts, (unless its “Shell’s V-Power Super Duper Champions”). I guess it’s not described in the same technical detail as aero etc because fuel is directly linked to horsepower and fuel efficiency; which are things F1 teams are very secretive about, no-one seems to know what the Ferrari-Shell engine is doing compared to Renault-Elf/Total or Mercedes-Mobil units, much to my annoyance.

    Again sorry, I should have known the facts before even considering to comment.

    • No worries Spleen, we all have those moments. The fuel and oil story is really an interesting one and it’s most likely due to lack of access that it gets very little coverage. For that reason alone, I think it’s terrific of Shell to open the doors. There are a lot of terrific people who worked very hard to bring us this info and I know that you appreciate that.

      We’re working hard on the next story in the series. I will divulge, in the the spirit of transparency, that I’ve been buying Shell petrol/gas for many years now. :) how’s that for disclosure. ;)

  • GD

    Here’s a Shell commercial shown in Europe, which illustrates how Shell leverage their sponsorship with Ferrari beautifully.

    Ferrari pulled several of their original race cars from various ages out of
    storage, flew them around the world, and filmed them running through the
    streets of Rome, Rio, New York, Hong Kong, Honolulu, and Monaco. The best
    part is the sound – from the basso-profundo notes of the early cars, each scene cuts to a later generation, ending with the wail of a modern
    F1 car.

    Brings a tear to the eye…

    • tobytubes

      Enjoyed that!

    • Laura Marieee

      Fantastic footage! It portrays the partnership beautifully! Thanks for posting the link :)

  • tobytubes

    Can you imagine the uproar if the FIA went from fuel regulations and tolerances to a “control fuel” – That’d be a lot of unhappy sponsors!

    From the “99% the same chemistry” (we’re 95% the same DNA as a fly or something arn’t we?), sounds good, but then a lot of the chemistry is going be the same for all fuels, they’ve all been distilled from crude at some point. What is far more interesting is the different ways different companies play with that 1% difference.

    As for the articles, I’ve found them interesting, and yes, it’s Shell/Ferrari’s viewpoint being presented, but it’s acknowledged and presented as such, so I’ve no problem with that.

  • PNWbrit

    All that “history” in you editorialsment but not a single mention of Agip having been a Ferrari sponsor for at least ~25 years?

    • 21 years, from 74 to 95, but I take your point :-)

      I was at the Shell/Ferrari event myself and it was interesting to see how integrated some of their technologies are. Ferrari even have 3 petrol stations onsite at the Ferrari factory and every car leaves the factory with a tank of Shell V-Power.

      End of the day, Laura and the rest of us got to sit in the Ferrari board room, got to interview the head of engine development and other notables at Ferrari. That access isn’t particularly easy to get and you know another way to get it outside of the Shell Network of Champions, good luck to you! I certainly learnt a lot.