F1 Winter Break
How close is F1 fuel to road car fuel?
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Aug 2011   |  8:29 am GMT  |  135 comments

Ferrari and their partner Shell carried out an fascinating experiment last week, which hasn’t been tried before in the modern era. They wanted to see how the Shell V Power road car fuel you can buy on the forecourt would perform in an F1 car and how it would compare with the race fuel Ferrari use.

The FIA regulations stipulate that Formula One race fuels must be composed of compounds normally found in commercial fuels, but there are some tightly controlled areas where they can innovate with additives for more power or to control temperatures and such like. A lot of work goes into this.

The outcome was surprising, as UK viewers may have seen at the weekend in this piece Jake Humphrey did about it.

Fernando Alonso did the comparison test at Fiorano with a 2009 Ferrari F1 car (a two year old car is allowed to test under FIA rules, but not one more recent) and drove four laps using the race fuel, setting a fastest lap time of 1:03.950. He then did a similar length run on the road car fuel and was 9/10ths slower, the race fuel being notably superior in pick up and acceleration, but the road fuel amazingly was faster in top speed at the end of the straight.

“99% of the chemistry in Shell V-Power race fuel is identical to the chemistry used in the road fuel that can be bought at Shell forecourts,” said Alonso. “The Shell V-Power road fuel felt just as quick as the Formula One fuel. It’s a nice surprise.”

Check out the video below. There’s an interesting explanation from Alonso of the telemetry showing the results of the comparison test.

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Did Alonso also comment on how Raikkonen's 2009 Ferrari perform? I remember Dominicali said at the end of 2009 he's going to bin it! LOL!!


Yes I wonder if they have a lap time from Raikkonen to compare!


Wow, I'll have to start buying vpower. 🙂


No sense just buying it just because of this. Many cars just don't generate high enough compression to take advantage of the higher octane, so if that's your car and you buy the V Power stuff, you're just throwing away money.

My Honda isn't a slow car, but is only rated for normal, premium unleaded.


I don't think V-Power is a case of higher octane.

I run my TVR on V-Power and there is no doubt that it makes a lot of difference. After four tankfulls the car ticked over lower, the low end power was noticeably better and the exhaust noise improved significantly on the over run. Temperature readings dropped a bit, although as my car is a TVR this could be for any number of reasons, one of which might even be that the water temperature was higher.

I think any improvement in petrol consumption would be outweighed by the increase in the available performance/sound. I'm not sure which inmprovement encourages greater use of the throttle.

After a year I was told that alternate fillings of VP and 95-RON would make no difference and I have to say that this proved correct.

I must admit to being a convert.



Thanks for replying.

I did an article on 'superfuels', mainly via BP's version. The chap said that the RON was of little consequence. It was there to make the fuel universally acceptable. The main difference was the additives. I'm away from my notes at the moment but in essence the problem with petrol marketing is that it is price led. Raise the cost by half a p and sales plummet.

The superfuels have to be more than a little better so they bung as many additives as they can into it. It cleans, it coats, it burns more evenly, more quickly and lots of more mores. [This is shorn of the technical language that accosted me and is all the better for it.]

For pricing they worked out how much savings a 4-year (?) car would make, halved it and that was the cost of the fuel over the base. The savings are not so strong after the cleaning and such are established, hence the half and half refills.

I am not the most sensitive driver but I can tell the difference.

My TVR is RV8 engined - hence the awful pun with my nom-de-plume - and should run quite happily on 95, except in France.

All I can say is that I notice the difference. Whether it is worth the extra or not is difficult to say.


V Power is 98 RON, whereas standard unleaded is 95 RON. Your TVR's compression ratio will be more than high enough to take advantage of that, so you will be getting the full benefit.

My point was aimed more at drivers of normal cars and 'warm' hatches who might be seduced into paying extra money for a high octane fuel like V Power, but are unaware that their car probably doesn't have a high enough compression ratio to take advantage of the richer fuel. They are literally throwing money away, just like I would if I put Super Unleaded in my CR-Z.


well 9/10 difference on a track as short as Fiorano isn't what I call a close performance. Which is good news for shell racing fuel developers.


It's more than 1% difference actually, because many phases of the lap (breaking, turn in and exit) are determined by the car dynamics and aerodynamics rather than the engine performance. The engine performance matters only on the straights.

So when you have a 1% or so gap on that lap, the difference between the 2 fuels is much more than that.


Since when is less than 1% difference not close? I am sure teams like HRT and Virgin would do anything to get within 1% of Ferrari's pace just by switching fuels.


Your mixup of contexts aside, I think you'll see at Spa that 1.4 seconds off of the pole position will probably get a car in the top ten of the grid (Spa being slightly more than 100 seconds per lap). I'd say that's pretty darn "close" when we are talking about the difference between a highly customized fuel mix and one any Joe can put in his gas tank at the local pump, let alone the difference between the two different RACE tire compounds used each weekend which is nearly as high.


Yeah but if we had in Q3, 2 red bulls ahead of the others by 1.4 seconds in a 100-second lap, is that close?!! 😛


Oops my math was off a bit. It is actually more like 1.4% difference but that is STILL very close, all things considered.


That's exactly what they want you to do 🙂 This whole project has just been started up to promote the Shell V Power fuel


I do already and do notice more low end torque, but can't really tell if there's any more top end power. MPG is actually slightly worse than standard unleaded, despite what the marketing says, 18.2 vs 19.4!


Interesting, before the weekend and now this I had thought road and race fuel to be very different indeed with perhaps a few shared intrinsic properties. Don’t know why I thought this mind! This news is a marketing dream for Shell!


Now I want to see the same F1 car use two different F1 fuel types to see what the difference is between competitors! Someone might be getting half a second from their fuel for all we know! Anyone know who all the fuel suppliers are and who they supply or where I can look it up in a nicely digestible table?


just look at the oil company sponsors on the cars: Shell, Mobile, Total etc etc


haha yes mobil.




Just look at the liveries....

Mercedes have Petronas (Mercedes engine)

McLaren have Mobile (Mercedes engine)

Force India have Mobile (Mercedes engine)

Ferrari have Shell (Ferrari engine)

Torro Rosso have Shell (Ferrari engine)

Sauber have Shell (Ferrari engine)

Renault have Total (Renault engine)

Red Bull have Total (Renault engine)

Team Lotus have Total (Renault engine)

Williams have BP (Cosworth engine)

HRT have BP (Cosworth engine)... insert joke about BP's oil leak in gulf and the HRT's handling like driving on oil here

Virgin have ???? I'm guessing BP but I can't see on wiki and I'm not going searching for it.

In Short, the engine is suprisingly enough connected to the fuel and oils used. Total with Renault, BP with Cosworth, Shell with Ferrari and Mobile with Mercedes, although I'm not sure if the Petronas is just branding or what the story is there.

Could JAMES ALLEN maybe explain Mercedes' fuel?

Just look up the cars for 2011 on wikipedia if you can't remember the livery.


Pastor Maldonado and Williams are backed by PDVSA which is a Venezuelan state owned oil company and in the past we have seen them backed by PetroBras the brazilian oil firm


wow, interesting post


it is not unknown for cars sponsored by oil companies to use another companies oils, I know AMSOIL used to supply some major oil branded F1 teams!


I think they started using 'pump fuel' from mid 1992.

Before that, the concoctions were literally more akin to toxic rocket fuel, such were the exotic materials used.

Agip(who supplied Ferrari in the 80's to mid 90's), were said to have a VERY potent brew.


...known as "Jungle Juice"... potent indeed!


I saw the piece on Saturday(?) - very interesting indeed. It would have been nice to learn a bit more about exactly how they differ, although maybe that'd give away too many team secrets!

Also, I must say I'm really coming round to Alonso this season. I went off him during his stint at McLaren, as I suspect a lot of Brits did, but I tend to enjoy watching him race more now he is settled and happy at Ferrari, and it's always good to have another protagonist in there mixing it up at the front.


James featured a link to the Shell site a few months ago where you could play with the ingredients and devise your own fuel. Can't remember what month.


I think it was April


You have someone else in agreement with you Dave. I think that Fernando has really become the 'patriarch' of the field and greatly respected by all. By seeing him and Lewis talking at Jenson's celebration perhaps their enmity is subsiding as well.


I think he has matured a lot. I really hated him 05 - 07 (07 for obvious reasons, 06 mainly because he sung "we are the champions" on team radio when he "won" the Japanese GP because Schumacher's engine blew up i.e. through luck not skill).

That said, right now he's clearly getting the most from his car and making F1 as a whole more interesting. And what before was perhaps over-competitiveness has mellowed to simple, pure determination. That I can respect.


I agree. After his year of chucking toys out of the pram at Mclaren, I despised his antics. Now he's at a team where he can be the no.1 driver without issues I've developed a certain level of respect for him.


yeah i really agree about Alonso, and Silverstone sealed it for me. When he's at the front in a car that can hack it he's imperious.


Agreed, David, what I once considered to be petulance I now ascribe the Latin flair. I too enjoy watching Alonso this year - he adds a style that so perfectly contrasts his other great contemporary (Hamilton) but is no less effective. Was nice to see him doing card tricks as well!

Long may Hamilton and Alonso have relatively equal cars - the races they will produce will be better than everything that has gone before in my opinion (what a grand statement that is!). I realise it upsets people but I just happen to believe that Vetell will be left behind once Ferrari and McLaren have a car that is on the same planet as the RBR. We're already starting to see it this year!


i remember Schumacher testing same stuff few years ago, they take fuel from polish tank station in warsaw


Next up, Pirelli road tyres and a latte in the cup holder.


The road tires would be about 10~12 seconds a lap slower!


and they would probably explode.


Chunk would be the better verb to use... entire tread blocks would start flying off as the tire overheats, and eventually the rest of the tread would separate... after that, if the driver kept going, it could potentially explode. 😉


I saw the test they did and it was really amazing. The difference with the chronometer was barely a few tenths, and that compared to the amount of money spent on fuel F1 and its testing ... It's enough to think carefully.



I wonder how they avoided detonation with such a high compression engine.


good question, can someone from shell answer pleaze


The octane rating is the same as road fuel. By regulation the fuel must be the same (chemistry) wise as the commercially available fuel. I believe that the work they do is to ensure 100% consistency and they are allowed to alter some ratios for what is in the fuel. This is just my understanding though.


The octane rating of race fuel is NOT the same as road fuel...it is generally much higher to cope with the higher compression ratios generally found and almost certainly deployed in Formula 1 engines.

In order to run the F1 engine on V-Power, they would have remapped the engine management system with a retarded spark advance and a richer mixture...this was why the car had a slightly better top speed than the race fuel.

In response to other replies, if your car's is equipped with knock sensors , the engine management system will be able to increase the spark advance to take advantage of the better fuel quality - it can do this at the rate of several hundred times per second and vary the spark advance on a cylinder by cylinder basis. This improves both engine power, torque response and, if driven appropriately,fuel consumption i.e. the fuel burms more efficiently.

If you car does not have this technology, then V power will still give you some gains due to the other instrinsic properties of the fuel such as reduced friction, cleaner burn, less carbon deposits and so on.


@ Michael

yes ok peak torque will be at around 16000rpm, it's still very quick though, and detonation is not a big issue. i have on my laptop in front of me (unfortunately, even though the data is from an old engine, i can't share it) a comparison of petrobras race fuel, 97 octane, and 102 octane fuel on a cosworth F1 engine. the engine ran the same mapping on each fuel. peak power was at 19000rpm, peak torque at 17000. for info the 102 gave more power over the whole rev range, but it wasn't down to the octane - as you say, you need some form of knock detection to take advantage of a higher octane fuel, and the F1 race engines do not have knock detection, that's already taken care of with the mapping which they do on the dyno's. in this case, it was probably the density of the fuel which made most difference between the 97 and 102 octane.

lastly, i very much doubt that shell v-power has ever been anything like 104 octane. it's a fungible fuel - unlike shell optimax which was proprietary. there are fairly few components fuel there that are that high in octane anyway, and it doesn't follow that the light components boil off leaving high octane ones behind - octane is related to the chemistry of the fuel component rather than the boiling point. look at the properties of n-octane compared to iso-octane for example... similar boiling points, but one is basically 0 octane, the other is 100.


but of course, F1 engines only peak at 18000 - it's at max torque that they will, if any, experience detonation which would be further down the rev range.

I'm not "knocking" V-Power, if you excuse the pun, as I use it in my own road car and my race car (both MG's) and it certainly does make a difference in the road car, as it has knock sensors and can therefore advance the ignition until it detects engine knock but it does result in much sharper engine response and improved performance.

Additionally, V-Power is sold with a guaranteed minimum RON of 98...I have it on good authority (Shell's Thornton Research Centre is 20 miles from here) that a freshly delivered batch of V-Power can have a RON of up to 104, to allow for evaporation losses from storage tanks etc. hence, I suspect the batch of V-Power used in the test comparison was representative of freshly delivered fuel, which is probably pretty close to the octane value of the race fuel, which as somebody has previously mentioned, will have a very closely controlled "mix" to comply with FIA requirements although Shell will only ever quote a minimum octane for pump delivered V-Power.


there used to be, but currently isn't actually an upper octane limit on the race fuel, but it's not needed - at 18000rpm there's barely any time for knock. you want the fuel to combust as quickly as possible at those speeds. they would not have had to re-map the car in order to be able to run the pump fuel.


The FIA mandates Octane ratings between 95 and 102 RON which is 90-95 here in the US. I just filled my car with 92 Shell V-Power last night, no re-mapping necessary.

In order to run the F1 engine on commercially available V-Power fuel all they did was drive to the pump down the street from Maranello, fill up a container, drive back to Fiorina, fill up their multi-million dollar Ferrari F150º Italia, start the engine, drive. There is actually a video of it in the post.

Thanks for the refresher on decades old engine technology though.

Sorry for the tone, but the capitalized "NOT" seems rather snarky to me, especially when it is, quite literally, wrong.

Maybe we didn't see some behind the scenes footage, but if they altered anything on the car they would be charlatans. While I don't presume to know the ethical boundaries either Shell or Ferrari are willing to cross, I doubt they would have setup such an elaborate ruse for this minor event. Especially considering there is no reason pump gas wouldn't work, quite well it seems, in an F1 engine.


the last look in Fernando's eyes: "(with some proper remapping) we're on to another 0.6 seconds!"


I remember watching the tyre testing (as it was known) at Silverstone in 1991 before pump fuel was used, the smell of the fuel was really sickly, pungent and it used to almost make your eyes water. God knows what they used to put in it then.


Enjoyable clip.He's Awesome is Alonso,we're all blessed to have the current crop of top talent,best lineup for a decade+.

I appreciated the videography,certain parts appeared to have a subtle sepia tone which made that Ferrari look "oh so tasty"!.

Great piece thanks.


But what octane v-power? On a recent road trip to europe I saw a variety of v-powers around ranging from 95-100. The stuff in britain is 98-99 I believe. I'm betting they're using 100 here. Kind of makes a difference!


V-Power is the only (pump)fuel sold in the UK with a guaranteed minimum RON of 98. However, as per my previous post, may have an actual RON of up to 104 - i.e. When freshly delivered from the refinery, to allow for evaporation losses of the lighter fuel streams from the storage tanks at the petrol station.

I've also used Sunoco FIA spec race fuel (102 Octane) and this smells (and performs) completely different to pump fuel but still complies with FIA regs in terms of oxygen content, amount of benzene etc as well as having consistent quality across batches/delivery etc to ensure consistent performance for a particular engine setup.


A few years ago BP started selling BP Ultimate 102. It was the closest thing to race fuel but was £2.42 per litre. It wasn't that popular.


I'm interested as somebody who doesn't and can't drive, do people actually pick what fuel company they fill up from? I always just assumed you went to the nearest garage when your fuel tank was nearly empty, regardless of whether it was BP or Shell or Tesco. This always made me wonder why they spend so much on advertising, cos there's a bit of a duopoly and you can't go without fuel, must be the easiest marketing job ever.


Apart from Tesco Momentum (99 octane), the standard unleaded (95 octane) you will buy from most supermarkets will be produced to the lowest possible standards....that's why it sells at the lowest price. Some cars will run without any problems on this stuff but it is now well documented that there have been thousands of reported failures of catalysts and lambda sensors in current model cars which have been attributed to their intolerance to "poor" quality "supermarket" fuel.


Never even read the sign on a petrol station myself. Just pull in when necessary wherever is convenient (and no I am not rich).


i used to go to BP for their Ultimate Unleaded, but with my current car being a company car with a fuel card, I go to the station that takes the card 🙂


Price is a big factor. I've seen 6p a litre difference between unleaded fuels with a mile and this was in the days the supermarkets petrol was actually from Shell/Texaco.


The big signs on garages are always about price.

People (95%+) by petrol based on price.



Speaking personally, we fill the old estate with whatever's nearest and/or cheapest but the (even older!) performance car is always treated to the fuel we're discussing because I can feel the difference.


Massive Attack and The Prodigy in the soundtrack - gotta love BBC!


Back in the mid 1980s in the turbo era the fuels used changed during the 1983 season, that was why Prost told Renault that they couldn't win the championship because Brabham were using special fuel provided to BMW by Winterschall.

The main constituent in the fuel was toluene, or methyl-benzene. This showed up as having an RON within the rules on the low-load test that was then used, but when run at high boost and high load in race conditions it had a phenomenal resistance to detonation which was why Paul Rosche's engines could sustain 5.4bar boost for qualifying. Mind you, quite a few engines did grenade themselves in quali, but no one else ever managed to get near this level of boost. BMW's dyno could measure over 1300bhp, but in 1985 the F1 engines were exceeding its measurement capacity.

On quali laps the BMW sounded like it was powered by a swarm of bees, and it trailed a thick brown pall of unburnt fuel because without massive over-fueling the engine would melt its piston crowns even with oil sprays under the pistons.

The Honda engine was pretty impressive too, although they didn't reach their peak power until about 1987 when the boost was limited to 4.0 bar.

At this time engine revs were climbing up to the 11-12,000 rpm area, the final Honda turbo engine of 1988 could rev to 14,000 rpm but its peak power was at 12,500 rpm. All done without air sprung valves, the Honda used finger cam followers instead of bucket tappets.


Don't forget a new gearbox needed for every session, since no matter what they used, every shaft, gear and even the casings would be quite distorted or twisted!


Outstanding post, Brian, thanks.


Good post, Brian. I was thinking about the turbo era and toluene based fuel also. Honda developed but never raced a turbo with oval pistons (outlawed) that was rumored to put out over 1500 h.p. The piston shape allowed for optimum breathing; I'm not sure if it was four or five valves. I sure miss the engine development days; it's all pretty boring on the engine front now.


Six valves, Steve. You can buy one if you can ride a motorcycle and you can find one. Honda did sell a limited production as a 750 4-cylinder bike.


I believe there was a motorcycle with oval cylinders, think it might have been NR750. IIRC, that had 8 valves per cylinder.

But I'm quite sure at least some of above is memory conjecture!


That'll be the 8 valve per oval cylinder Honda NR750.



Keep in mind these great experiments will vanish once F1 goes from BBC to SKY. BBC is cutting back, SKY will not give coverage like this. Makes me sad.


How do you know what Sky will or will not do? Are you part of their production team?

Let's wait and see.


Brundle doiong tyre testing would be an example that makes your point better.

That wasn't a promo for which a nunber of TV companies could be invited.



That said, I've been a little underwhelmed by the tyre films. Too short and a little simplistic.

Really, we want to see MB gunning it in a modern F1 car...


I don't think that's right. This was done by Ferrari themselves with Shell. BBC was one of the broadcasters invited along I guess. This is a good idea, which has nothing to with the BBC being there or not


Presumably this is for the UK V-power the octane ratings vary across the world. Did they mention anything about relative fuel efficiency?


It would be interesting to see tyre compound comparison. I always wonder how the road car tyre compound would perform in a F1 car, e.g. make a F1 tyre using a normal road tyre elements.


I suspect they would quickly disintigrate. The tires go pretty quick on street tire based touring cars series. Even with lower grip levels of the street compond, they could never deal with the tempuratures.

Even being a little off with F1 tires results in the 2005 usgp.


A road car tire, albeit moulded as a slick, would be about 10 seconds per lap slower.

This is how I deduce it:

On an average track, a top-of-the-line, for-factory-teams-only Michelin LMP slick is around 1.5 to 2 seconds quicker than the Goodyears I raced on. (The Corvette GT team dropped two seconds in lap time when they switched)

A Goodyear slick is about 3 seconds quicker than your average "semi-slick" or "racing compound" tire that has a road-tire construction, but a softer racing compound with almost zero tread.

A semi-slick is about 4 seconds per lap quicker than a street tire, solely due to the compound and the tread pattern.

That leaves us at about 9 seconds difference.

Now take into account that the tire construction forms a significant portion of the effective suspension set-up of the car, and you could easily lose another second or two just in the side-walls of the tire not working well with the springs and dampers.

Street fuel is definitely a lot closer in performance to racing fuel than street tires are to racing tires.


Obviously any estimation will be greatly track dependant but either way I think only losing 10s is optimistic. An average F1 car is not far off being 10s slower per lap on intermediates in the dry around most circuits, a tyre that's still going to provide substantially more grip than any road tyre pattern/compound/design could hope to muster.


Well, we also need to consider the length of the track. 10 seconds difference is huge at Montreal (~1:16), but less so at Suzuka or Spa (~1:47).

Also, faster corners where the aero comes into effect will make the times closer, whereas slower corners that rely more on mechanical grip will make the times further apart.

Beyond that, I would contend that a harder compound would actually fare rather similarly to an intermediate in the dry, as the soft compound of the intermediate would blister and overheat very quickly, making the tire greasy. The harder compound of the street tire would also get greasy, but it would be less likely to blister. The construction of the road tire would obviously hurt it in comparison to the intermediate race tire...

Of course, you can get some pretty sticky street tires these days, as well as some pretty hockey-puck-like all-seasons... so if we opted for a Pirelli P-Zero sport tire, it might do as well as the intermediate in the dry.

Anyway, lots of variables... Since they don't make anything close to an F1 size for the street (a performance 13" tire?!), a better comparison would likely be their 18" LMP/GT tire versus a street tire of equivalent size.

I wonder if Pirelli is up for it? 😉


I think a more meaningful test is to see how F1 would perform in a road car


It would be about the same, but in reverse. There would be a few additives in there that would help with pick-up. It might give 0.3~0.5 seconds in something like Ferrari's 458 at Fiorano.


Is it just me or is Fernando a lot happier in the last two races? He seems more relaxed and gives a good interview. The cynic in me says its PR to win over sceptic UK fans but as others have said im warming to Alonso a lot more this year.

I think even Schumacher has given more of himself this season to TV segments on the BBC than in his entire previous career.

On topic, i dont think even Shell V Power could help the engine in my banger 🙂


Racing drivers are usually happier when they are more competitive. 😉


James, coming from SE Asia, it's a bit hard to believe that the V-Power for road cars survived the extreme compression of the F1 engine. Any comments?


They are required to use a road-based fuel, and are limited in terms of octane number.

A lot of people in the fuel industry are also astounded by what F1 engine builders can get away with.


Why doesn't F1 just use road car fuel ? Think of the money saved ! I thought this result would have been embarrassing to Ferrari. Brave of them to do it. All that money spent and the result is as near as dammit the same. Thumbs up for Shell and their road car fuel !


They do use fuel based off of road fuel. They just tweak the allowed additives to give a bit more power and torque. That's why the results are so close.


I've previously seen Shell say that the bulk of their development was actually keep the power whilst reduce the weight of the liquid.

I'm not sure how much less F1 fuel weighs, but maybe this answers your question?

Mind you, 9/10 ths is an age in a quali lap, so even if that's all it gives, it's worth it.



A lot of formulae have a regulataion saying they must use standard pump fuel. Why can't that also apply to F1?


...then why would Shell sponsor Ferrari, if they can't play with the fuel? Shell loves it, because they can tweak a few things here and there, and without too much cost, provide a performance benefit.

Same goes for other fuel/lubrication companies; they want to be involved as partners, not just as sponsors.


Thats just their cover story, Its really all about marketing and therefore, money.


That's precisely the point. They want that story. If they actually used road fuel from a pump, then they wouldn't be able to use that angle to sell more fuel.


Because to be at the Pinnacle you must be different, and very expensive.


JH can't help to make the stupid joke, isn't it?.


I agree. Theguy is very fluent but that's all. He is not very funny, and he didn't ask a single question about his impressions on the car. Remember he was driving a renault in 2009, and that ferrari was competition. So it was quite intresting question.


yeah but it's a demo about different fuels, he's not there to ask him how the '09 ferrari compares to the '09 renault. and what do you think fernando is gonna say anyway? "Oh, the renault? much better car, easier to drive, not such a pig as this is.." no he's just gonna give some answer about how great ferrari are etc etc.

but yes jake is starting to bug me a bit with is little jokes and the way he goes "mmhmmm, uh huh, yup, sure" whenever someone is answering one of his questions.


James, a test like this was done in Barbados about 6years ago when Shell first launched/renamed the petrol in the Caribbean V-Power with a 2004 Ferrari driven by Marc Gene. Thousands watched as he pulled up to the pump to fill up.....if what was in the pump is what it was supposed to be is another matter 😉


James James James.. you did it again... you made me smile big time when reading this article and watching the video. Good work James. 2 and a half weeks left.. more please!

Very interesting that top speed is better using the normal fuel.. you'd think there is some work for shell to do here.


well than thanks for putting it on your site james. Being in LA, I wouldn't have otherwise seen this.


Well to be fair this is BBC's work, not mine..

Omsk 2 (Mytram Zynom)

Slightly off-topic, sorry. Adam Parr (also known as Ecclestone Jr.) explained today on autosport.com how Formula 1 works: "The fundamental challenge is that Formula 1 is a very, very expensive show. It is not two blokes with a couple of tennis racquets and a pair of plimsolls - all of which was provided free. If you go to Cirque de Soleil and you see cutting edge performers in an amazing facility, and constantly updating the show, it costs you £100 for a good ticket, or you can go to your local circus with a couple of mangy elephants and a rather droopy clown and it costs you £10. People are capable of distinguishing."

Yeah, except F1 tickets cost a lot more than £100, Adam. Add the cost of accommodation and food and for a family of 3 people it'll cost a small fortune. Also, thanks for opening our eyes regarding F1 being a very expensive sport - we really had no clue! We're such a bunch of retards.

I'd like to ask a question to James (if that's alright): is it possible to calculate how much F1 teams were spending 20 years ago in today's money? Ecclestone Jr. claims "it costs, on average, each team let's say £100million a year" circa 2011. Were the teams spending less in the early 1990s and is it possible to do the same now? Will the teams be willing to get rid of expensive motorhomes, VIP chefs, cut driver salaries, etc., in order to save more money or VIPs are untouchable? Thanks. I can't attend any of the fan forums this year but I'd really love to. I feel like I'm boiling inside with questions.


I hate to be a wet blanket. But the teams make more money out of the VIP & corporate hospitality than they do out of your (and many others) GA tickets. Cutting back on VIP/Corporate services will not save teams money, but cost them as they lose massive sponsorship dollars.


Well I worked for Brabham in 1990 and 1991 and they were spending £1 million per month to be backmarkers. McLaren were spending around £25 million but didn't have to pay for engine and Honda were mega.

Omsk 2 (Mytram Zynom)

Christ! These dudes really need to cut costs! Thanks for replying.

Guess good old Max Mosley was right when he wanted to introduce a budget cap a couple of years ago. I miss MM, never thought I'd say that. He was right all the time. I don't get how on earth it's possible to spend that much money on going racing. OK, inflation and this financial crisis probably altered the value of money a little bit. In any case, I'm switching to the WRC and Le Mans next year; that stuff is more user-friendly. Will keep an eye on F1 but not like before. Kinda feels weird because I've been a fan since early 1990s, shame I can't afford to follow F1 full-time.


Interesting, but it could have been more interesting (if not more valid results) if Alonso and the fueling engineers had been blinded to the fuel options. Thanks James, for another insightful story.


Great stuff! It would be interesting to know who the fuels differ in terms of consumption.

Alonso is a man in the right place. Cannot imagine a team in which he could be happier, and cannot imagine a driver who would be better for Ferrari. I'm sure Massa is a great driver too, just remembering how much Fisichella and Badoer struggled with the Ferrari in 2009, but all in all, he is not as good as Alonso at the moment, and I respect Massa for openly admitting it. However, I'd like to see another man in the second Ferrari - Webber or Button would be great. McLaren enjoys the best pair of drivers at the moment. Jenson is not as fast as Hamilton but he is very close and, if Hamilton makes a mistake, Button is right there to pick up where Lewis left, which we saw in Budapest. RB has the second best lineup on the grid.

Man, the summer break is sooo long and it's just started..


James, I wonder how old this video is. Alonso's cap is not the cap he wears this season, at least on race weekends.

What it is not a surprise for me — and I believe for any one used to Alonso's interviews in Spanish, as I posted here time ago — is Alonso's mood. It is as good as it has always been. I'm afraid the perception of Alonso's bad temper is/was very much due to a concoction made by British media in past times, frequently taking clips and quotes taken out of context. Understandable to a point, nevertheless.


I agree with a few other posters here (Nic, Richard) - since there's so little difference between F1 and 'normal petrol-station' fuel, why don't they change the regs and just to use the latter - saving hundreds of hours and millions of dollars in F1 fuel development, secrecy, FIA checks, fuel shipment, etc etc. WE are really not going to notice any difference, if all the teams are using the same fuel!


Dave, Kieran in post #35 has your answer. There is no consistent fuel availble in all countries raced.


Because then all teams would need to use one brand, or be forced to use a rival brand, if for example they found "BP" had a bit extra at Monza, Shell a little more at Spa etc....


Very intersting Thanks, also very funny "the fuel is faster than you"


I wonder what KIND of V-Power it was. In various countries, I've seen it selling as 95, 97, 98, and 100. The UK stuff may or may not be what was actually tested here.


Bring on the Fuel Re-Mapping !


it makes you wonder whether on a cost basis alone, if the "race" fuel could be replaced with the road fuel in the new era of formula one which is coming along soon


Need to put race fuel in a street legal Ferrari.

Honestly I don't know how that car runs without some serious engine tweaking. Very interesting.

Thanks for this type of coverage James as we in the US don't get to see this stuff.


Fascinating. I use VPower exclusively in my Honda ... quite happy about that now!


Advertising and not factual advertising at that,

back to back runs on two different fuels, did they mention that the MAP would have had to be changed between the two runs. or are they implying the RON/MON is the same for both fuels.

If there was no remapping they are risking the motor,

I tend to think they likely had a A/F MAP on road fuel and run the race fuel on the same program.

More like manipulative advertising to me


it was clearly advertising (shell's whole selling point is F1 fuel for the road - this is the sole reason they pay so much to put their stickers on the car) but there was no trickery involved with the fuel / mapping. F1 fuel is not particularly high octane and there's no reason you couldn't run road fuel on the race fuel map.


Totally incorrect there is a huge difference in fuels depending on octane even a few octane points can make a difference. Particularly the fact that a motor running at 18000 rpm generates heat your IAT is critical you cannot just put in any petrol without adjustment.

Most road going cars have there ECU programmed to handle this with a soft tune even the power mode is only having a few degrees more timing and firmer changes and safe default setting or limp mode for emergency

You cant compare a race bred motor doing 18000 rpm with a daily driver doing 6000 rpm my statement stays the same why would they risk a expensive motor if they weren't going to adjust the programming.

How much power can you make from pump petrol before you detonate the motor ?


Cars like these run Shell V Power its best run on certified and tested pump fuel is over 1500 rear wheel horsepower. You have to be very careful with intake temps a turbo will increase intake temps on this by a few hundred degrees.

You need expensive inter-cooler technology to bring the IAT temps down so you don't detonate. or run virtually no timing to compensate, which makes no power obviously

I am pretty certain the same applies to F1 motor.


John G

Who said anything about Toulene which is completely different from Octane.

By the way I dont use Toulene in my engines which is a cheap way of using so called boost enhancers you buy of the shelf.

The reality still is the same the more octane you have the more air you use the more spark you can use the more power you make.

If the octane is lower than what you have tuned the motor for the chances are in a high performance motor you will get detonation at high loads,

Hence my point that they would have had to run a different program for there fuel tests.


you said it yourself, you can't compare a race engine doing 18000rpm with a road car engine doing 6000rpm, regardless of the BHP.

you seem to be basing your whole statement on IAT's and denation, on a highly boosted turbo road engine.

the IAT's on an F1 engine are just not an issue, you have the air intake above the drivers head directly feeding the airbox with the injectors sitting in there - the airbox will be around 60 degrees. and you have nowhere near the same in-cylinder pressure running non-turbo (even at high compression ratio's) as you do when you're boosted. knock is in large part a function of cylinder pressure, so it's a lot more critical in a boosted engine than an F1 engine. F1 engines get their power from speed, not torque.

plus, as i said before, at 18000rpm you haven't got time for destructive knock to occur - and for best power the engines will run in a part detonation mode as they need the fuel to combust as quickly as possible.

you fuel an F1 engine with toluene (very high octane) and it will make crap power because it won't burn quick enough. you fuel a highly boosted turbo engine with toluene, and you'll be able to raise the boost pressure and advance the timing, and make more power.

race engines are completely different to any road engine, *especially* a boosted road engine. when we move to the turbo V6, octane will be become much more important. for the V8's we have now tho, they don't have much appetite for octane.


The RON is the same (or very close). The FIA mandates the RON of F1 fuel to be between 95 and 102.


Thanks I mentioned both because depending on which country you are from they will use a different standard either RON or MON.

I can almost guarantee they would use the highest octane allowed as 1) It can make more power and 2) If the decide to run less timing its safer for the motor


A modern Formula One car is a single-seat, open cockpit, open wheel racing car with substantial front and rear wings, and an engine positioned behind the driver. The regulations governing the cars are unique to the championship. The Formula One regulations specify that cars must be constructed by the racing teams themselves, though the design and manufacture can be outsourced.When a new Formula One, for engines limited to 2.5 litres, was reinstated to the world championship during 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced the advanced W196, which featured innovations such as desmodromic valves and fuel injection as well as enclosed streamlined bodywork




Ferrari will use any excuse to do testing under the guise of media days.
I'm sure they took full advantage of this 10x minute interview to test parts on the car for the rest of the day
Notice Jake gets some serious lip service from Alonso and how hard he is working in the car to perspire when being interviewed - this was not a fuel test alone in my opinion


That old chestnut.


The car is 2 years old. That's allowed under FIA rules because there's no crossover


Saw the video.... Interesting, but i have a DIESEL!!

Don't diesels do relatively well in le Mans?? Even WINNING it over Petrol engines?? Hmm, and so much more MPG.

Noise would be as loud, as Diesels are noisier by default!!! And that black smoke, like the old F4 Phantom or a chieftan tank..... lol!!!


There testing new fuel!


I use V power with the motorbike, and the difference is not only significant, but obvious with every twist. Even on the over run, when coming off the throttle, the bike behaves as if its freefalling. This behaviour, when comparing to supermarket fuels, for me speaks for itself. So, irrespective of cost, I'm riding with shell.


Er, not exactly F1 but here goes. I have been about as cynical as it's possible to be about premium forecourt fuels. Would never pay the extra. Then, I was in an employers white van on fumes (the van, not me). Pulled onto a forecourt (a Shell, but that's just coincidence) to put in standard diesel. It had a lock on it. Looked across to big queues on other pumps. As it was on account I thought "Fluff it! I'll just put £20 of the premium in and fill it with normal crap later somewhere else". As the tank was empty when I pulled up, there was only a few minutes between driving on standard to pulling away driving on premium. I have to tell you people the difference was marked (If you put £20 quid on top of half a tank of standard doubt you will notice). I felt a clearly defined difference in white van with 100K+ clocked up. Of course the extra perfomance and extra milage (if driving at same speed on either fuel) gained from premium will not offset extra cost for vast majority of people paying for fuel. Cost is always likely to define choice here. I not saying people should pay the extra but there is a difference. I discovered purely by accident. I'll get my coat now......


My Team has taken part in supra f1 car race we are the first batch in our engineering college we would request you to give some technical information about f1 car like what the carburetor is used or cooling system


This is interesting.

Over here in Sunny South Africa we've got 95 or 93, and because we are behind in the EU in terms of our fuel specs, AND we have a number of old clunkers on the road (Average Saffa keeps his car about 5-7 years apparently!)we also still have LRP or lead replacement petrol. This is slowly being fazed out though...

I drive a '91 BMW520i with a few slight tweaks, nothing much, just performance exhaust and K&N air filters and i must say that i only use Shell wherever possible...

There's a difference in power, economy as well as mecahnical noise...its as if she runs smoother and delivers more power. Whenever i get it serviced - she has about 600 000km or 100 000 miles on the clock - i make sure to have it dyno-tuned with a full tank of Shell.

Brilliant stuff...

With BP or Engen (previously Mobil before they took off what with all the sanctions in the 80's) the car runs and smokes like a wreck, and fuel economy...what fuel economy?!!

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