Shell, Petronas ExxonMobil, BP/Castrol – Do we really care? What difference does fuel make in the world of F1 and should we really be concerned?
If you have read Ross Brawn’s book, then you will know how involved Ferrari and Shell became during their domination of Formula 1. They integrated their teams to ensure that they all know what was going and how to maximise the performance.
Petronas have been integral in Mercedes recent resurgence and either their money or their expertise might have been the crucial factor in helping to create the best power chain on the grid. When, in 2015, Williams had the Mercedes engine, but different fuel suppliers, there was a marked difference in their performances.
It has always been a fairly quiet war between the fuel companies. You don’t hear Christian Horner blasting his fuel supplier, but you do hear him lambasting his engine supplier. I just spent five minutes looking on Force India’s website and can’t find who their fuel supplier or sponsor is. Maybe I’m rubbish at searching, maybe it’s not there.
Then there’s the unexpected side of the fuel sponsorship and it comes in the shape of this brilliantly bad Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella Shell advert. Mobil1 sponsor a motorsports wrap-up program. Shown in the early hours on Channel 4, Mobil1 – The Grid is a decent publicity tool. This show used to heavily feature the McLaren team and their drivers, but due to the sponsorship change, it has already switched to the Red Bull team and their drivers.
It appears to be a hidden war. The results tables might make mention of the team’s engines, but I don’t think it will ever list their fuel. Could we do with just one official supplier? No, and we shouldn’t. Let them fight it out. Let them develop new and innovative fuels, because we all know that it will trickle down to the road cars.