Shell and Formula 1: What’s behind the partnership

It’s always a pleasure to talk with Kai-Uwe Witterstein, Global Sponsorships Manager at Shell Brands International. This time we’re here to ask how the Shell-Ferrari partnership is changing.

How has the sponsorship side of Formula 1 changed over the last few years?

Shell has a proud, long-standing history and association with Formula 1, primarily as an Innovation Partner of Scuderia Ferrari. The partnership is today one of the most decorated and celebrated in the world of motorsport. Having been present in the paddock since the sport’s earliest days, we’ve seen sponsorship in Formula 1 take many forms, as is the case for any major sport.

Under the exciting new ownership of FOM we believe there will be greater room for innovation and creativity in both what we see as fans and ultimately do as a partner. We think this more open approach offers an opportunity to revolutionise brands’ awareness in the sport and bring fans back to the fore. A key differentiating point for us is that Shell is more than just a sponsor, we are a partner that provides the most decorated Formula 1 team with performance enhancing fuels and lubricants that helps propel them to the very top step of the podium. This greatly enhances our credibility and ability to tell compelling stories to fans and customers.

Do you believe 2017 is a turning-point year in any way for Formula 1 sponsorship matters?

Yes, we believe so and that’s not to disregard the previous era in any way as the sport has gone from strength to strength for decades. However, what the new ownership with FOM has offered is a fresh, ambitious perspective that is not only a benefit to sponsors and partners but also for the fans. We look forward to working alongside the new owners to offer greater access, excitement and belonging to the fascinating world of Formula 1 to fans around the world.

Under the exciting new ownership of FOM we believe there will be greater room for innovation and creativity in both what we see as fans and ultimately do as a partner.

Kai-Uwe Witterstein

What’s most important in your work with Formula 1 today?

Shell has been involved in Formula 1 since 1950 and invests more than 21,000 man hours a year, from over 50 technical staff in its Formula 1 programme. Our work alongside Scuderia Ferrari in Maranello ensures we develop bespoke fuels and oils designed to maximise performance and efficiency for the best results on track. We’re constantly challenged to deliver top quality products and the new Formula 1 regulations that were introduced in 2017 further pushed us to find innovative ways to maximise technical development and efficiency of our fuels and lubricants in the high octane demands of a Formula 1 car.

Shell’s investment in research and development in Formula 1, further helps us to develop better fuels and lubricants for customers around the world where innovations from the track are transferred to our road-going products. This investment in motorsports not only helps to serve customers today, but also benefits the motorists of tomorrow. Shell is tirelessly working to pioneer new and alternative mobility solutions through its work on the track, staying focused on delivering more efficiency, performance and future-focused solutions as new vehicle technologies emerge.

From your own experience, what’s the recipe for a successful partnership in high-end motorsports?

Shell fuels and lubricants have powered Scuderia Ferrari to ten FIA Formula 1 Constructors’ titles and 12 Drivers’ Championship wins. This success can only come about with close collaboration and teamwork and this is something we have in abundance, which subsequently opens the door to enable more creative and innovative thinking. Our winning mentality on track progresses what we can transfer to the motoring world, so there also needs to be a degree of trust and continuous development in place. Though our history together is rich, it’s important to avoid complacency, therefore we are always looking forward, striving to uncover and unlock future solutions that can not only improve performance on the track, but also offer enhanced efficiency and value to the motoring world. Ultimately, we are all passionate fans of Formula 1 and want to do our very best together to win in what is a highly competitive sport.

How are partnerships like the Shell-Ferrari one changing in terms of technology and new developments?

Automotive and motorsports are two industries that are continually evolving, therefore it’s important to consistently be at the forefront of all the latest innovations and developments in both worlds. We have numerous examples of motorists benefiting from the technical developments that goes into supporting Shell’s numerous partners on the racetrack.

In 1998, Shell launched its first premium performance fuel, Shell V-Power, co-engineered with Scuderia Ferrari. Today, the Shell V-Power race fuel used by Scuderia Ferrari contains 99% of the same types of compounds as those found in Shell V-Power Unleaded road fuel. Another example of this transfer of technology from the track to the road is Shell Helix Ultra lubricant with PurePlus Technology, first used by Scuderia Ferrari at the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix. That same year, customers around the world could purchase Shell Helix Ultra synthetic motor oils containing the very same Shell PurePlus Technology used to synthesise base oil from natural gas. This produced a crystal-clear, 99.5% pure base oil, which is one of the main building blocks of the low viscosity engine oils required by today’s most advanced engines.

How do you measure your ROI in Formula 1?

In Formula 1 we’re more than just a sponsor. Our partnership with the sport is one of our most important R&D platforms for future motoring technologies and solutions. This directly benefits our customers at the pump and generates brand exposure and awareness amongst our consumers via content on social, digital, owned and earned platforms. In addition to awareness, we focus on brand preference, audience sentiment and ultimately how this may impact overall sales.




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