On Friday, i was lucky enough to be invited to the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. I was invited by Shell, the technical partner and fuel supplier of the Ferrari Scuderia F1 team.
After catching the red eye to Melbourne, and a leisurely walk from the city to Albert park, I met with Shells representative Adam, who showed us around for the day. First stop, the pit paddock.
Going to need a special ticket to get in here......
After walking past a few celebrities and racing drivers, not to mention the hundreds of journalists, we entered the Ferrari Garage, and straight into the Shell Track side Laboratory.
In here we met with Dr Cara Tredget, Shells technology manager for Ferrari. Cara overseas the development programs in place between Ferrari and Shell, developing new blends of fuel to hopefully see Ferrari on the podium.
The track side lab is one of the biggest things Shell bring to formula one. It is a testing facility used for many things, some of which include early failure prediction of a specific component of an engine. This is done by analysing samples from the oil, and if they find a trace of one of the 15 specific metals used in the engine, they can determine which part is under stress and fix it before it lets go. This has helped the engine lives increase drastically to over 2500kms
After hearing about the technical side of the fuels and lubricants, we headed through the corridor until it opened up into the pit garage. inside technicians and engineers were working on Felipe Massa's car, while Fernando Alonso's car was off down the other end of pit lane with the scrutineers.
After taking a few photos and seeing the team in action, it was time to clear out of the pits for the team to practice some pit stops.
As we left Ferrari's garage, we were greeted by the no.1 driver for Ferrari, Fernando Alonso. BUT unfortunately as quick as he appeared, he was off again, only managed a photo of the back of his head.... but what a head of hair it is.......
From the paddock, it was time to head to Shells corporate box to test out Ferrari's simulator. This is a genuine racing experience, forget GT5 and Forza, this is as realistic as it gets. If you run wide and put a wheel on the grass, you WILL spin.... or at least I did anyway. And yes... at 6"2, i do fit in a formula one car... go figure!
Alonso has one of these built at his home, and uses it to practice for an upcoming race. The simulator is based on a Formula One carbon monocoque, with a genuine steering wheel and pedal set fitted.
To drive the simulator is much the same as the car, to get started you have to hold down the clutch paddle, select first gear, rev the engine to at least 10,000rpm and then let out the clutch paddle.... and keep that foot planted. Its very easy to stall.
On my first go i went flying into the sand trap at turn 3 at about.... 200kph... and had to reset. after this, i managed to keep the car pointing the right way until the last corner where i spun again... This aint easy
This was the final part of the experience with Shell and Ferrari, so i spent the rest of the day around the track taking a few happy snaps.
A Big thanks must go to Shell and Ferrari for alowing me into their place of work, somewhere many people only dream of getting into. Me being one of them.
I thought, instead of writing up lots of technical information, If any one has any questions, please feel free to ask away and i will answer as much as possible, or deflect