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Shell reveals technology transfer between MotoGP and F1

Shell reveals technology transfer between MotoGP and F1

Shell reveals technology transfer between MotoGP and F1

Parallels are often drawn between MotoGP and Formula 1, the two premier motor-sport classes. With the move to the 4-stroke formula in 2002, MotoGP took a major step towards more refined technology and the various manufacturers started to develop technology inspired and adapted from its distant cousin - from sophisticated engine mapping, to traction control systems and pneumatic valve distribution.

Over the past few years the two disciplines have been looking at each other more closely, despite their apparent differences, and some technical solutions can now be transferred from one to the other. That was the motivation behind Shell's Mike Copson's visit to Brno last weekend. A motorcycling enthusiast, Copson is first and foremost Shell's Technical Manager for the F1 Ferrari team. After a special invitation from Shell Advance to the Czech Grand Prix, he had a close look at the company's involvement in MotoGP as a close partner of the Ducati Marlboro team.

Copson explained to how Shell approaches MotoGP and Formula 1, and what the two disciplines can learn from each other.

"For Ferrari, I'm technically responsible for the development programme of all the products that we produce for the team, from fuels to lubricants and greases," explained Copson. "I have a very good team of people working with me on the development programme, and I attend all the races to be a technical focal point for the Ferrari team. I ensure that Shell do the right thing for Ferrari technically, but also that Ferrari are integrating well enough with Shell, because it's a partnership in the same way that Ducati and Shell Advance work together as partners. It's not a supply deal, but an integrated technical partnership. The way Shell approach both disciplines, MotoGP and Formula 1, is the same."

"At Shell we talk to each other a lot, the Shell Advance guys talk to the Shell Helix guys, I get to talk to everybody about what we do in the lubricants area, as there are things we can learn for Formula 1. But it's not quite like being at an actual event, feeling the atmosphere, talking to a few people and learning - that's the most important thing from my point of view, watch and learn."

"MotoGP is the pinnacle of motorbike racing and Formula 1 is the pinnacle of car racing, it's good to see the different activities that are going on, because even if they are the pinnacle, they are completely different in their approach. That's a good thing to be able to look at," continued Copson.

He explained that the lubricant used by the Ducati Marlboro team is based on the standard Shell Advance Ultra 4 oil which is modified to meet the requirements of the Demosedici GP5, while the process is different in Formula 1.

"From my point of view, the main difference between MotoGP and Formula 1 is that the lubricants have to do certain things for each discipline. In Formula 1 we have dedicated lubricants for the engine and the gearbox, we make completely bespoke types of products. Also the rules are completely free in this area so we have greater technical latitudes."

"In MotoGP, it is based on a standard product and then modified, tailored, to suit the requirements of MotoGP. But the important thing to remember about MotoGP is that Shell Advance has a much more arduous task, because it has to lubricate the engine, the gearbox and the clutch - it has many different things it has to do. The fact that it is based on Shell Advance and then tailored to the product, I think is a good way to do it."

"We could not, for example, in Formula 1 take a standard oil and then modify it for Formula 1, we have to start from the first principles. However, Shell Advance has picked up valuable technology from MotoGP because it is a more arduous environment, lubricating three completely different things. We can take bits of technology and apply that to Formula 1 and conversely, we can take bits of technology from Formula 1 and apply it to what we modify in Shell Advance. So it's a many-way street, not a two-way street but a three or four-way street."

"MotoGP and Formula 1 are very different disciplines, in Formula 1 we go to higher rpms, there is more G-force involved, but in MotoGP you have the leaning of the bike to take in consideration and also the races are shorter, so you can actually be more aggressive with the oils that you make. Technically it's fascinating, because in Formula 1 there has always been talk about combining the engine and the gearbox lubricants and making it one thing, but it's never going to happen. So whenever I'm here I try to understand how it works in MotoGP, because lubricating a gearbox, lubricating an engine and lubricating a clutch are three completely different things. The clutch gets very hot from the friction, the gearbox has very specific lubricant requirements due to the sweeping action of the gears, whereas in the engine you have to lubricate rotating parts. So how those three come together is fascinating."

As the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme announced earlier this season that engine capacity in the MotoGP class will be reduced to 800cc in 2007, it's widely accepted that manufacturers will aim for higher rpms in order to maintain the power output of the 4-stroke engines. Higher rpms obviously mean more stress on the rotating parts, and, as a result, MotoGP could benefit from F1 experience with their 20,000 rpm engines.

"That will be definitely the case," declared Copson. "In Formula 1 we also have an engine capacity reduction for 2006 and there is speculation that engine rotating speeds will be higher. The great thing about the Shell partnerships, between Shell Advance and Ducati, and Shell Helix with Ferrari, is that we talk to each other internally. They are not strictly separate projects, we all talk and learn from one another. So I'm sure that the specific technology we learn from Formula 1 will certainly filter through into Shell Advance's portfolio, for use in MotoGP in the future."

MotoGP, 2005

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