With 2015 Ferrari power unit supply secured for Italy’s second F1 team in 2016 and reports published by the Reuters Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO, has hinted Ferrari power units may soon sport Alfa Romeo branding for a customer team within F1. The possibility of Scuderia Toro Rosso adopting the branding is an increasing possibility.
Whilst public offerings in both the New York and Milan stock exchange have effectively spun Ferrari off from FCA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, through majority shareholder Exor retain significant shareholding in the sports car maker and as such remain keen to transfer the racing pedigree across other brands within the organisation.
Both Scuderia Ferrari and Scuderia Toro Rosso have declined to comment on speculation around possible branding at this time, but the rumours have not dissipated. With news emerging this morning that Spanish oil giant Cepsa have not renewed sponsorship commitments with Toro Rosso clearing the way for possible Shell branding with the team for the 2016 season possible alignment appears increasingly likely.
The rationale for FCA and Ferrari to pursue such a move exists on both a commercial and sporting front. Commercially FCA could lean on the youthful nature of Toro Rosso, Red Bull and the young driver line up in an attempt to entice a younger audience to the Alfa Romeo brand, a brand which with ambition exists to more than quadruple sales by 2018. From a sporting perspective there is then the question around the future of Max Verstappen; following a sensational rookie year in 2015 many expect Mercedes and Ferrari to be battling to secure his services at the earliest possible juncture. Getting Verstappen under the Alfa Romeo brand whilst still under Red Bull contract and exposing him to virtues of life as a Ferrari driver may go a long way to steering the decision toward a scarlet future.
With the 2015 Formula One Season having concluded under the spot lights of the Yas Marina Circuit, Scuderia Ferrari alongside technical partner Shell, offered a few insights into how an aggressive approach to developments powered the team to 14 podiums, three victories and second in the 2015 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship
Guy Lovett, Innovation Manager, Shell Motorsport commented:
“It was always our plan to adopt a more aggressive strategy in 2015 with the development of our Shell V-Power race fuel in comparison to previous years. We really applied our learnings from 2014, a year of new and innovative hybrid technology, to our 2015 race fuel, of which we introduced five new powerful blends. We worked closer than ever with our colleagues in Maranello where we fully integrated our development plans to optimise the fuel-engine package and it was great to see that our hard work paid off, helping to power the team back to winning ways. Now the hard work continues ahead of 2016.”
This approach translated into performance gains of up to half a second a lap, equating to a 30 second improvement in the overall race time. The partnership with Shell in both fuel and lubricants has delivered 25% of the performance gains the team have seen over the course of 2015. This gain exceeds all previous achievements of the partnership and serve as the key performance indicator behind the recently extended a partnership spanning over 50 years.
James Allison, Technical Director, Scuderia Ferrari commented:
“2015 was a really positive year for Scuderia Ferrari and we made great strides in performance, particularly with the power unit, compared to last year. The considerable improvements Shell made with its Shell V-Power race fuel and Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology lubricant really did contribute to our own improvements on the race track, not only helping to deliver greater horsepower but reliability as well. Our Technical Partnership with Shell has never been stronger and we look forward to continuing our work with them for at least the next five years with the aim of winning more races and championships.”
The partnership can now fully shift focus to the 2016 season and work to ensure the Scuderia with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are in a position to battle for championship glory.