From the turbo era, to the V10 and now world championship victory with a 100% Renault car, it’s clear that Elf relishes a challenge.
Just like in Renault, motorsport is part of the company DNA at Elf: these historic partners have been achieving sporting milestones together for nearly 40 years. The double world title success of the R25 this year was made possible by tailor-made fuels and lubricants.
“If you are standing still in Formula 1, you are going backwards,” explains Denis Marcel, Total’s Competition Director. “That is why Total Competition chose to attack 2005 with a strengthened team. Our organisation grew, in line with our ambitions. The objective was to improve our reactivity, and anticipate the Renault F1 Team’s requirements.”
The Formula 1 Technical Regulations evolved significantly over the winter of 2004/5. The challenges for the engine team altered radically: using an engine for two consecutive race weekends was a significant challenge.
“Elf and Renault had already won nine world titles together, and we put in the place the programmes needed to win: a V10 engine that was 98% new relative to its predecessor, and which used brand new formulations and products from Elf,” continues Denis Marcel. “We homologated a new lubricant. Our chemists also worked on fuel density, trying to provide a maximum amount of energy for each mass of fuel carried by the car. This was made particularly important by the need to make a single set of tyres last the full race distance.”
For Elf, Formula 1 is not just a branding exercise. “Far from it,” states the F1 Technical Manager, Philippe Girard. “For us, motorsport is like a huge laboratory. Production vehicles have benefited directly from Elf’s Formula 1 involvement, notably in terms of energy-saving fluids.”
This relationship also works both ways: production car technologies have brought the F1 programme valuable lessons too. For example, anti-wear solutions used in road cars have been adapted to the demands of competition. “Developments for Elf’s Formula 1 programme come from the same engineers who work on road car programmes,” concludes Philippe Girard. “The two programmes interact extensively.”
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