Shell recently performed an experiment on two Scuderia Ferrari drivers to measure their excitement levels while behind the wheel of a fast car. The experiment was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a fortnight ago, during the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.
Dubbed as the Shell V-Power: Science of Driving Excitement experiment, the event involved four-time Formula One World Champion, Scuderia Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, Scuderia Ferrari third driver Esteban Gutiérrez, and everyday motorists being wired up to biometric monitors before setting off on their drives onboard Ferrari California cars powered by Scuderia Ferrari test driver Marc Gene who also offered his driving expertise to the experiment.
Before the experiment began, Vettel described how his heart still races both on and off the track as he made his way to the Sepang International Circuit to prepare for Sunday’s race in his Ferrari road car.
“I still love the feeling and the sensation simply of driving. Obviously, the better the car, the better it is. So if you drive in a Ferrari, you’re very lucky. They build the best,” Vettel said. “Also, the fuel you use is important. The Shell V-Power I put in my racing car is very similar to the Shell V-Power road fuel you or I can buy,” the German driver said.
While Vettel shared his story on the road, Gutierrez was faced with a series of thrilling driving scenarios on a specially designed circuit, from aggressive acceleration and wet road conditions, to freestyle slaloms and accelerating through a sensorial tunnel.
He wore a state-of-the-art biometric shirt designed to monitor variances in heart rates, breathing and g-force to reveal excitement levels throughout his drive.
On the track, real-time results showed that in the five seconds before accelerating from the starting line, Gutierrez’s heart rate increased by five percent, from his resting heart rate – reflecting the anticipation of the performance driving activity.
At his peak, the Mexican’s heart rate was 15 percent higher than his base rate as he powered through the tunnel.
“Going through the tunnel was exciting, the lights, the smoke, I had fun,” Gutierrez said.
Throughout the experience Gutiérrez’s breathing rate increased by an average of 20 percent compared to his resting levels.
Talking about the day, he said, “To drive the car at the limit and to extract the maximum from what it has, it’s fascinating to feel. To really be able to feel every movement from the car, I love it!”
The experiment shows that no matter how experienced a driver is, driving can be exciting, no matter who you are.
While on his drive, Vettel was most excited as he spoke about his passion for driving both on and off the track. “When I come off the track I am so filled with adrenalin that I feel the buzz on the drive home and I can’t get to sleep at night.”
Reflecting on his first few months with the Ferrari team, Vettel said, “It’s a special partnership between Shell and Scuderia Ferrari, there’s a lot about you only see when you’re behind the scenes, like learning about the fuel that makes us run.”
During the day, the Ferrari road cars were filled with Shell V-Power fuel, designed to enhance the performance and responsiveness of the engine by preventing the build-up of and removing existing power-robbing engine deposits.
Mae Ascan, a Shell Fuels Scientist from the Philippines, said, “Shell believes that a great drive needs a great fuel, and that’s why we have a strong Technical Partnership with Scuedria Ferrari. Our partnership ensures we continuously develop our Shell V-Power Gasoline fuel and Shell Helix Ultra with PurePlus Technology, making driving on the road an even greater experience no matter who you are.”