Some years ago the major petrol companies like Esso, BP and Shell were the main sponsors of motor racing, putting a lot of money into teams like Ferrari, BRM and Lotus, but without ,the advertising and ballyhoo surrounding sponsorship today. They merely profited by the publicity gained from successes. Whereas you could pronounce that a Grand Prix had been won on Esso, you cannot claim that a Grand Prix was won on Players Cigarettes or using Olympus Cameras. There are still petrol companies, supporting racing teams, like Texaco with McLaren, Agip with Ferrari or ELF with Tyrrell and there are oil companies in Formula One as well, such as Valvoline with Lotus and Castrol with Wolf, but it is not widely publicised just what petrol and oils the Formula One cars use.
The fuel used has to be commercially obtainable 100 octane straight petrol, which is 5- star by normal standards and firms like ELF and Texaco make certain their teams have the purest grade of 5-star that they can blend. At a recent Grand Prix I took a survey of what brands of petrol and oil the major teams were using, and their reasons for using them
Brabham-Alfa Romeo – Italian Agip petrol and ‘oil. The Alfa Romeo engine development being ,done in Italy, it would be silly not to use the number one Italian brand.
Tyrrell – French ELF petrol and , oil. It is not called ELF Team Tyrrell for nothing.
Lotus – Contracted to Valvoline Oil Company, so do not tie themselves to a petrol company. They use whatever is available in the· paddock, ELF, Agip or whatever.’
McLaren – Texaco petrol and oil. Texaco are part sponsors of the team with Marlboro cigarettes.
ATS – Shell petrol and oil.
Ferrari – Agip petrol and oil. The Italian company have, a contract with Ferrari.
Fittipaldi – A contract to use Shell oil, so they do not tie themselves to a petrol company. Any 5-‘star ‘petrol ‘- whatever is on sale in the paddock.
Renault – ELF petrol and oil. Like ELF Team Tyrrell they are strongly supported by the French petrol company.
Shadow – Contracted to Fina for petrol, Valvoline for oil.
Surtees – Contracted to Fina for petrol and oil.
Wolf – Contracted to Castrol for oil, so use any available 5-star petrol.
Ensign – Contracted to Fina for petrol and oil.
Ligier – Shell petrol and oil because they find them quite satisfactory for the Matra V 12 engine.
Williams – Backed by Saudia Airlines and Saudi Arabia they stay clear of all petrol and oil contracts and use Texaco oil (because it seems all right) and whatever 5-star is on sale in the paddock.
Arrows – Fina petrol and Valvoline oil.
The fact that the modern Formula One engine develops anything from 485 b.h.p. to 520 b.h.p. from 3-litres capacity, running on normal 5-star petrol’ says much for the engineers behind such engines as the Cos worth DFV, the Ferrari and Alfa Romeo 12 cylinders, the V12 Matra and the turbo-charged Renault V 6. It was 40 years ago that we had a 3-litre engine limit, with supercharging, for Grand Prix racing and with no fuel restrictions. Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union 12-cylinder engines needed two-stage supercharging and methanol/benzol fuels to produce 485 b.h.p., and a team of technicians to look after the engine as well as a technical ritual for starting and running them. Today you could drive up to a normal 5-star petrol pump with a Cosworth V8-powered car, fill up (and get your Green Shield stamps), press the starter button and drive away without needing to leave the cockpit. There has been a lot of progress made, even though it has taken a long time. – D.S.J.