Attending a Formula 1 race has been on my bucket list for years now, and this year I was finally able to make that dream a reality thanks to our friends at Shell, who hosted me at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin TX for an action-packed, star-studded race weekend that I won’t soon forget!
For those of you wondering why Shell brought us out to the F1 race, it’s because Shell and Scuderia Ferrari have one of the longest, most successful partnerships in Formula 1 history, dating back to 1929 when Enzo Ferrari founded his racing team in Modena, Italy, and Shell was his partner of choice. Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium gasoline grew out of this technical partnership between the two companies.
Shell V-Power race fuel and lubricants have delivered impressive performance & efficiency gain for Scuderia Ferrari’s Formula 1 cars over the years, and to learn more about this, we started off our weekend with a visit to the Shell Technology Center in Houston, where we got some behind-the-scenes interactions with fuels and lubricants scientists before making our way out to Austin for the race.
Like many of you, I never gave much thought to what gas station I was filling up at, typically going wherever was closest or cheapest (though I would avoid the sketchy no-name places). But as I learned, not all gas is created equally, and Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium gasoline actually provides protection against gunk, wear, and corrosion for optimum engine performance.
To illustrate this point, Shell submerged two intake valves in fuel (one with Shell V-Power NiTRO+ premium gasoline, the other with a lower quality premium gasoline), and then set them ablaze to mimic what happens inside your engine. The results were pretty cut and dry, with the one intake valve looking good as new, while the other one had noticeable gunk and carbon deposits left behind. Can you guess which was which?
What’s more, making the switch to Shell V-Power NiTRO+ can help to remove the gunk, wear, and corrosion that has built up in your engine over time, resulting in better performance (like when your car left the factory) and possibly even better fuel economy. Given the small difference in price, which is even less if you enroll in the Shell Fuel Rewards program, it seems like a no-brainer to fill your car up with Shell.
Afterwards, we headed off to Austin, excited for a weekend of high-speed racing at COTA, where we would get to take in all of the action from the swanky Ferrari Paddock Club. For those of you who have not been to the Circuit of the Americas before, it’s an incredible track, offering great views no matter where you sit.
Being in the Scuderia Ferrari suite, we had an incredible view of the front straightaway, garage and pit areas, which was pretty awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better seat, but it’s definitely spoiled me for any future F1 races, that’s for sure.
After lunch, we headed downstairs for a tour of the Paddock area, where we got to see what goes on behind the scenes. In addition, we got to go inside the Shell Track Lab (pictured above), a trackside laboratory where Shell can sample and test the vehicles fuels and lubricants throughout the race weekend.
Now I know what you’re thinking – Why does Shell need a mobile laboratory to test fuel and engine oil, given that no one else is doing this? It’s all about that competitive edge. Case in point, if Shell notices an abnormal presence of wear metals in the oil, that could indicate a potential problem with the engine. Since teams aren’t allowed to open the engines to see what’s going on, they rely on data like this to make informed decisions.
Because each team only has four engines per driver per year available to them, you can see why this testing is so important, and how Shell’s Track Lab is a valuable resource to the Ferrari team.
In the end, Scuderia Ferrari had a successful weekend, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen finishing the race in second and third place respectively, with Sebastian just a few seconds behind Lewis Hamilton. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, and I’ll definitely be coming back to COTA again!
Disclosure: Thanks to Shell for providing the accommodations for this trip.
The 405HP BMW M2 Competition Really Is The Ultimate Driving Machine
When BMW first introduced the M2, it was a clear indication that they had not forgotten about purists like me who wanted a small, lightweight, fun-to-drive sports car that could hang with the big boys come track day. And that it did.
But now they’ve taken things up a notch with the first-ever 2019 BMW M2 Competition.
As the name suggests, the M2 Competition is playing for keeps, with a new engine lifted from the M3/M4, a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter straight-six making 405 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.
For those of you keeping score, that’s 40 horses and 63 more lb-ft than the outgoing M2, and it’s good enough for a 0-60 time of four seconds flat and a top speed of 174 mph.
Naturally, there’s a host of chassis improvements to make the most of the added power, with lots of raiding from the M3/M4 parts bin, along with new M Sport seats, larger M Sport brakes front and rear, a new dual exhaust system, and bigger kidney grilles up front (painted black).
Overall, it’s a pretty impressive update to a vehicle that was perfectly fine as it sat, taking this lightweight track beast and dialing it up to 11. Porsche owners had better watch out!
No word on pricing just yet, but it sounds like it will be worth every penny that they’re asking. And if it turns out to be too rich for your blood, you can always pick up one of the many used M2’s that will surely be hitting the market once the M2 Competition comes out..
Speaking of which, anyone wanna buy a kidney? 🙂
What do you think of the BMW M2 Competition?
What Do You Think Of The 2019 Chevrolet Camaro And Its Bold New Styling?
This morning, Chevrolet surprised all of us with the unveiling of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro, which feature distinctive designs, new available technologies and the first-ever Turbo 1LE.
We’re not really sure why Chevrolet chose not to unveil the new Camaro at the 2018 New York Auto Show a few weeks ago, given the sheer number of consumers and media who come out to the show. But they must have had their reasons..
In any event, we got our first glimpse of the 2019 Camaro this morning, and it’s… different.
According to Chevy, the 2019 Camaro’s updated designs “are not only striking but also help to improve performance. For instance, the grille details and hood and fascia vents were designed for optimized air flow, either to cool components or help minimize drag or lift.”
Maybe so, but at what cost? The 2018 Camaro was a great looking ride. But the new Camaro has already got the Internet buzzing, and not in a good way. The front-end treatment is a bit much, and it’s even worse in SS trim, where the grille is mostly blacked out.
Still, if you can look past the looks, there’s a lot to like about the new Camaro. The SS model’s 6.2-liter LT1 V8 can now be paired with a 10-speed automatic, complete with custom launch control and line-lock. This transmission, co-developed with Ford, replaces the eight-speed automatic, and until now it’s only been available in the ZL1 model.
In addition, a new Turbo 1LE joins the V6 1LE, SS 1LE and ZL1 1LE to round out Camaro’s line of 1LE track stars. The 275 HP Camaro Turbo 1LE comes exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission and a tailored chassis package that includes a performance suspension with larger diameter front and rear stabilizer bars, specifically tuned dampers, stiffer rear cradle bushings and cross-axis ball joints in the rear tow links that enhance lateral stiffness
The Turbo 1LE also gets wide summer tires (275mm in the rear, 245mm in the front), Brembo brakes, a drive-mode selector with sport and track modes, a suede flat-bottom steering wheel and shift knob, and optional Recaro seats, along with nearly 50-50 weight distribution.
As you can see, there’s a lot to like about the 2019 Camaro, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one so I can test it out for myself. And while I’m not 100% sold on the styling of the new Camaro, maybe it’s one of those designs that looks better in person than in photos.
What do you think of the 2019 Chevrolet Camaro?
Review: 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t
Of all of the vehicles in the Infiniti line, the Q50 is probably the most timeless. For the 2018 model year, the Q50 shuffles a few things, but remains as it’s been for some time. Unlike many in the luxury segments, however, the 2018 Infiniti Q50 holds its age well and after a week in this sedan, we still like it for everything that it is.
Key to the Q50’s nature are its understated good looks, comfortable interior, and a strong road presence. Like most in the luxury sport sedan market, the Infiniti Q50 is offered in a variety of performance flavors from the daily driving 2.0t model with its turbocharged four-cylinder to the powerful Red Sport 400 and the fuel-sipping Q50 Hybrid model. We spent our week driving the middle-road 3.0t model with its turbocharged six-cylinder engine and would recommend it as the Q50 of choice for most buyers.
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t combines strong performance with a likeable price point. Much of the focus gets put on the Red Sport 400 model, which deserves that notice, but which most will likely find overpowered and too highly priced to compensate. The well-done 3.0-liter V6 in the 3.0t model outputs 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which are more than enough to make a midsize luxury sedan feel powerful and go fast. The solid range of output the engine has is well managed by the smart automatic transmission that comes attached and the tight and balanced chassis all of it sits upon.
We drove the all-wheel drive model and would recommend it for not only its added control, but its peace of mind when the weather goes sour. We had snow and bad weather during our time with the 2018 Q50 3.0t and it proved itself capable in those conditions.
Fuel economy in the 2018 Q50 is good, with the 3.0t model returning 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway on paper and a little better than that, we found, in real life. Compared to the less powerful 2.0t’s 23/31 and the more powerful Red Sport 400’s 20/26, the 3.0t’s V6 seems to balance power output and economy well.
Key to the 2018 Infiniti Q50’s appeal is its timeless exterior design, which starts with an understated front grille and hawkeye-shaped headlamps. A hoodline shaped for speed, fenders bulging with power, and an unobtrusive rear fender design all combine to make for that timeless, sport-tuned quality that the Q50 carries with it.
Our chief concerns with the Infiniti Q50 are in the interior, where the dual screen infotainment often vies with itself to see which screen will glare more often and the somewhat cramped trunk space. The latter being especially true if you prefer to carry a full-sized spare tire.
Where the interior shines, however, is everywhere else. Quality materials and high-end workmanship are seen in the cabin with ergonomics and layout being very well done. We like the low-slung dashboard, which keeps the cabin cozy without impinging on legroom, and the cushioning way the rear seating is shaped to keep rear headroom high despite the sloping roofline.
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 2.0t has a base price of $34,200 while the 3.0t starts at $38,950. We recommend bumping that over forty thousand to get the 3.0t Sport model with AWD for the best mix of accoutrements and drivetrain.