Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Sidepodscience: Quite a challenging challenge - An update on our investigation into Shell versus BP fuel

Published by Mr. C

V-Power station

It's been a good month now since we launched the Sidepodscience Shell V-Power Challenge, and we've started to get some results in and have begun drawing conclusions. Although the experiment is by no means over, here are some of the things we've discovered.

User experience

Mr C was the first to get the experiment underway. He was already using BP Regular and the aim was to switch to BP Ultimate, then move on to V-Power to try and evaluate the difference. This plan immediately went out the window when his nearest BP garage was shut. Instead, he made it to a Shell garage.

The problem with the Shell stations is that there are only a very select few that run the V-Power diesel. Petrol is abundant, diesel not so much. Once you've found the right forecourt, there is only one pump with the desired fuel, which means queuing is much more likely.

I found this out when I started my experiment... a couple of weeks late. I had regular supermarket fuel and was making the jump to V-Power to investigate the difference. I went out of my way to the right Shell garage but missed out on the special pump, and it was so busy, I couldn't swap lanes. I ended up with Shell regular diesel.

Once you know how it works, it's not so bad, but it does seem like a bit more work to try and get the V-Power rather than the BP Ultimate. However, the BP garage is sometimes closed, so perhaps that makes things equal.

Mr C did note that you acquire "V-Power Club" points when you top up with the special diesel. A club for fuel? I wonder what you get at the end of it.

Performance

Once we managed to get our hands on the desired fuels, we came to these conclusions. Mr C tried out V-Power and found it made the engine performance a little bit smoother. He particularly enjoyed the part where you can go up hill in a higher gear than normal, because you are too lazy to change down. I can heartily agree with this.

My fuel findings were similar, but I was much more impressed with the difference, having not used superior fuels before. On the way back from the Shell station, there was little to notice, and I was disappointed. It turns out I was being impatient though, as just a couple of journeys later, I was suddenly impressed with what was going on. Travelling through a town, you may as well not bother having low gears. You can pull away from a stop in second, if you so desire. V-Power elimates the need for first gear. Fact.

Now, Mr C finally managed to switch to BP Ultimate, so he could compare the two fuels, and found that when he put BP in the car, it was a completely different story. I'm pretty sure the words he used were "like a bucking bronco" as he tried to navigate out of the garage. BP seems to give you a speed advantage, a competitive edge, but V-Power gives you a much smoother ride.

What's next?

As someone who drives pretty fast anyway, I'm not sure that having a boost of speed is something I'm craving. However, I will try the BP Ultimate next to see what the man is going on about. To make it a fairer test, I went back to supermarket fuel, and I can honestly say it was a depressing moment. I didn't want to dirty my engine with the nasty fuel, I liked the clean feel of the V-Power. I am definitely a convert.

Mr C has tried both fuels now, and prefers the BP Ultimate. It suits his car, and his driving style. The conclusion is that superior fuels really do make a difference, but the two seem to provide different improvements, and it's a personal choice.

We will cover our final conclusions in an upcoming debrief, and hopefully we can put some questions to Dave, the nice Shell road fuel man that we met at Silverstone. If you've got any questions, let us know, and we'll pass them along.