Shell Bitumen’s road surfacing products enable millions of commuters to go about their business every day. The functionality and purpose of our products fly under the radar most of the time – and that’s good news because when roads are in good condition you are not supposed to notice them.

The one exception: world-class racetracks, where performance and safety are in the limelight. Enjoyed by roughly 500 million fans around the world, Formula One is full of excitement, high energy, rivalries and drama. And its enduring popularity is aided by the safe and durable racetracks made possible by Shell Bitumen innovations like Shell Cariphalte®.

Racetrack Application

To date, we’ve partnered with 17 leading motorsport circuits around the world, including Silverstone in the United Kingdom, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi, and the Nürburgring in Germany. 

Just like the finely tuned vehicles and highly-skilled drivers, the racetrack plays a vital role when it comes to world-class racing. Our Shell Cariphalte® binder is a high-performance modified bitumen, specifically developed to meet the demands of these professional circuits.

Making tracks in Singapore

Maintaining busy urban roads in any country is difficult, but in Singapore, Shell Bitumen was brought in to help with a particular challenge: to provide the surface for a normal city road by day, and a Formula One Grand Prix racetrack by night (a first of its kind!). 

As drivers fly through the turns of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, they face temperatures in excess of 30°C and humidity levels above 70%. In order to meet safety standards, the track surface must remain constant despite the challenges of the tropical climate and the constant wear from everyday users as well as the race cars. 

Shell Cariphalte® is the ideal choice because of the tough three-dimensional polymer network within the bitumen that gives it an increased stiffness at high temperatures. It also has a substantially increased elasticity which helps to reduce cracking, and all these qualities combined make it ideal for the extreme heat and humidity of the Singapore circuit.

Marina Bay Street Circuit

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Detail 1

Down the straight

Formula One cars can reach speeds of up to 340km/h, and tyres can reach temperatures of 130°C – that’s when the rubber starts to tear. Shell Cariphalte® helps to increase the stiffness of the road surface, meaning better resistance to shear cracking which is vital for roads which need to withstand extreme speeds and force.

Detail 2

The racing line

Drivers take the fastest route – the racing line, which means more wear and tear in a concentrated area. This is the opportunity for drivers to go at full-throttle, causing the surface to lift. Shell Cariphalte® improves the resistance to surface deformation meaning a longer life for the road.

Detail 3

Into the chicane

Drivers take some corners at full speed, and the G-force experienced at 300km/h can cause stones to chip out of track, making for a bumpier ride and a huge threat to the safety of the driver. To mitigate this, Shell Cariphalte® can increase the resistance to fretting from surface shear stress helping make the track more durable and safer. 

Detail 4


Brake discs can reach temperatures of 1,000°C which puts stress on the tyres. Combined with humidity and moisture, it’s a challenge to stay on track. Grip is everything. The durability of Shell Cariphalte® helps to avoid degradation of the surface, helping give drivers the grip they need. 

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Racetracks rejuvenated

With the circuit in Singapore, durability was vital given the road’s dual use as busy urban street by day, Formula One track by night. However, the hard-wearing nature of Shell Cariphalte® was also key for one of our most recent projects involving the rejuvenation of the Circuit Zandvoort racetrack in the Netherlands, which has been out of the racing scene for 36 years.

The Circuit Zandvoort will host the Dutch Grand Prix in 2021 and its location poses a very unique challenge when resurfacing the track. The site is situated on the coast, nestled among sand dunes and very close to the sea. The abrasive sand of the dunes coupled with sea salt are unfavourable conditions that would accelerate wear and tear of the track.

Shell Bitumen created an adapted binder for this project with support from our advanced testing laboratory in Strasbourg. A special Shell Cariphalte® asphalt mixture was designed for its ability to withstand rutting, cracking, stripping and ageing, which made it the perfect solution for the coastal environment, but also for its workability in low temperatures, as the track was laid in very cold conditions.

Circuit Zandvoort has joined a long list of racetracks paved with Shell Cariphalte® that excel under the pressures of the world’s best-loved motorsport. Why not take a look at our video to see how we delivered the project in close collaboration with Zandvoort’s track management team.


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