Dr Valeria Loreti is the Motorsport Delivery Manager at Shell, a prominent partner to several motorsport teams including, most notably, Scuderia Ferrari. A passion for science and a love of motorsport have delivered Dr Loreti to where she is today, leading a diverse team, dedicated to pursuing perfection.
“I am the go-to person, coordinating all the work around the technical parts of all of Shell’s motorsport partnerships,” Valeria tells Females in Motorsport. “It’s not just about putting the sticker on the side of the car, it’s really around common development and the partnership with Ferrari is really the best example of that.
“We work on a day-to-day basis together to innovate and develop fuels and lubricants. I have chemists and engineers working for me and they are responsible for innovating, developing, and testing the fuels and lubricants, in close contact with the Ferrari engineers.”
Working with Ferrari, Formula One’s oldest and most iconic team is at the centre of Dr Loreti’s work. Not only does her role require a significant degree of both scientific and leadership capabilities, but she also needs passion and drive to achieve the best results.
“You need to love it - it’s work that you can only do if you dedicate yourself one-hundred percent,” she says. “There’s a need for a certain degree of resilience. There’ll be times where things never stop and you have to be always switched on.”
For Dr Loreti science, and more specifically chemistry is one of her earliest loves and a passion that she shares with her physicist father and one that was nurtured in the classroom.
“I had the opportunity to share with my father a lot of questions and knowledge and I was always attracted to that,” she says. “Then we had chemistry lessons in school and I thought ‘Wow chemistry is cool!’ being in the lab, doing things with your hands and seeing reactions, it was really love at first sight”
After finishing school, Valeria pursued her love of chemistry at university with the initial goal of becoming a chemist. However, she became fascinated with energy and fuels and how these can be used to power mobility and deliver energy to our homes.
Following the completion of her PhD in Germany, Valeria’s fascination led her to Shell and the world of Formula One.
“I was looking around and I had the opportunity to apply for Shell,” she says. “I started in the technology department and focused my career around fuels technology.
“I was always very interested in Formula One and Ferrari was my team, so I followed the grand prix all that I could. It was always a little bit of a dream to be in this position and be able to travel around and meet people.”
Not only did joining Shell provide Valeria with a platform to build a successful career in a field and sport she adores, but also a welcoming atmosphere, promoting a healthy work-life balance.
“As I started my career at Shell, I always found a very comfortable atmosphere, so I never had any experience of being handled any differently because of my gender,” she says. “Shell is a very good employer from that perspective - there’s open-mindedness, teams and line managers really try to work together with the employees to create a good work-life balance.”
Despite living out her dream, like for many across the globe, the past year has presented Valeria and Shell with a unique set of challenges.
“It [Covid] forces you to do things differently,” she says. "We have in front of us big challenges, mainly the Formula One regulations that are changing. We’re all striving for higher sustainability and for new ideas and we need to find the best route to the 2025 goal.
“In a normal world, you bring the best brains together. You have a big workshop and a big whiteboard that everybody can scribble on and really get yourself into this idea mode, now we can’t and it’s not easy to have something similar via Zoom.”
Regardless of the present challenges, Valeria is looking forward to the rest of 2021 and beyond.
“I’m really looking forward to travelling again and meeting my team and partners, all of those people I’ve been writing to and talking to over Zoom,” she says. “I’m a social animal, I need to interact with people!”
As our conversation drew to a close, Valeria considered the current position of women in motorsport and the progress that has been made.
“In motorsport teams at the racetrack, there’s definitely a high number of men versus the number of women, but I think we’re growing and the number of women that I see is spread across a number of roles from analysts, to engineers,” she says. “It’s not just those traditional roles around marketing and communication.”
Finally, Valeria offered her advice to young women looking to follow her into the world of motorsport.
“The big barrier we need to break [as women in motorsport] is in our own minds and that would be my advice, don’t put a limit on your dreams. Don’t think you’re not good enough for anything because I’m convinced that hard work, passion and dedication can bring people quite a long way.
“If you really want something, if you know what your objective is, then work hard to get it and don’t be shy.”
You can find current career opportunities at Shell here