Lubricants, F.1's best kept secret

They affect the stopwatch, are capable of providing more power and allow the engine to perform in the most extreme conditions, as well as extend its life.

In the F1 Each thousandth is worth its weight in gold and that is why all the teams make the most of the latest technologies in search of the best time. This includes lubricants, which play a more important role every day and have become one of the keys to the team. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, great dominator of the last decade.

Lewis Hamilton
Photo: LAT Images

It is paradoxical that, despite their importance, lubricants are the great unknown of the F.1 for the general public, but not for engineers. The brands are working towards manufacturing the oil capable of giving more power to the engine, within the strict consumption limitation established by the regulations of the FIA, which this year went from 0,6 to 0,3 liters per 100 kilometers. Another fundamental aspect is reliability, since the teams can only use three power units during the season and exceeding that number entails a 10-position penalty on the starting grid the first time it is replaced and five, the following.

In this demanding scenario, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team has become the great rival to beat and has managed to conquer the world title of both Constructors and Drivers in the last seven years in a row. One of the secrets of its success are Syntium lubricants used by their cars that give them a great plus in performance and reliability, two fundamental aspects in motorsport.

Photo: Antony Jones / Getty Images.

This is achieved because, in addition to lubricating, the oil helps to cool the engines in the most extreme conditions and at very high temperatures. The most exposed parts are pistons, crankshaft and connecting rods, so they need special protection, which Petronas guaranteed thanks to the viscosity of its products, created to reduce engine friction.

During an entire season, Mercedes consumes around 60 thousand liters of lubricants. The engine oil tank has a capacity of three liters that technicians replace after each session during a Grand Prix. Its composition must be designed to render at more than 100 degrees centigrade Of temperature or 15.000 rpm that reaches the 6-liter V1.6 turbo-hybrid engine.

Along with Syntium motor oil, Petronas supplies four other fluids: fuel, gearbox oil, hydraulic fluid and KERS fluid. The excellent performance of all these lubricants is undoubtedly due to the great work that their experts do in the field.

Valtteri Bottas
Photo: Steve Etherington.

Thanks to the mobile laboratory installed in all the Grands Prix, the researchers from Petronas Lubricants International (PLI) analyze, in real time, the performance of their products based on the samples taken after each session.

In his constant desire to improve himself, this season the winner of the second global competition organized by Petronas has joined the team as a track fluid engineer, In De Liow. After a meticulous selection process that culminated in an interview with the General and Executive Director of PLI, Giuseppe D'Arrigo, the chosen engineer was a 26-year-old Malaysian who supported the team throughout the tournament.

Petronas's relationship with the F.1 began in the 90s and is fraught with successes, especially since it became a title sponsor and technology partner of Mercedes-AMG in 2010. All the titles on the track have always been endorsed by great advances in the laboratories. In 2018 the Malaysian firm inaugurated its Global Center for Research and Technology (R&T) of Turin, where it has developed a new and revolutionary generation of fuels and lubricants which, after passing the most demanding conditions of F.1, are progressively introduced to the market. Since mid-2019, the new Petronas Syntium range is available with ° CoolTech, which includes the brand's first lubricant for hybrid engines.



Automundo is the blog about news from the automotive industry, motorsport and the culture of the region. Director: Diego Durruty.

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