Malaysia’s Petronas uses F1 to enhance fuels and lubricants

Following the announcement of revolutionary regulation changes for the 2014 Formula 1 season, Petronas spent more than three years working closely with Mercedes to engineer a brand new range of customised fuels and lubricants with a competitive edge in the new hybrid engine era. The success story of 2014 proved they were on the right track with their formulations.

For the 2014 season, Petronas developed a fuel that enhances protection of the engine, provides better combustion and improves driveability. The fuel prevents engine damage by cleaning and protecting the critical high-pressure direct injection system and sensitive engine parts: the fuel formulation has been optimised to provide better combustion via enhanced energy release.

The advanced energy formula was designed to ensure good driving with superior acceleration, building upon the efficiency gains already achieved in development for the previous season.

With its increased power per litre of displacement, the 1.6lt internal combustion engine (ICE) of the Formula 1 hybrid era also runs hotter than its 2.4lt predecessor. This requires lubricants that do not get too thin under high temperatures and resist oxidation – balanced with a requirement to minimize friction within the ICE for reduced fuel consumption.

The engine oil must therefore possess distinct thermal characteristics to withstand higher operating temperatures and cylinder pressures, and be optimized to effectively contribute to cooling. The use of energy recovery systems (ERS) also brings the challenge of heat dissipation, requiring an ERS fluid that cools the system effectively.

Equipped with a unique formulation to defend against extreme temperature and maintain optimum engine performance, Petronas Syntium proved to be a winning formula in 2014, with Petronas scientists also translating its advanced technology into the formulation of ERS fluid.

During the course of last year’s season, Petronas upgraded its on-track chemical analysis to gain greater insight into the changes occurring in the oil within the engine under extreme conditions. This gave key insights into how to further improve lubricant performance in terms of heat management, friction reduction and hardware durability.

With Formula 1 power units now aligned to downsized, turbocharged road car engines, this intensive research and development becomes particularly pertinent. Designed to enable engines to perform optimally in the most extreme conditions, the unique formulation of Petronas Primax, Petronas Syntium and Petronas Tutela products addresses engine needs both on and off the racetrack.

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