Santena (Turin), 3rd September 2020 – Motorsport racing was forced into an unexpected halt due to the Covid-19 pandemic, much to the disappointment of committed crews and fans around the world but September will see the Formula One Grand Prix return to Italian shores with races in Monza and Mugello on the 6th and 13th respectively.
As Title partner, PETRONAS co-engineered PETRONAS Fluid Technology Solutions™ which includes PETRONAS Primax fuel, PETRONAS Syntium engine oil and PETRONAS Tutela functional fluids, in close collaboration with the technical team at Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP).
PETRONAS’s support in Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS team fluids management does not come only from R&D but also from the constant presence on the track, thanks to a state-of-the-art mobile laboratory capable of monitoring the behaviors of the fluids since Tuesday before the race and, of course, during the rounds.
The PETRONAS Trackside Laboratory is an integral part of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team infrastructure. The facility brings precise laboratory conditions to the heart of the paddock, affording engineers the benefit of full diagnostic support during the race weekend.
Utilizing the most high-tech equipment in the industry, the PETRONAS Trackside Lab is managed by two PETRONAS Trackside Fluid Engineers, Stephanie Travers and En De Liow. Their task is to analyze samples of PETRONAS Primax racing fuel, PETRONAS Syntium oil and PETRONAS Tutela functional fluids to monitor the health and performance of the engine and gearbox.
“There has been a lot of changes with new SOPs and guidelines implemented at the paddock. But we chose to see this as more of an opportunity than a challenge, so we took time during the break to review every link in the chain to help us get back on track better,” said Stephanie, one of the few women engineers working behind the scenes in the F1 paddock.
With the newly introduced process, the team has improved the turnaround time to get the fluid test results and set an increased pace and efficiency since the season restarted in Austria.
“It’s my first F1 season and it has been great so far. We have a great team that’s positively receptive of the changes we’ve been trying to implement despite the SOPs and guidelines. So, there has been no shortage of support around us,” said Kuala Lumpur-born En De.
The two engineers were excited to add that they got a thumbs up for their efforts from Simon Cole, Chief Engineer Trackside at Mercedes; “The whole team have had to adjust to the new working environment at race tracks and that has included our PETRONAS Trackside Fluid Engineers. Stephanie and En De have done a great job, being pro-active in adapting processes in their work to ensure we can return to racing in the safest possible way.”
Their initial task at each race weekend is to extract a sample from each drum of PETRONAS Primax fuel for gas chromatography analysis. The fuel must be the same as the formulation registered and approved by the FIA, the sport’s sanctioning body, in order to be eligible and avoid incurring penalties.
Once the cars have been fired up, the PETRONAS Trackside Fluid Engineers analyze the PETRONAS Syntium engine oil and PETRONAS Tutela lubricant from the Energy Recovery System using a spectrometer. The fluids provide a diagnostic tool to give a snapshot of what is happening in the engine and gearbox. Particles in the oil, indicative of engine degradation, provide the team with an early warning of any problems.
Across the three days of track action at each race weekend, typically 65 engine oil and 30 transmission oil samples are taken. In addition to other samples taken in spot-checks, an impressive total of approximately 200 oil tests are executed per weekend. Furthermore, the PETRONAS Trackside Fluid Engineers take over 30 fuel samples each race weekend.
The fuel and lubricants development programme that PETRONAS has undertaken since 2010 has brought unrivalled success to the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and created one of the most dominant eras in the history of Formula 1®.
The PETRONAS Trackside Lab is the physical manifestation of that programme in the Formula 1 paddock.
“It’s all about being prepared. We get as much done as possible early in the week so that by midweek we are ready to go. From preparing spreadsheets to analyzing engine oil, the readiness helps us with maintaining the peace and aura within the lab and in the fast-paced environment that we are constantly in,” Stephanie shared.
“As you enter the race weekend it is essential to carry out your task within the established times, which are very tight. The new SOPs help us to maintain our Inner Cool and do our best even when the pressure is high, “concludes En De Liow.