ExxonMobil, technology partner to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team since 1995, has introduced an innovative new lubricant and fuels package for use in the Mercedes-Benz FO 108X engines of the 2010 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-25 cars.
Following the FIA's regulation change banning in-race refueling, Mobil 1 engineers were tasked by the Team to place even greater focus on delivering fuel efficiency through reduced friction. This had to be achieved whilst ensuring the same levels of Mobil 1 protection that delivered 100 percent engine reliability in 2009 – as well as the first-ever three-race winning Formula One engine.
Martin Whitmarsh, team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, explains: "For the 2010 season we have an increased emphasis on fuel efficiency and on how we run our cars during the race. That's where our partnership with ExxonMobil helps us to be more competitive. It will be critical to our race strategy to optimize the starting weight and weight of the car during the race, while still delivering the durability that allows the engines to run just as hard but for much longer. The ExxonMobil team has responded to this, providing new lubricants and fuels that allow the engine to produce more horsepower, which obviously gives a lap time benefit."
The new Mobil 1 race oil formulation has been approved for use in the MP4-25 following more than four months of development in which the blend of approximately 20 constituents, base oil and additives, has been meticulously rebalanced to deliver the fractional improvements in lap times that make the difference between winning and losing.
Bruce Crawley, motorsports technology manager, explains: "The process of fuel and lubricant development begins in our Paulsboro research facility with the use of complex mathematical modeling to simulate many different compositions and predict their benefits. This allows us to concentrate our efforts and resources on a few leading formulations that are then developed further. The lead candidate was subjected to over 20,000 kilometers of dyno-testing and over 10,000 kilometers on the track in pre-season testing, before the optimum solution for the challenges of the 2010 season was selected."
With the 2010 cars starting each race with roughly twice as much fuel as in previous seasons, a significant redesign of the fuel tanks was undertaken. This process was mirrored by ExxonMobil in the reformulation of the fuel, as the relative importance of fuel efficiency as well as factors such as density increased. The new fuel has been designed and rigorously tested to meet these demands, whilst ensuring this is not achieved at the expense of power – once more, all in the pursuit of race-winning seconds.
Andy Cowell, chief engineer of Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, puts this in perspective: "We have already seen some great improvement in terms of efficiency from the FW to FX Mercedes-Benz engines, and as teams look to ration their fuel tightly to ensure the car is as light and therefore as quick as possible, management of fuel efficiency will be more important."