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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Synthetic engine oil used in F1.

Why is synthetic engine oil used in F1 different to that used in road cars.

Engine lubrication and specifically the synthetic engine oil used in F1 is one of the few areas not highly regulated; as such oil companies spend a lot of time and money developing oils specifically for these high performance engines. One well known brand has 55 scientists working more than 21 000 man hours every Formula one season.

Although the building blocks
of synthetic engine oil used in F1 are the same as in road cars, in order to meet the specific requirements, the percentages are very different: obviously, the base oil, anti-foaming elements (crucial in F1 due to high engine speeds), friction modifiers, active cleaning agents and viscosity index improvers, all have a role in optimising performance.

The additives in F1 lubricants are very specific, since the engine lubricant is designed to protect the engine over a short distance only. That’s why there are only small amounts of detergent, which cleans the parts, and dispersing agents, which keep foreign substances in suspension.

How synthetic engine oil used in F1 improves performance.

However, from an engine performance perspective, the real interest may lie in the total friction within these units. In a typical touring car using SAE 15W/40, the total engine friction is estimated to be 7.5 kW. Of this, 55% comes from the bearings, only 39% from the pistons and 6% from the valvetrain. Reducing the lubricant viscosity (Thinner motor oil) lowered the friction in the bearings and piston ring pack but brought about an increase in the friction in the valve train.

Using similar evaluation techniques at the maximum speed of a Formula One engine, the optimised figure is a total of 65 kW, of which 46% comes from the piston assembly and 38% from the bearings. The remaining 16% (or 10 kW) was attributed to the valvetrain.

To reduce these losses oils are developed for use in a specific engine. Furthermore, oils with different characteristics are used for different circuits. For example the cooling properties of an oil at the Italian GP at Monza, where drivers spend 76 per cent of the lap at full throttle, with engine speeds of up to 18 000 r/min. are extremely important because the heat generated.

Why the development of synthetic engine oil used in F1 is so important to the teams.

As a cost cutting exercise the FIA introduced “engine freeze” regulations – which prohibits significant engine development: These rules do not apply to the oils used, so if the lubricants supplier can develop a new oil that delivers a power advantage, then its team will indeed be very happy - “horsepower for free”.

To measure the performance of synthetic engine oil used in F1 engines, oil suppliers carry out regular wear checks, evaluating the wear metals in the engine oil, at every race. This information on the state of the engine is available within 30 seconds from the time of submitting the sample!

You would never use the same synthetic engine oil used in F1 in your road car, that’s why you need to consult Habot Synthetic Lubricants about our range of synthetic automotive oils.


Unknown said...

As F1 cars use 1.5 liters of oil to 100 liters of fuel there must be a nitro type additive to prevent the engines smoking Love to know if Mercedes has found the best oil technicians