That Pink Bull is on a roll in the meanwhile is clear – we will measure its benefit not simply by way of lap occasions and race outcomes, but in addition within the amount of innuendo directed at it by rivals.
Mercedes may need landed a few blows by lobbying for brand spanking new wing flexibility checks and pitstop timing guidelines, however the reality stays that Pink Bull’s RB16B can nonetheless outpace Merc’s W12 on just about any circuit – by 1 / 4 of a second or extra per lap.
A part of that margin comes from the engine bay however isn’t an element of horsepower alone.
In Azerbaijan ExxonMobil, Pink Bull’s gas and lubricants associate, launched what it described as a “revolutionary” new oil which includes parts not historically utilized in lubricants. For the French Grand Prix Honda introduced a enormously revised specification of the all-new energy unit it launched at first of the season. These developments should not unrelated.
Trick gas ‘n’ lubes are nothing new in F1. Till pump gas turned obligatory, components to spice up energy and/or enhance resistance to pre-ignition (or ‘knock’) have been in frequent use. Superior lubricants then went hand-in-hand with unique metallurgy within the Nineteen Nineties as engine producers chased ever greater revs.
However as information analytics improved and the FIA clamped down on improvement within the 2000s, different alternatives emerged: if, for example, a lubricant may massively cut back friction whereas sustaining reliability, the engine would require much less cooling and due to this fact the sidepod apertures might be narrowed, lowering aerodynamic drag.
Max Verstappen, Pink Bull Racing RB16B
Photograph by: Motorsport Images
Within the period of homologated engines from 2007 onwards, gas and lubricants turned a improvement focus since mechanical modifications may solely be justified on reliability grounds (though this didn’t cease crafty producers sneaking efficiency upgrades by means of).
So whereas Honda insists its new PU spec isn’t extra highly effective than the one rolled out at first of the season, completely authorized modifications made within the title of reliability are believed to be enabling Pink Bull to run it in additional aggressive modes than earlier than. The unique association with ExxonMobil enhances and facilitates this.
Certainly one of Pink Bull’s bugbears through the latter seasons of its relationship with Renault was that it was unable to safe dyno time with its lubricants provider as a result of Renault was specializing in optimising its engines to work with its personal gas and lubes associate, Castrol. Since each Pink Bull-backed groups have been working solely with Honda – Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri since 2018, Pink Bull Racing since 2019 – improvements have been in a position to stream on this space.
“If it ups the effectivity of the engine slightly bit as a result of we now have much less pumping losses by means of it, we convey the friction down slightly bit, then these are all small steps that merely contribute to an total acquire within the automobile’s efficiency” Tomek Younger
Straightline velocity, beforehand not a Pink Bull robust swimsuit, has demonstrably improved – and the distinction was particularly noticeable at Paul Ricard, when the newest Honda engine got here on stream. Pink Bull naturally dismissed solutions from the Mercedes camp that the brand new engine begat this elevated velocity, placing it right down to improved power administration and operating slimmer-profile wings than Mercedes.
However the capacity to run the engine extra aggressively than earlier than is undoubtedly a contributor to Pink Bull’s present pre-eminence. ExxonMobil received’t reveal specifics concerning the chemical substances utilized in its new-generation Mobil 1 lubricant, however will admit it has appeared to parts normally found in products from the cosmetics industry. The important thing to the success of any high-performance lubricant is to deposit a protecting movie on the inner surfaces to cut back put on and friction – whereas on the identical time being low-viscosity to keep away from drag on shifting parts.
ExxonMobil World Motorsport Know-how Supervisor Tomek Younger advised GP Racing’s sister web site Motorsport.com: “The cosmetics business gives many distinctive naturally derived parts and we needed to consider a variety of comparable merchandise earlier than selecting the right.
“These new parts have been included as they have been discovered to supply many advantages, together with stronger interactions with steel surfaces and decrease friction, serving to ship most energy whereas providing safety and gas effectivity.
“These advantages translate into a capability to run the engine throughout a wider vary of situations.”
Younger says the preliminary thought to make use of such chemical substances got here up round eight years in the past, and so they have been examined in ExxonMobil’s laboratories since then. However it’s solely comparatively just lately, throughout Pink Bull’s partnership with Honda, that it’s been in a position to consider it whereas operating on the dyno.
Younger provides: “Some parts of the chemical composition of our new engine oil are a departure from what we might usually formulate a product with. What was an extended shot a number of years in the past – a imaginative and prescient of a low-ash, high-temperature, low-friction engine oil that comes with bio-based parts turned a actuality this yr, due to the efforts of our entire group, in collaboration with Honda and Pink Bull. We consider this may provide us alternatives into the long run.”
“If it’s improved the engine reliability slightly bit,” says Pink Bull chief engineer Paul Monaghan, “then it makes it simpler for us to watch the three energy items per yr regulation. And it additionally provides us the power to run it extra free with the miles in its most performant mode.
“We will additionally be taught extra concerning the automobile by means of a race weekend quite than having probably a restriction. When it comes to outright efficiency, if it ups the effectivity of the engine slightly bit as a result of we now have much less pumping losses by means of it, we convey the friction down slightly bit, then these are all small steps that merely contribute to an total acquire within the automobile’s efficiency.”
Max Verstappen, Pink Bull Racing RB16B
Photograph by: Pink Bull Content material Pool
It’s vanishingly uncommon for a single part to yield a lap time enchancment within the order of what Pink Bull has achieved this season, however what it will possibly do is open potentialities which result in a virtuous cycle. On this case, gas and lubes working in tandem with energy unit provider and chassis designers to search out aerodynamic good points in addition to energy and reliability.
“We’re nonetheless working with Pink Bull and Honda to build up extra efficiency information,” says Younger when requested if it’s attainable to quantify the brand new oil formulation’s contribution to Pink Bull’s lap time good points. “The group is consistently refining each side that may end up in a profit, so there are at all times a number of modifications in play.
“We made this oil so uncommon that the engine can run even more durable down the street, so additional optimisations to the aerodynamics and to the working situations will probably be attainable” Tomek Younger
“Ultimately it might be troublesome to separate out at-the-track oil contribution with the contributions from gas, engine operation parameters, and automobile aerodynamics. However we had examined a number of formulations with Pink Bull and Honda in a laboratory, earlier than choosing the one we race with.”
What ought to trigger Mercedes to fret is the probability of Honda discovering additional methods to take advantage of the brand new formulation earlier than it bows out of Formulation 1 on the finish of the season and fingers the engine over to Pink Bull.
“We made this oil so uncommon that the engine can run even more durable down the street,” says Younger. “So additional optimisations to the aerodynamics and to the working situations will probably be attainable.”
Max Verstappen, Pink Bull Racing RB16B
Photograph by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images