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The Mercedes AMG Petronas team dominated the 2014 Formula One season, sweeping up both drivers’ and constructors’ championships. With the 2015 F1 circus making its next stop in Malaysia this week after the first race in Australia (where the team made a strong start to the championship by scoring a 1-2 finish), Petronas recently arranged a press conference with the team – including its drivers, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg – to discuss the national oil company’s contribution to the team’s success.

Firstly, executive director of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff, dispelled any myths that the partnership between Petronas and Mercedes-AMG was a simple marketing collaboration, insisting that it brought real benefits to the team.

“Petronas’ role was hugely important to the success of the team,” Wolff said. “The whole technical and engineering team at Petronas understood what the needs of the new power unit regulations were. I can tell you that from last season onwards, the fuels and oils provided by Petronas provided a real competitive advantage for our team.”

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With new F1 regulations cutting the number of power units allocated per season to just four, Petronas’ Fluid Technical Solutions (FTS) initiative – providing tailor-made fluids and services to the F1 team – is starting to reveal its benefits. The national oil company has a trackside laboratory that follows the team at every race, and the team elaborated on how the support enabled it to score a near-perfect reliability record last year.

“We are particularly proud about that lab, because it’s one of a kind,” Wolff said. “The more the rules tighten, and the more complicated things become, the more essential it is to find out early on if you’re running into trouble. These guys play a crucial role in identifying possible reliability issues – in the oils, for example, you can see debris at a very early stage. It enables us to make sure that we finish races and win.”

“What our lab support does is function like doctors,” added Petronas Lubricants International (PLI) COO Eric Holthusen. “The lubricant in the engine is like the blood in our bodies. When we take samples, we can tell if the engine is healthy or if something is coming. It’s even more important these days with the new regulations – where only four engines per season are allowed – that we can make sure that the engine stays healthy.”

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With F1 cars being so fast these days, it’s easy to write Formula One off as an irrelevant “rich boys’ sport” that provides little in the way of benefits to the actual consumer. The team was quick to dismiss these claims.

“This is a proving ground for us and for Petronas,” Wolff said. “It is the fastest mobile lab, and the fuels and oils that we’re using in the Formula One car – and the technologies derived from them – we use in our road cars. We’re very proud to have taken Petronas and Mercedes from a marketing cooperation into such a high-tech development relationship, not only on the race track but also on the road.”

“If you look at what path engines have taken in Formula One and also on the road, they have been downsized, they have become turbocharged,” Holthusen added. “All that puts heat stress on the lubricant. By working in Formula One, we were already familiar with those conditions, and have developed Petronas Syntium for Formula One with technology that we call CoolTech. Now, the new Petronas Syntium with CoolTech is the lubricant that is in each and every Mercedes-AMG model that comes off the production line.”

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This synergy also extends to the fuels – both the one that powers the F1 car as well as the one that is available to the regular consumer – explains Petronas fuel expert Chan Ming Yau. “The team that works on fuel technology isn’t limited to Formula One fuel, it also works on all our Petronas Primax range of fuels as well as our Dynamic Diesel.”

“This season, we launched our new Petronas Primax race fuel that enhances protection on the high-pressure injector system used in Formula One, as well as providing better combustion and drivability. In our Petronas Primax 95 with Advanced Energy Formula, you’ll see the same attributes – it cleans the engine for superior fuel delivery, creates a finer fuel spray for better combustion and energy release, and reduces friction for better drivability.”

Chan also explained that race and commercial fuels are not as dissimilar as many think. “The FIA already requires that the chemistries we use are compounds normally found in commercial road petrol – it prohibits the use of specific power boosting chemicals, for example. So they have the same chemistries, the same components, just different proportions, different compositions.”

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Last year, Petronas announced that Lewis Hamilton would take on a role as its technical performance consultant – 12 months on, the 30-year-old Brit gave his insight as to how the arrangement has worked to benefit both sides.

“It’s been a real privilege to work with a group of people who are so goal-driven, so enthusiastic and determined to be the best – it’s a great thing that we have that in common as a team,” he said. “The engineers rely on the two drivers to give as much input and feedback, as our job is to go out there and push the car to the limit, which ultimately means putting the fuel and lubricants to the limit. We’re always pushing them to extract more, as we always want more power and we always want to go further.

“And now we’re under pressure as we have only 100 kg of fuel to finish the race, and we can’t always make that. So we’re really pushing them to exceed expectations and bring out new fuel that can go further for the same amount. Hence my job is to lean on them and extract the best out of them.”

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All throughout the event, the team made one thing clear – Petronas makes the best fuel and lubricants in F1 today. “That helped us so much in winning races and being world champions last year,” said Nico Rosberg. “I’m very grateful for the quality of the products that Petronas has created and are delivering to us.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team will be hoping to do very well at this weekend’s 2015 Malaysia Grand Prix, this being one of its home races. It certainly would be unwise to figure it as a shoe-in for winning the race, but given its incredible form at the start of the season, there’s little doubt it’ll be the team to beat.