Malaysia may have hosted its final grand prix on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean that its involvement in Formula One is coming to an end. PETRONAS has extended its technical partnership with the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team for the years to come, continuing its 22-year relationship with the sport.

It’s been a fruitful endeavour in the highest form of motor racing, as the multinational oil and gas company has been able to nurture its technological and human capital capabilities – especially in research and development – for its fuels and lubricants. Its partnership with the Brackley-based team has also netted it three consecutive world drivers’ and constructors’ championships.

But to understand how the company became the most successful fuel and lubricant supplier in the current hybrid era, you have to understand PETRONAS’ motorsports history, which began with the sponsorship of a local rally team in the early 1990s. At the time, the company was embarking on a global expansion plan to supplement its hydrocarbon reserves and develop a skilled, professional world-class workforce.

PETRONAS wanted to accelerate those objectives, so it turned to Formula One, signing on as a sponsor to the Red Bull Sauber team in 1995 – this positioned the company as an international brand and elevated Malaysia’s status on a global level. It was no mere marketing exercise either, as two years later the company became the team’s title and engine sponsor.

The deal coincided with the forming of Sauber PETRONAS Engineering, which built Ferrari engines and gearboxes for the team’s use. It was the beginning of the Formula One Technology Transfer Programme, in which PETRONAS engineers could participate and gain real F1 knowledge and experience.

Sauber PETRONAS Engineering was also involved in the development of new powertrains, and in 1998 it began testing a new 2.0 litre prototype engine for road car use. That engine became the PETRONAS E01, unveiled at the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999, of which PETRONAS was also a title sponsor.

PETRONAS continued to reap the benefits of its involvement in Formula 1, launching its Syntium range of F1-derived high-performance lubricants in 2000. By 2001, its technology transfer programme had grown to include eight engineers, and in that same year Sauber PETRONAS Engineering unveiled the PETRONAS GP 1, Malaysia’s first prototype motorcycle racing engine.

Research conducted at the PETRONAS Research and Scientific Services Laboratory for Formula One race cars resulted in the launch of PETRONAS Syntium 5000 in 2004. The following year, PETRONAS announced that it was extending its partnership with Sauber following BMW’s acquisition of the team, which became BMW Sauber F1.

The collaboration with the new team produced one race victory, 17 podiums and its then highest placing of second in the constructors’ championship in 2007. PETRONAS also created a driver development programme, the PETRONAS Formula Xperience (PFX), in conjunction with BMW Sauber F1.

A new chapter began in 2010 when PETRONAS became the title sponsor of Mercedes-Benz’s new works entry; the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team quickly racked up results, with Nico Rosberg scoring the marque’s first win in 57 years at the 2012 Chinese Grand Prix. The following year, the team signed on Lewis Hamilton, who also became PETRONAS’ technical performance consultant.

The introduction of V6 hybrid powertrains in 2014 kicked off the team’s dominance of the sport, winning the 2014, 2015 and 2016 constructors’ championships, as well as clinching the 2014 and 2015 drivers’ championships in the hands of Hamilton. Rosberg took the drivers’ title last year, in a season that saw the team win 19 out of 21 races.

Today, PETRONAS formulates and supplies total fluid solutions to the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team, and also provides fuels and lubricants to Force India and Williams, which also use Mercedes-AMG engines. The company has between 10 and 12 scientists – including two trackside engineers – involved in the formulation Formula One fluids that develop products for both the road and track.

Since 2010, PETRONAS has developed over 350 fuel, lubricant and functional fluid candidates for the team to test across five race products, including PETRONAS PRIMAX fuel as well as PETRONAS Syntium and PETRONAS Tutela lubricants. The company currently offers two fuel products, PRIMAX 97 and PRIMAX 95 with Advanced Energy Formula.

PRIMAX 97 features a new chemistry to reduce cylinder wall friction, resulting in smoother and quicker acceleration. It also removes and prevents the formation of deposits, protecting fuel injectors and improving combustion. As such, users will enjoy longer, smoother drives with each tank, as well as improved drivability. The lower sulphur content also protects sensitive emissions systems.

PRIMAX 95 with Advanced Energy Formula cleans the engine, optimising fuel delivery and creating a finer fuel spray – this enhances fuel combustion and energy release and reduces friction, minimising energy loss for superior fuel economy. PETRONAS PRIMAX and Dynamic Diesel fuels are available in over 2,500 stations in Malaysia and South Africa, and PETRONAS Syntium and Urania engine oils are offered in over 80 markets globally.

Creating world-class products begins with PETRONAS Fluid Technology Solutions, an intelligent approach to deliver superior fuels, lubricants and functional fluids. This incorporates learnings and experience from motorsports like Formula One, resulting in better fuel economy and reliability — for everyday vehicles.

So what’s next for PETRONAS in Formula One? Well, the extension of its partnership with the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team solidifies its involvement in the sport, allowing it to develop world-class products for the track, as well as for everyday people to use on the road.

The company pledges to continue improving The Winning Formula to enable the team to win time and time again, because it’s a process that doesn’t stop with one or two wins. Rather, it’s a quest that requires continuous engineering, to keep pushing the limits of technology. In other words, it’s here to stay.

For more information on PETRONAS’ motorsport endeavours, visit the official PETRONAS Motorsport Facebook page. You can also share your stories with PETRONAS Motorsport on social media using the hashtag #ourstorycontinues.