How big of a role does engine oil play when on track
Much like in any other area of high-end competition and sportsmanship, the limelight of motorsport places an enormous pressure and a level of expectancy on the individuals brave and skillful enough to take upon the wheel. Needless to say, both the driver and the vehicle must be at their best in order to meet the expectations, and preparations are made on every field possible. Engine oil is undoubtedly one of the key components that ensures the desirable state of the car in such extreme conditions, allowing the driver to take full advantage of the mechanical beast on the road. The fact that these types of oil are used for industrial and aviation purposes speaks of their value and necessity, and the role they play when it comes to the racing track is anything but neglectable.
Composing the contexture
Pouring the oil down the engine shaft and having it perform the intended task is but the tip of the iceberg, especially when it comes to the world of professional racing and high-end cars. It can be a meticulous task to choose the right oil for the engine, and numerous factors are looked at when deciding. Not only are there a number of different, unique manufacturers, but the oils themselves vary both in property details within the same class as well as the base composition that separates them into multiple groups. From mineral oils deriving from fractionally distilled petroleum, to synthetic oils which are far more refined and purified, over semi synthetic oils that lie somewhere in between, there are certain advantages to each. However, if one is to push the engine to its utmost extreme on the road, picking the synthetic oil is a no-brainer: its more consistent molecular size, higher viscosity index, flash point (temperature point of incineration) and purity give it more uniform properties, allowing for better performance on the higher end of the temperature spectrum.
Video : the BMW works driver Augusto Farfus talks of engine oil importance on the track
Calming the storm
There are a few key points that make synthetic oil perfect for engines in extreme conditions that the motorsport drivers face, and each of them shows not only the importance of the substance for the life of the engine but the direct implications it has on performance and hence on the outcome of the race. With so many parts of the engine rubbing against each other during its uptime, one of the main purposes of the lubricant is to keep the engine safe from mechanical wear. Maintaining the engine’s effectiveness and longevity concerns every car owner, especially so those that put them to the test daily, making the reduction of friction and wear within the engine one of synthetic oil’s best qualities.
Naturally, with the high speed of rotation comes extensive heat, and the oil is there to relieve the engine of its detrimental effects as well. Pistons can reach temperatures of over 300°C and lowering this threshold is crucial for the survival of the engine in any race. The oil’s ability to transmit the force effectively can sometimes mean the difference between opening the champagne bottle and going home without points, and it’s a reason enough to consider the oil with care.
Lisa Lilley, the Shell Technology Manager for Ferrari, stated: “When you consider that the oil flow rates around the engine are faster than the speed of the Ferrari Formula One car, this gives you an idea of the extreme conditions in a Formula One engine,” giving enormous weight to the importance of engine oil. Manufacturers are aware of it and the “testing grounds” of companies like Castrol, RAVENOL, Shell, and others, serve to constantly keep perfecting the craft as their relationship with motorsports is all but symbiotic.
A relationship for the ages
The roots of the relationship between racing as a sport and engine oil manufacturers stretch deep, going far back into the 20th century and benefiting both sides immensely. Honoring this mutually beneficial pact, many teams have been represented by the engine oil manufacturing companies, as well as the tracks and monumental races themselves. PennGrade Motor Oil and the parent D-A Lubricant Company have a history of representing the Indianapolis 500 that stretches back to 1950, and the honor of being the sponsor for the 100th running of one of the world’s greatest races is also theirs in 2016; among many other teams and races, RAVENOL is a known technology supporter of Phoenix Racing (Audi) and MRS (Nissan) racing in the ADAC GT Masters (also called “The League of the Supercars”). It’s clear how the world’s largest single-day sporting event that is transmitted in 147 countries around the world or the motorsport series that is highly popular among motor-racing enthusiasts can contribute to the sponsor, and in answer to such benefaction, companies have been putting immense effort into perfecting their products.
Constant innovations and research aren’t only needed, they are expected, given the extremity of conditions, regulations, and the progression of car manufacturing itself. On-site laboratories are one of the ways for engine oil manufacturers to get a close look at their products first-hand, tweaking and recording properties and changes as they are being used which gives both the manufacturer and the car engineers the edge in their line of work. Companies like Shell, RAVENOL, Castrol, and others, continually perform these type of on-site tests, dedicating a lot of resources towards such goal which gives a notion of the importance of engine oil in the world of motorsport.
Playing a critical role
Though you may anticipate the skills of a driver sitting behind the wheel when enjoying a motorsport race, the truth is that there are a myriad of important puzzle pieces that needed to be aligned before the light turns green, and engine oil is most certainly one of them. Performing as many crucial tasks in environments that are anything but forgiving, the choice of an engine oil and its application will hardly escape any racing-oriented mind. With the longevity of the engine pieces as well as their performance during the race being on the line, the importance of the engine oil assumes a monumental position.