EXCLUSIVE | In conversation with Chan Ming Yau, the man leading Petronas' F1 fuel project

Chan Ming Yau, principal of fuel technology, Petronas (Petronas)
Chan Ming Yau, principal of fuel technology, Petronas (Petronas)

• Petronas is the fuel and lubricant partner to the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team.

• The partnership has won every F1 championship since 2014.

• Petronas' Chan Ming Yau talks exclusively to Wheels24 on their F1 project.

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While we know that Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, there is a lot that goes into producing an F1 car. The intricacies of these racing machines are so intense that even a 1% deviation from the perfect setup can have a monumental effect on on-track performance. But for an F1 car to run, it requires fuel and other liquids - an integral part in ensuring that drivers cross the finish line.

Petronas is the fuel and lubricant partner to the Mercedes-AMG F1 team and has helped the team achieve great levels of success over the last seven seasons. When the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014, Petronas was on the button with the product they gave Mercedes, and the partnership has delivered unprecedented success.

To better understand what goes into producing the fuel for an F1 car, Wheels24 had an exclusive interview with Chan Ming Yau, the principal of fuel technology for Petronas.

For fuel to work optimally in an F1 car, the fuel provider must look at the relationship between human and machine. This relationship, says Yau, revolves around extracting the maximum power and response from the engine while at the same time being as fuel-efficient as possible. Fuel efficiency is an essential aspect of the turbo-hybrid era, and teams must complete a race distance with a maximum of 100kg of fuel.

Chan says that an F1 car runs on five types of lubricants, which consists of fuel and various kinds of oils. Every ounce of these lubricants must be in tip-top condition, or team and driver will not get the results they were hoping on.

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Petronas, says Chan, has, for the last ten years, produced around 50 fuel candidates per year for their F1 project. The fuel is under constant development and with new regulations initially planned for 2021 (now 2022), the fuel provider produced about 100 candidates in 2019 in preparation for the sport's new phase. This is quite different from the fuel used for road cars, as this type of fuel only needs to be revisited every few years. Yet, while F1 implements the latest technologies, these do find their way to road cars.

Downsizing, forced induction, alternative and/or additional sources of power (hybridization) are all elements that filter through to the road, and some aspects of the fuel do too.

What are crucial considerations when it comes to which brand's fuel you put in your vehicle? Email us.

F1 for the road

While Petronas sees its F1 project as a high priority, it sees ordinary road users and their cars in the same light. In a survey conducted by the lubricant giant, respondents indicated that they want their fuel to offer the same levels of performance at the start, middle, and end of a journey. This is similar to what F1 teams require throughout a Grand Prix distance.

Chan notes that their F1 platform is used in tandem with their road project to produce fuel for road cars, where the fuel must be a smooth, responsive, and efficient product.

As F1 prepares for the new regulations that will come into effect in 2022, road users can be assured that as the fuel for the sport becomes ever more efficient, so too will the road-going product produced by F1's fuel suppliers. Locally, Petronas' Primax fuel is available in Engen's new generation of fuel - benefitting from the same fuel advancements as the Mercedes F1 team. This also applies to the fuel maker's Syntium oil.

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