ExxonMobil on developing new race fuel: 'Working closely together'

Published on 06 July 2019 by Bryan van Berlo

When a race fuel upgrade hits the track, it's the culmination of months and months of hard work from a dedicated team back at base. Fuel specialists can go through as many as 20 formulations before confirming one that is ready to hit the track. Eugine Choi, who is responsible for developing the Esso Synergy race fuel supplied to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, takes us through the process of creating a new race fuel specification.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are in their third season with ExxonMobil. How has the relationship grown and evolved over time?
“The relationship with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing can only be described as exciting. Year-on-year, we’ve seen the relationship and communication improve and that has had a positive impact on the product and the performance. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s commitment to winning, like we recently saw in Austria, is contagious and it makes everyone work even harder to help them achieve that goal. Honda shares the same commitment and I believe that the three brands are all working together effectively towards a common goal.“

How do you go about finding the next fuel upgrade for the team?
“New fuel formulations are designed from past experiences on the engine and fundamental combustion chemistry considerations. Now that we are in year three of the partnership, we have a bank of information, which we take into consideration when we create new fuel formulations for testing. Each time Honda introduces a new power unit, it provides an opportunity to optimize the fuel chemistry that can maximize the performance of the engine. We therefore work together closely with Honda and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on the timings with regards introducing a new Esso Synergy race fuel.”

How many fuel variations do you create, on average, before you reach one you’re happy to run in the Formula One car?
“On average, we may go through around 20 new fuel formulations before finding an acceptable performance improvement that we introduce to the car for racing. A clear demonstration of performance improvement on the dyno triggers the fuel upgrade to decide if we take it to the race track for use or not. It is a continuous development that doesn’t stop and this is our commitment to making Aston Martin Red Bull Racing-Honda even quicker out on track.”

How many upgrades are you planning this season and how early do you start preparing for next season?
“Typically, we target two to three fuel upgrades per season. We introduced a new Esso Synergy race fuel ahead of pre-season testing and it was in the RB15 for the opening race of the season in Australia. We’re working on new formulations with an aim of further introductions in the near future. The testing program for the 2020 campaign starts after the summer break, around the end of August. We will be working closely with Honda and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on next year’s challenger so we are best prepared for the season ahead.”