Formula One: Red Bull's Horner lauds fuel partner ExxonMobil for helping team stay cool when the heat is on

ExxonMobil motorsport technical advisor Sean Dunnett and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen during testing earlier this season.
ExxonMobil motorsport technical advisor Sean Dunnett and Red Bull driver Max Verstappen during testing earlier this season.PHOTO: EXXONMOBIL

MILTON KEYNES, England - Keeping cool under pressure is an essential ingredient for success during a Formula One race and Red Bull's recent victory was a testament to that in more ways than one.

Max Verstappen was ultimately rewarded for his daring passing move for the lead on Ferrari's Charles Leclerc with two laps to go but the "unsung hero" of the day was the RB15 car that proved perfectly suited for the sweltering conditions, team principal Christian Horner said on Tuesday.

He paid tribute to the team's fuel and lubricant partner ExxonMobil for the much-needed win at the Austrian GP, where the track temperature was measured at 56 deg C just 10 minutes before the start.

While their competitors Mercedes and Ferrari struggled with cooling issues, Horner said, the coolants supplied by ExxonMobil "dealt with the heat extremely well" and "played a key part in our victory and success over the weekend".

Red Bull's partnership with ExxonMobil began in 2017 and has proven to be a fruitful one.

Horner said: "In the current regulations we have, the hybrid engine era (introduced since 2014 by the International Automobile Federation), fuel and lubricants play a crucial role.

"While we are restricted to three power units a year, one major area open to development is within fuel and lubricant, and we've found significant performance in that area."


Among the state-of-the-art machines used at the Red Bull factory in Milton Keynes, England, are the autoclaves, oven-like machines are used to cure the individual carbon-fibre components, which are in a mould and vacuum-sealed. PHOTO: EXXONMOBIL

Singapore media, including The Straits Times, had visited Red Bull's sprawling base in Milton Keynes, England earlier this week. Organised by ExxonMobil, the trip offered a behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art factory - home to 800 staff - that designs and manufactures the race cars and provides comprehensive trackside engineering support throughout the season.

 
 
 

Such is the level of secrecy and security that guests like the media are not allowed to film or take photos - a Red Bull sticker is pasted over the phone lens at the start of the tour.

The facility, which occasionally resembles a science lab thanks to huge glass windows sectioning off the various departments and clean and uncluttered floors, has teams working on all aspects including electronics, 3D printing, metal and carbon-fibre manufacturing, race analytics while there is even a dedicated paint shop.

ExxonMobil provided three Esso fuel upgrades to Red Bull last season, noted the oil and gas giant's motorsport technical adviser Sean Dunnett, who is also embedded within the team.

During the second upgrade at last year's Hungarian GP, the team's engineers discovered the Esso fuel introduced gave a performance gain of more than a 10th of a second per lap.

Dunnett said: "We are looking at one or two Esso fuel upgrades this year. The goal is to help the team get faster and maximise the car's performance."

The decision by Red Bull to switch engine manufacturers from Renault to Honda has also allowed Dunnett and his team to focus their efforts.


An ExxonMobil engineer testing the Esso fuel of the Red Bull racing car. ExxonMobil has been partners with Red Bull since 2017. PHOTO: EXXONMOBIL

"Feedback from Renault was a lot slower. If we submitted 10 Esso fuel blends, they might take three to four months to get back to us, which delayed our development. But Honda is so driven in every aspect of engine development. We get feedback from them in weeks and this allows us to do tests faster and find the optimal fuel."

With 12 races left this season and an upcoming home race - next week's British GP is held at the Silverstone circuit, a 30-minute drive from Red Bull's Milton Keynes headquarters - Horner was in confident mood.

Describing his team, Honda and ExxonMobil as three sides of a triangle, he said: "Each is working very much in harmony and we're really starting to see results come together now.

"Silverstone is always a fantastic race for us. There's lots of local support.

"I'm hoping for a stinking hot race, just like in Austria. Those conditions worked quite well for us."