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Mobil 1™ – Technology partner of McLaren-Honda

Mclaren-Honda Formula 1 car racing on the track

For more than 20 years and 300 championship races, the McLaren-Honda team has relied on Mobil 1™ motor oil to support their iconic race cars. As McLaren-Honda’s technology partner, the Mobil 1 team can be found trackside at every race, providing high-performance lubricants, race formulation fuel and technical engineering support. This legendary partnership has achieved:

  • 231 podiums
  • 78 victories
  • 76 poles
  • 21 first- and second-place sweeps
  • Four world championships

Scrutineering for seconds

Grand Prix racing is unforgiving. So the biggest advantages are gained whenever seconds can be shaved. The Mobil 1 team works with McLaren-Honda to identify those opportunities, always striving to command maximum outputs from the world-class race cars.

As Jonathan Neale, COO and acting CEO of McLaren Racing, explains, "Time is important to us. Lap time, obviously for the drivers in qualifying and in the race. But development time – for us to be able to improve the car and the product, short time to market, everything is kind of here and now."

Close up of gearbox with oil running through

The gearboxes that wouldn't quit

During the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were forced to retire from the Marina Bay race because the McLaren-Honda team feared their gearboxes had experienced catastrophic failure. Due to tire debris and leaves blocking the gearboxes’ oil cooler, temperatures climbed to punishing heights.

Alonso’s and Button’s gearboxes had actually suffered such extreme heat that the solder and aluminum components reflowed, eliminating their engineers’ ability to monitor the escalating temperatures. "When the gearbox operates at those sorts of extreme temperatures … the steels start to soften and the gearbox teeth start to break. You also start to see the internal bulkhead glue joints begin to fail, and the carbon starts to degrade and lose its structural properties," said Neale.

"But we have discovered that the gearbox casings had survived intact, despite experiencing temperature surges more than 45 percent higher than they’d been designed to sustain." The McLaren-Honda team then went back to the factory – inspecting the gearboxes and running them on the dynamometer – only to find out that the gearboxes had no functionality issues.

According to Neale, Mobil 1 lubricants deserved credit for this highly unexpected outcome. "When you take into account the loads inside an F1 gearbox and the fact that most of the time the oil is just a mist with the merest thin film on the shields, it’s a credit to Mobil’s technology. We really brought these gearboxes back from the dead – and that’s unbelievable."

See Mobil 1™ lubricant technology in action. McLaren-Honda’s gearboxes experienced unprecedented high temperatures at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, but Mobilube 1 SHC™ 75W-90 racing gear oil reduced friction, which protected the gears and prevented catastrophic failure.

An uncompromising approach to extremes

Formula 1® teams have been met with more and more challenges over the past decade, as sporting regulations have required further engineering advancements. Accustomed to employing 2.4 liter V-8 engines for several years, teams must now use 1.6 liter V-6 hybrid turbo engines with energy recovery systems and fuel flow restrictions.

A smaller engine means more heat and more pressure on internal engine components. Honda’s RA615H power unit sits beneath tightly packaged bodywork; such an aggressive design concept depends on the unique properties of Mobil 1™ advanced full synthetic motor oil to deliver exceptional performance and protection.

The V-6 engine can rev up to 15,000 rpm, the oil is exposed to temperatures of up to 572 degrees Fahrenheit and the gearbox withstands 3,000 gearshifts per race. Everything about the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 race car is extreme, and Mobil 1 technologists work alongside McLaren-Honda’s technicians and mechanics to ensure unrivaled results on the track.

Mclaren-Honda team preparing Formula 1 car for race

Before the champions go in, teamwork goes in

Grand Prix racing demands exhaustive involvement from all parties. From Mobil 1 to McLaren-Honda to drivers Alonso and Button, it’s a multidisciplinary team dedicated to gaining a competitive advantage.

As Honda F1 boss Yasuhisa Arai explains, "Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport that involves many different people with many different talents. It requires a team. It’s not down to one person or one item. It is the team members that give their all."

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