Being part of a team that has achieved six consecutive Formula One (F1) World Constructors’ Championship titles is in itself testament to Petronas’ ability to provide the right fluid solution to withstand the heat of motor racing.
“It only means that our products are superior!” quipped an elated Zahariah (Liza) Abdul Rahman during the final race of the 2019 F1 season at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the United Arab Emirates.
The Petronas group strategic communications senior general manager has been with the company for the past 31 years, including the time when the local oil and gas company decided to begin dabbling in motorsports.
“It all began with me getting a scholarship from them to study abroad in the US. After I came back, I was hoping to start working with them but that was during a recession.
“They couldn’t employ me at that time but I managed to secure a job at another company. Almost a year later, Petronas gave me a calI asking me if I’d like to join them and that was the beginning of it all.”
Soon, Liza will begin her fourth year of service in her current position and is very grateful to the company for having entered into the competitive world of motorsports. “Our past and present management (teams) need to be thanked for deciding on entering into motorsports 24 years ago and especially to go into collaboration with Mercedes later on, ” she added.
Petronas has been a fuel and lubricants sponsor in F1 since 1995, starting with the Ferrari-powered Red Bull Sauber Petronas F1 team. The deal ended when the team was purchased by BMW in 2005.
In December 2009, Petronas managed to ink a deal with then Mercedes-Benz Motorsports vice-president Norbert Haug for the newly created Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team which made its debut in 2010.
The team was later renamed Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and is currently based in Brackley, Britain, while using a German licence. From 2010 onwards, the team has been helmed by Austrian investor and former racing driver Torger Christian “Toto” Wolff as team principal and chief executive officer. “The teamwork, collaboration and leadership of Toto (Wolff) really helped to give us the edge.”
With regards to the 2019 F1 season, Liza added that the hard work and the right plans had paid off.
“All thanks goes to those behind the scenes including the researchers, chemical engineers and those at the office. They have helped the organisation reach where it is today.”
She also explained that their success factor encompasses first the Mercedes powertrain and then Petronas’ lineup of products which includes its Primax fuel, Syntium lubricants and Tutela range of driveline fluids.
The team’s 2019 F1 car uses a 1.6-litre Mercedes AMG F1 M10 EQ Power+ turbocharged hybrid engine that can redline at 15,000rpm and produces somewhere in the vicinity of 950hp to 1,000hp.
“We also have exceptional drivers. Without Lewis Hamilton and, we wouldn’t have gotten the points and subsequently the championship.”
Hamilton clinched his sixth Drivers’ World Championship title during the US Grand Prix with Bottas winning the race and, at the time of this writing, Hamilton managed to finish the Abu Dhabi
Grand Prix first with Bottas in fourth.
She said that the amount of effort was phenomenal in that at each race venue, there were many tasks that needed to be completed with regards to the analysis and testing of “failed” fuels and lubricants which needed to be sent back to researchers.
Liza subsequently explained that this current high state of cooperation was never in place at first and instead had to be forged over the years with Wolff.
“At one point, Wolff wrote to us saying that although the Mercedes engine was being pushed very hard, it just didn’t seem quite as good as the Ferraris.”
The Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 Team, based in Maranello, Italy, dates back to 1950 when the (F1) World Championship was first created and has long been used as a benchmark after having competed in every F1 season till now.
Of course, things were eventually ironed out, which has helped the Mercedes team secure its sixth consecutive World Constructors’ Championship.
The significance of a sixth world title for Mercedes means that it has managed to mirror Ferrari’s F1 dominance from 1999 to 2005 with Michael Schumacher.
“This year is a new benchmark for us. Will we be stopping at six? I certainly don’t think so. One thing’s for sure; we will continue to carry the Malaysian flag in the global arena and strive to be better.
“We will not be stopping there because we’re going to keep endeavouring to deliver our best to ensure that we provide high-performance products that are ultimately reliable and the amount of effort required will be tremendous but necessary.”
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