Hi everyone… my name is Adrian Bell and I will be your guide this weekend to the Malaysian Grand Prix with MERCEDES GP PETRONAS. I am new to the team this season and my role is to look after the analysis of our fuel and lubricants, on behalf of PETRONAS.
Thursday, Race Week
PETRONAS, the Malaysian national oil company, is the team’s title partner and the supplier of our lubricants and fuels, essential for the protection and performance of the most vital parts of the car.
My day today started a little earlier than the rest of the team today, leaving the hotel at 7.30am for the 40 minute drive to the circuit, which is close to the KLIA airport but surrounded by lush green plantations. The temperature was relatively cool when I arrived and the paddock was quite peaceful with just Sandy, our security guy, here to bid me good morning before I started to work my way through the analysis of the fuel.
I take a sample from every drum of fuel to analyse with an instrument know as a Gas Chromatograph which is transported to all the races in a specially-built protective case which turns into my trackside laboratory. The fuel is strictly regulated by the FIA and the analysis is to make sure that the fuel is perfectly in specification to avoid any penalties.
As the day has gone on, the weather has got warmer and more humid, and the paddock has filled up. There is a gaggle of photographers waiting at the entrance to get the first shots of the drivers arriving. Nico was in the garage with his mechanics and engineers a short while ago to check that everything is progressing well with the car.
Today is also the first time that the cars are fired up and therefore we have to check the lubricants. These are analysed using a different, but equally well-travelled analyser, called a spectrometer and the lubricant is used as a diagnostic tool to tell us what is happening in the engine and gearbox by checking the levels of wear particles in the oil. This is very important as it can give us an insight into how the engine is standing up to the stresses and strains of the race weekend, and can give an early warning if a problem starts to develop.
It’s now getting towards the end of the afternoon, the analysis is complete and everything is in perfect order ready for the first ‘noisy day’ tomorrow. I will now pack my things away, tidy up and head back to the hotel to get ready for a trip into the city centre where a special visit to the PETRONAS Twin Towers has been arranged for me which should be a fantastic experience.