What Kind Of Oil Do F1 Cars Use?

As with most things in Formula 1, the type of oil used in the engine of an F1 car is very different to the kind of oil you might put in your own car at home. The oil has more challenges to overcome than in a normal car, and therefore it must have very specific qualities. So, what kind of oil do F1 cars use?

F1 cars use different oils depending on the team. Each F1 team has their own oil and fuel supplier, such as Petronas for Mercedes and Mobil 1 for Red Bull, and they will supply the team with a top secret mix of chemicals to provide an oil that is fully optimized for that team’s car.

TeamOil Supplier
Red BullMobil 1
Alfa RomeoShell
Aston MartinPetronas
AlphaTauriMobil 1

Note: While customer teams might partner up with fuel and oil brands, they generally use the same supplier as their engine supplier, as that’s the brand the engine was built to work with.

This may not seem like a solid answer, and that is because it’s hard to pin the specifics down in such a secretive industry. However, we can take a look at what engine oil needs to do in an F1 car and discuss some of the partnerships between the teams.

The Important Qualities Of F1 Engine Oil

Eliminating Friction

Friction is the enemy of an F1 car in most cases. Although at the ground level the tires rely on friction to give them the grip that keeps the car stuck to the road, performing turns at break-neck speed, the rest of the car needs to run as smoothly as possible. This means that there needs to be as little friction as possible, which is achieved through the use of various lubricants.

Inside the car, specifically inside the engine, there is a need for liquid lubrication to keep the moving parts running without a hitch. The car may look fast, but inside things are moving much quicker.

The engine is made up of many different components, from pistons to shafts to various valves. There are a lot of moving parts to take into account. Each of these parts is usually very close to or working in conjunction with another, and they may move past each other hundreds of times every second. They need to be able to do so without rubbing against each other.

Ultra-High Temperatures

Friction doesn’t just slow things down, as it also generates heat, of which there is more than enough in a combustion engine! The temperatures are in the hundreds of degrees celsius, and so keeping it as low as possible is hindered by extra unnecessary friction. Enter engine oil, which allows for pistons to move rapidly without causing excessive wear to their casings.

Keeping Things Cool

The engine oil is used throughout the internals of the car, with its main role being lubrication, and a side role being cooling. It is sprayed onto various components during the combustion cycle to help drive heat away from the components and make everything run even more efficiently. Not only that, but the oil is also working under extremes of both temperature and pressure.

Keeping Things Clean

The oil also helps to keep the engine clean, by picking up any small bits of loose dirt and debris and carrying them towards the oil filter, where they are safely out of the way of the moving parts. Plus, by reducing friction, the forces required to move the parts inside the engine can be lower, and so the overall efficiency of the engine increases further.

With the challenging conditions inside the car, the engine oil needs to be up to the task. Your road car doesn’t put nearly as much strain on the oil as an F1 car, so what is done to make it so special?

The Oil Used In F1

Your car’s engine may produce RPMs of up to, say, 6,000 or 7,000, which is a lot of turning every minute. However, an F1 engine may turn at speeds of up to 15,000 RPM (although drivers will usually shift a few thousand revs below this limit). This is a massive increase, so it’s not hard to imagine how much more difficult it is to keep an engine and the relevant components working at more than twice the speed of your regular car.

Synthetic Oils

In order to keep all the parts moving at these high speeds without any problems, the oils need to be carefully created in very special – and secretive – ways, to help give teams the edge over their competition. Most oils are synthetic, but they are not the kinds of oil that you could go and buy at your local auto shop, as they are extremely advanced and very expensive.

During the creation process, there will be lots of chemical additives combined with the base oil to help give it extra performance capabilities. Some of these additives are used to lower the viscosity of the oil, in other words to make it thinner, which helps to enhance its heat resistance and makes it easier to move around inside the engine, boosting performance.


Other additives may give the oil a longer lifespan, as well as helping to reduce the wear of the various internal components. There are some that will help lower the freezing point, allowing for it to be used in colder conditions, as well as various detergents that help to keep the oil clean, making it that bit more efficient at keeping the engine clean as well.

The Importance Of Using The Right Oil

The engine oil used in any car has a similar purpose, but in an F1 car this purpose is even more important. Essentially, the oil needs to work on keeping a balance of temperatures within the internals of the car. If the engine gets too hot, there can be massively disastrous consequences for the driver and for the car itself if the engine is damaged beyond repair.

Dealing with such a range of temperatures means that the oil needs to be robust in order to not lose its own structural integrity in the process. It needs to maintain viscosity at the extremes of this temperature range, as if it changed or broke down it may cause irregularities within the engine, and oil leaks can end the race for a driver.

The importance of the oil doesn’t just lie in its ability to keep the engine running during a race, but it also needs to contribute to the longevity of the engine too. F1 teams can only use a certain number of engines throughout the season, and if they go over this limit, they face severe penalties. So, the oil needs to help protect the engine throughout the year.


• F1 teams use various different oils

• These oils help lubricate and cool the car’s internals

• They need to operate under extreme conditions during a race

F1 Oil Suppliers & Teams

Each team will have its own personal preference when it comes to oil suppliers, although most customer teams will use the same brand as their engine supplier. This allows for strong relationships to be created that in turn allow for very productive and effective solutions to the problems faced within the F1 car engines. Teams may be secretive about the constituents of their oils, but they are usually vocal about their partners.

Mercedes & Petronas

One of the most famous partnerships is between Mercedes and Petronas, a Malaysian producer of oils and fuels. They have worked together for years, and the brand is often part of the team’s full name as a title sponsor. This strong relationship between constructor and supplier helped the team win 8 Constructors’ Championships in a row from 2014-2021.

Ferrari & Shell

Another famous partnership is that of Scuderia Ferrari and Shell, a global powerhouse in the petrochemical industry. This partnership is one of the longest running in all of motorsport, having been in place since 1950 when F1 is said to have begun in the first place. Over the years, the engine oils produced by Shell for Ferrari have helped them win the most championships of any team.

Red Bull are partnered with Mobil 1, while Alpine get their oil from BP and Castrol. So, it is clear that there are many different suppliers in the game, and the names and relationships change on a regular basis, making it even harder to pin down what exactly goes into each oil.

Regulating F1 Oils

Unlike many parts of an F1 car, especially the engines, the oils used in the internals are not subject to that many regulations, so the teams have free rein to do what they want regarding this component (within reason of course). This usually means they work very closely with suppliers to provide an extremely specific blend of oil that is tailored to their car in order to boost performance as much as possible.

Because the oil needs to be tailored to the car, if the information about this oil were leaked to other teams, they would likely lose out on any advantages gained as other teams work to exploit this information or straight up copy it. That is why it is very difficult to find out exactly what oil is used in F1 cars, but there is plenty of information out there regarding who supplies each team.

Final Thoughts

F1 cars rely on many different components to keep them running smoothly during a 1.5+ hour race. One of these components is the engine oil, which serves several purposes aside from just reducing friction. It is subject to high temperatures and other harsh conditions, and this means that teams use their own specific formulas from their fuel and oil suppliers to get the absolute most out of their cars.