Why do Oil Companies Participate in Motorsports?

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Rafe sits down with Tomek Young – Global Motorsports Manager at ExxonMobil to discuss all things regarding the relationship between oil companies and motorport teams.

Rafe Britton: I guess one of the questions that a lot of people might have is what exactly are oil companies doing in motor sports?

If we slap a Mobil sticker on the side of a car, I would argue that most motor sport fans are well aware of who Mobil are, so you preaching to the converted. So what exactly is the relationship that, Mobil has with race teams and what’s the nature of the sponsorship and all that kind of stuff.

Tomek Young: Wow. This is quite a question. And definitely there’s this element of brand recognition that you’d try to gain through sponsorships and through partnerships that we develop. But maybe one, one thing that I should touch on immediately, as the technology guy, we are in it for technical reasons, right?

So the technical arm of Exxon Mobil, which is our research and engineering company is in modern sports supports motor sports to advance the science technology, to develop molecules and compositions that give the user an advantage. And in this particular case, it would be a racing team or a racing enthusiast that’s getting this advantage, but this type of work extends to other areas in which we work.

Rafe Britton: So is it fair to say, it’s It’s almost like an excuse to do R&D? 

Tomek Young: I know what you mean, but not entirely. Okay. If you look at, if you look at lubricants development, these tend to be long-term projects. Yeah. Even in technology areas, which are moving quickly, such as a passenger vehicles where you’re dealing with specification changes, we can argue relatively often still development programs take several years.

If you look at GF-6, you have GF-6 plus you know that the recent ones, it took every company and additive suppliers multiple years to develop. In motor sports, the tech, the technology is moving at a much faster pace, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so exciting for us. We can test things we can iterate quicker.

Second aspect that I would immediately touch on is the fact that being in that car, being in the motorcycle, It’s not a given the fact that you’re a sponsor doesn’t even automatically make it possible. You need to give the team an advantage. And this is like this ultimate benchmarking opportunity, ultimate proven opportunity where they’re going to be placed in that engine, in the differential, in the bearing in the chassis element.

Only if your product is better than what this currently, what was used or what is currently used. So this gives us, this gives our chemists, our engineers, an opportunity to benchmark ourselves against some of the best. This gives us an opportunity. Also, once we are in that car, in year one, next season there’s an expectation of an improvement and this improvement needs to be measurable in some dimension.

Usually it’s power that we talk about. It could be also durability could be in a higher temperature running, et cetera. We need to improve that product again. So if you think about it at a minimum, you have an improvement for each product that, that we have every year. So technology, the development process, it’s shorter and we iterate faster.

We tend to get the results much quicker and then we try to extend the technology to other areas.