Following a short break after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, the Honda Racing F1 Team arrived in Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of this week to begin preparations for Round Two of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship, the...
Following a short break after the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, the Honda Racing F1 Team arrived in Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of this week to begin preparations for Round Two of the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.
The first official F1 test was held at the Sepang International Circuit this week as the Honda team continued the development programme for the RA107 race car in the hot and humid conditions which make Malaysia one of the toughest and most physically demanding stops on the F1 calendar.
Shuhei Nakamoto - Senior Technical Director:
"At the Sepang test this week we focused our efforts on evaluating the aerodynamic developments for the RA107 alongside work on braking stability and general mechanical set-up. Although we were unable to realise our potential in Australia, we are confident that the RA107 is fundamentally a good car and expect to be able to make good technical progress with it in a wide range of areas. We will use the next few races to improve to a more competitive level."
"The Malaysian Grand Prix is a race which has great significance and memories for me as I scored my first F1 podium here back in 2004. The Sepang circuit is a very tough track and the race weekend is hard work for everyone, not just the drivers behind the wheel, but for the team and the car as well. The intense heat inevitably focuses our technical concerns on cooling, particularly as we run for almost seventy per cent of the lap at full throttle."
"The humidity is physically very wearing and you have to spend your time balancing the need to keep cool with the need to be physically prepared to deal with the heat during the race. In the build-up to the weekend, I'll be training outside as much as possible to acclimatise and spending last week here for the test has also helped with that process.
"Sepang has some great opportunities for overtaking. Turn one is a good chance, along with the right hander at Langkawi and the left hander at Berjaya Tioman. For a really quick lap, you need a car which is aerodynamically sound but with the least drag possible. Too much front end grip will lose you a lot of time in turns five and six."
Rubens Barrichello on the Sepang International Circuit:
"The Sepang International Circuit is one that the drivers really enjoy. When you go past your pit board on the start / finish straight, you are at 250kph and about to reach 300kph before the braking zone at the end of the straight. Turn one is a very slow corner taken in first or second gear depending on your gear ratios. You will see plenty of action here in the race because it is a very wide track but quite tight for the racing line so the drivers go all over the track trying to overtake."
"Turn one leads into another tight left-hand corner taken in second gear, power down and then a long right-hander at turn three which is about two and a half Gs. When you come out of turn three, it is flat up through the gears to seventh reaching around 270kph before the next braking zone into the right-handed turn four, taken in second or third gear depending on the ratios. It's not a difficult corner although braking can be tricky because of the bumps."
"Out of there and you're into a lovely left and right at turns five and six which are done very quickly in fifth gear. It's really demanding around this section as the Gs force your neck from one side to the other. We used to be almost flat through here but perhaps not this year with the different spec tyres."
"You then have a small straight before the two apex corners at turns seven and eight. You have to come in quite fast, wide and then tight and an understeering car could cause you some problems. Then you're onto the first back straight going into the hairpin at turn nine in first gear."
"It's important to have good traction out of here as it goes straightaway to the right and turn ten which is not really a big corner but leads you into turn eleven, another right-hander taken in third gear at around 130kph. Then another straight and a fast left-hander at turn twelve taken flat out in sixth gear at 250kph."
"Turn thirteen leads you into the tight turn fourteen and onto the long back straight, a good place for overtaking. The final corner at turn fifteen is another overtaking opportunity, a second gear corner which brings you onto the start / finish straight and over the line for the end of your lap."