As the 'hottest' round of the FIA Formula One World Championship approaches, Jaguar Racing drivers Mark Webber (26) and Antonio Pizzonia (22) have been undertaking acclimatisation exercises on the island of Langkawi, near Malaysia. The Malaysian...
As the 'hottest' round of the FIA Formula One World Championship approaches, Jaguar Racing drivers Mark Webber (26) and Antonio Pizzonia (22) have been undertaking acclimatisation exercises on the island of Langkawi, near Malaysia. The Malaysian Grand Prix is widely regarded as one of the most unforgiving races on the Formula One calendar when it comes to the demands of heat and humidity -- a challenge that faces both man and machine at Sepang.
Meanwhile, Jaguar Racing's preparations back at its Milton Keynes headquarters (UK) have been firmly focused on understanding the reasons behind the retirements of Mark and Antonio at last weekend's Australian Grand Prix. At the time, suspension failure was suspected as the reason behind both retirements but upon examination this week at the factory, the cause has actually been diagnosed to a component in the drive shaft. Corrective action has subsequently been taken and the team expects no further repeat of the problem which, in Mark's case, forced him to retire from fifth place as he was pulling away from eventual race winner David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes).
David Pitchforth, Managing Director:
"We were all naturally disappointed to have suffered a double retirement from the Australian Grand Prix but having now understood the problem and corrected it, we go to Malaysia optimistic given the encouraging pace we demonstrated last weekend. The new race weekend format makes it very hard to understand where we stand relative to our competition and even after Australia, there is still a significant degree of uncertainty amongst the teams. With different drivers running different fuel loads all weekend and then carrying these strategies into the race, it is hard to make like-for-like performance comparisons with anyone at this early stage of the season. What we do understand, however, is the potential of our package. Melbourne clearly showed us that the Jaguar R4 is a very responsive and well-balanced package and our aim going into Malaysia is to take full advantage of this."
"The nature of the circuit layout combined with the heat should bode well for tyre performance but until we take to the track for our two-hour testing session on Friday, we cannot be sure. The spare car will be set-up for Antonio this time and this should help ensure that he gets maximum track time on Friday -- something he missed out on in Melbourne last week. Mark has raced at Sepang before and will no doubt adapt very quickly to the demands of the circuit. We have conducted no on-track testing work between these two races, although an awful amount of development work continues at the factory, especially on additional chassis's which we will be introducing in the very near future."
"I left Melbourne with mixed emotions after my first race in Formula One. I was impressed by the way that the team went about its work and reasonably pleased with how much I had learnt over the weekend, although I could really have done with more track time prior to qualifying and the race. The spare car will be set-up for me in Malaysia next week and coupled with my race car, I will be aiming to generate as much mileage as possible during our Friday testing and Free Practice sessions."
"I have never been to Malaysia before, let alone raced there. The Sepang circuit looks very interesting indeed and should prove quite enjoyable, particularly some of the faster corners. The heat and humidity will no doubt play a key part in everyone's weekend but if truth be told, I'm looking forward to racing in these conditions because of my experiences of racing in Brazil where track surfaces have been known to melt! Having said that, the torrential downpours are as much a part of Malaysia as the baking sun -- as we saw a couple of years back at this race. Either way, I am really looking forward to this Grand Prix and in particular, to re-address the balance from Melbourne."
"Sepang is one of the newest circuits on the calendar and definitely one of the best. The track is one of a few that actually offers good overtaking opportunities. With the two hair pins and its longer than average straights there is usually much activity for us drivers as well as for the fans to watch. The long pit straight can see us reaching speeds of around 300kph, and this coupled with the fifteen assorted corners assures us an exciting and demanding race."
"Our strategy for this circuit will be devised over the course of the weekend. Antonio and I will be trying to complete as many laps as possible in the run-up to qualifying in an effort to find the optimum race tyre and optimum set-up for the car. The humidity during the race can be overwhelming, not just for me but for the car. With that in mind I know the team will be adopting extra measures to improve the efficiency of the cooling system on the car."