Malaysian GP: McLaren preview

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes arrive at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia leading the Constructors' Championship, following the team's double podium finish at the season opener in Australia. FOUR FAST FACTS Did the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team ...

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes arrive at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia leading the Constructors' Championship, following the team's double podium finish at the season opener in Australia.

FOUR FAST FACTS

Did the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team members return to Europe after the Melbourne race?

The majority of the team returned to Europe, including management, engineers, mechanics and marketing. However 28 members of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team travelled directly to Malaysia following the Australian Grand Prix for the test at the Sepang circuit. Two additional race team representatives returned to the UK before travelling out to Malaysia for the test. The rest of the team will begin leaving for the race on Sunday 1st April.

Where have Fernando, Lewis and Pedro spent their time in between Australia and Malaysia?

Fernando returned to Europe following the Australian Grand Prix, before flying out to Sepang on Monday 2nd April. Lewis flew to Bangkok from Melbourne and travelled to Koh Samui before arriving in Malaysia on Monday 26th March for the test. Lewis will move to Bali following today's final test session, before returning to KL next Wednesday, 4th April. Pedro also arrived in Malaysia on Sunday 25th March to join Lewis at the test. The Spaniard had travelled to the UK after the Australian race to continue working on the development programme with the team.

How does the team handle the extreme heat experienced in Sepang with regards the MP4-22?

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes incorporated a sufficient cooling package to the MP4-22 to allow for racing in hot climates. The team installs fans in the garages to keep the ambient temperatures as cool as possible.

Do the drivers have any specific physical preparation for the race?

Malaysia is a very tough race on a physical level, with the drivers facing incredible heat and humidity that can cause them to lose up to 3.5-4.0 litres of fluid. Fernando and Lewis are working in a cockpit environment that can be over 50 degrees centigrade, a situation where dehydration will occur. Dehydration is the greatest concern in extreme conditions, it effects concentration, balance control, reflexes and ultimately driving performance.

The drivers will prepare by increasing their fluid levels in anticipation of what they will need to drink in Malaysia. This allows the body to adapt to increased fluid intake. To hydrate a fluid rich in electrolytes is used, replacing any minerals and salts lost through the effort of performing in the intense heat. The same fluids are used at all track events, so are not alien to the drivers' systems. Re-hydration continues into the evening and throughout the entire weekend.

Time zone adaptation is a combination of the physical and the psychological. The body has to gently enter the new zone and at the same time attempt to pay little attention to the one left behind. A light exercise program, new sleeping and good nutrition programme is ideal to aid this process. The more prepared the driver is, the better equipped his body will be at coping with these stresses. It takes the body a number of days to get used to heat with the majority of adaptation occurring within the first three to four days.

On arrival in Malaysia, Fernando will spend some time playing tennis outside in the heat with his trainer, to work on acclimatisation, in addition to indoor cardiovascular exercise and light stretching. Following the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis travelled to Thailand where conditions are similar to Kuala Lumpur and began training in the heat, involving running and exercises outside.

Fernando Alonso:

"It was a solid start to the season in Australia. We knew we were not as quick as the Ferrari's so we had a good result in light of this. In the early part of the season it is important to keep scoring points and finishing on the podium as we push forward with our development programme."

"The nature of Sepang is quite technical, and the car needs to be really strong in every area. All the important corners tend to be high-speed, so you need a perfect car balance and good aerodynamics. Everyone within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has been pushing really hard since the Australian Grand Prix to try to close the gap."

"I have always gone well at Sepang, winning there in 2005 and finishing second there last year. So, my memories from the track are great, we will try hard to add to these this year! It is always a tough race physically, on the team as a whole and the cars, but we are prepared for that and after what has seemed to be a long gap after Melbourne, we all really want to get back to racing."

Lewis Hamilton:

"From what I had seen of the track before arriving for the test this week, I thought it looked like a great circuit and I was not disappointed. Its layout means you can build up a great rhythm, with all the corners running into each other. It is also really wide, which I imagine will lead to exciting racing."

"The four days of testing this week were really useful on two counts. We had a number of developments to the car that we ran and will now bring to the race, and I was able to learn the track prior to the event. I am now looking forward to competitive action here."

"As I said at the time, it was a dream start for me in Australia, but I am realistic that motorsport is unpredictable and things don't always go so well. We have all been working to reduce the gap to Ferrari and I will do my best with Fernando and the team towards this in Malaysia."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:

"To be entering the second Grand Prix of the season heading the Constructors' Championship is of course pleasing and a positive start, however we have to now take that performance and try to build on it. In addition to coming away from Australia with the two podium finishes, we were also able to learn more about the MP4-22 and how we can find the additional performance required."

"We have to work in a hard and focused manner to improve, but ensure we keep scoring well during the process. Fernando and Lewis both had great debuts with the team and we are working with them to keep this momentum that is in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team going."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"After the good start to the season with second and third places for Fernando and Lewis in Melbourne, we now look forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix. In particular, we like to remember Kimi Raikkonen's first victory with the team, which he clinched in Sepang in 2003."

"The team has prepared for the second Grand Prix of the year testing in Sepang from 27th to 30th March and we have worked on further improvements for our technical package. At the Sepang Circuit, conditions will be completely different from Melbourne. With ambient temperatures of about 40 degrees Celsius and very high humidity the entire package and the engines will face a big challenge, particularly because they will be raced for the second weekend."

"Under these difficult conditions, almost 70 percent of a lap will be run under full throttle. The race is always one of the toughest of the year and very demanding also for the drivers. At this time of the year, Malaysia has always been notorious for changing weather -- there is a good chance for a race feeling as though it is taking place in a sauna -- steam bath included."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Norbert Haug , Lewis Hamilton , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren