After the start of the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, Team Sauber Petronas heads to its 'home' race in Sepang, Malaysia on Sunday 20 March. Naturally this is a very special race for the team and for its Malaysian partner ...
After the start of the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship in Melbourne, Team Sauber Petronas heads to its 'home' race in Sepang, Malaysia on Sunday 20 March. Naturally this is a very special race for the team and for its Malaysian partner Petronas, and drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Felipe Massa are participating in a significant programme of publicity events in the preceding week.
Willy Rampf (Technical Director):
"Sepang requires the maximum downforce we can muster under the new regulations. However, because of the high ambient temperatures, adequate cooling is also essential to ensure reliability. This will be particularly critical because under the new rules this will be the second race weekend for the Petronas engines that we ran in Australia."
"The track characteristic is a good mix of slow-speed corners where traction is crucial, and high-speed sweeps that require high stability. So the challenge for the engineers is to find the right compromise."
"The surface has a medium grip level and is quite abrasive, and together with the high track temperatures that adds up to the toughest test of the tyres as we may only use one set for qualifying and the race. A careful choice from the two Michelin specifications will therefore be of particular importance on Friday."
Jacques Villeneuve (134 GPs):
"Sepang is a good circuit but it's very difficult. It's got a lot of interesting corners, both high-speed and low-speed, and it's quite a long lap. Malaysia is also very, very hard physically. This is the first hot race of the year and all of the winter testing is usually done in relatively low temperatures, so it's quite a shock to the body. It is also hard on the car, and cooling the engine and brakes is even more critical. Sepang is always a difficult race."
"Unfortunately I am allergic to spicy food so there are a lot of things I can't eat, but I'm really looking forward to the opportunity we have to spend more time in Kuala Lumpur in the week before the race. It's a nice chance because normally at an event we spend most of our time at the race track and only get to go out and look around a place on the Sunday night."
Felipe Massa (35 GPs):
"I love the Sepang track. There are a lot of fast, flowing corners where you can get a really good rhythm, and there are a lot of opportunities for passing, especially if you get a good tow down the two long straights. I think we could see a lot of overtaking this year, and the change in downforce rules will help."
"Turns 9 and 11 are tricky because they require lateral braking on entry which demands that you set up the car very carefully so that you have the necessary stability. You have to work a lot on the electronics for the engine braking and the differential."
"Sepang is also very tough physically because of the humidity. You sweat an awful lot and can lose 2 to 2.5 kg over a race distance. That's going to be made even tougher this year on the mental side by the need to look after your tyres, especially during the closing laps."
Petronas promotion programme prior to the Grand Prix
Jacques Villeneuve, Felipe Massa and Team Principal Peter Sauber will attend promotional activities in conjunction with Petronas' 10th year in Formula One. The programme starts on Saturday, 12 March, in Kuala Lumpur and comprises the following main events:
Saturday, 12 March, The Esplanade at the KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
*Ceremony to commemorate Petronas' 10th year in Formula One. The ceremony will be officiated by the Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Hj Ahmad Badawi.
Sunday, 13 March, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
*Petronas Formula One driving and pit stop demonstration.
*Children from Klang Valley will be invited to see the demo and have the privilege of visiting the demo's pit stop and garage. They will also visit the Petrosains & F1 Exhibition with the drivers.
Monday, 14 March, KLCC Park, Kuala Lumpur
*Students from Klang Valley and the Universiti Teknologi Petronas will participate with the drivers in games.
Tuesday, 15 March, Karyaneka, Kuala Lumpur
*Children of Petronas staff will participate in traditional games with the drivers.
Wednesday, 16 March, KLCC, Kuala Lumpur
*The team will attend the presentation of the 2005 Petronas Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix's Grid Girls' costumes at Suria KLCC shopping centre.
*In the afternoon there will be an autograph session at the Suria KLCC shopping centre.