Malaysia welcomes Formula One this weekend for round two of the 2008 World Championship, hot off the heels of a thrilling start to the year in Melbourne last weekend. The season opener didn't fail to disappoint and delivered a well deserved maiden...
Malaysia welcomes Formula One this weekend for round two of the 2008 World Championship, hot off the heels of a thrilling start to the year in Melbourne last weekend. The season opener didn't fail to disappoint and delivered a well deserved maiden podium for Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima's first taste of a points-scoring finish in only his second race in the sport. The team will be looking to replicate the promising performance shown in Australia at the dramatic Sepang track and to reinforce its second position in the Constructors' standings.
Sepang is one of my favourite tracks on the calendar. We should be stronger there than we were in Melbourne as well, especially if we have the whole weekend to prepare properly, so we're looking for another good performance. Perhaps not a podium, but another solid points-scoring finish. We seem to have a car that isn't too tough on its tyres so, with the heat in Malaysia, that's a positive.
Physically, these races are really difficult, particularly for concentration, but that's why I worked so hard over the winter to be fit in these conditions. Every single minute of pain I felt during training played through my mind in Sunday's race! I'm going to Singapore with RBS this week to visit the new track there, then I'll have a couple of days to relax before making the trip to Malaysia.
Firstly, we had a really good result in the opening Grand Prix in Australia and that's motivated all of us. I'm going to have a ten place grid penalty for Malaysia so it's going to be difficult for me, but I'm just going to concentrate on my race and do the best I can.
Sepang is a really nice track, it's tough on the car and tyres, but we have a good chance and I have a good feeling. Like in Australia, temperatures will be extreme again, so it's going to be another hard weekend for everyone. I'll be heading to Malaysia straight away to get some training in and to make sure I'm as ready as I can be for the weekend. Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1 It is always hot and humid in Kuala Lumpur and the weather forecast says this year's race will be no different. With only a week between these two Grands Prix, we will be focusing on tidying up any reliability issues that we encountered in Melbourne before Friday's practice.
Although our qualifying performance in Australia wasn't bad, particularly considering the time we lost in practice and then the red and yellow flags during qualifying itself, it wasn't good enough and didn't meet our expectations. We are therefore heading to Malaysia with a view to improving that and to build upon our second place in the Constructors' Championship. It seems that the field is very close this year so any additional tenths that we can find will help significantly.
The track layout in Malaysia consists of mainly medium and high speed corners and enough straight lines to place a certain level of importance on engine power. With a two stop strategy typical, and a few overtaking opportunities around the lap, it should be an exciting race. If it's anything like Melbourne, then it will only be good news for Formula One.
A purpose-built facility, Sepang's 5.543km lap provides a blend of medium and high speed corners interspersed with several slow speed sections and blisteringly fast straights. Such a dynamic track poses a particular challenge for the drivers and their engineers as a quick lap depends on a car with a well balanced set-up for the complex mix of corners, plenty of power for the quick straights and sufficient cooling capabilities to counterbalance the extremes of temperature and powerful humidity.
With temperatures reaching 40C in Kuala Lumpur, climatic conditions can play a significant role in the outcome of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Coupled with the high humidity levels and the constant threat of heavy downpours, the drivers and their cars will be pushed to thermal limits. As temperatures soar so will the heat in the cockpit, and the driver's physical and mental fitness levels will be severely tested as they lose over a litre of fluid per hour in the race. Engines will also be strained as they are fired up for a second outing in Malaysia. Sepang is not regarded as a power circuit, with the time spent at full throttle relatively low, but containing oil temperatures in the extreme heat, while not compromising aerodynamic efficiency, will be imperative for their reliability.