Malaysia hosts round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship this weekend as the teams travel to Asia for the second of the three long haul races of the season on Sunday 8th April. This year's race will be the ninth time the state-of-the-art Sepang circuit, located just south of the country's capital, Kuala Lumpur, has featured on the Grand Prix calendar.
For the first time, the teams were able to test at the Sepang track prior to the race which afforded the AT&T Williams team additional time to work on car set-up and reliability. Combined with the opportunity to acclimatise early to such extreme conditions, the team are looking forward to build on its solid start to the 2007 campaign.
"I have good memories of Malaysia from last year when I made my debut on the Sepang track. It is a good circuit from a driver's perspective; the layout has a bit of everything, with plenty of fast and slow corners. The surface is quite bumpy which also gives it an extra dimension. The most challenging aspect of the Malaysian Grand Prix is obviously the heat and humidity. I'm well prepared though, as is the team, and we're looking forward to having a good race this weekend."
"Malaysia is a very cool race track. It has quite a difficult corner section, which I've always enjoyed ever since I first drove on this track. It is very challenging to get the set-up right for it though, but the toughest part of the race will be the heat for the majority of the drivers. This is the race where a disciplined training programme really pays off."
"In last week's test, I covered over 200 laps in two days which was a good test for me and for the reliability of the car in such extreme conditions. The race simulation we did also went very well. We won't see the true performance of the teams until the race weekend, but I'm sure it's going to be another super close Grand Prix."
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1:
"Kuala Lumpur is all about high levels of rainfall, humidity and temperatures! It is so tropical and the daily thunderstorms upset the normally routine practice sessions. As we tested there last week, a lot of the data and sign-offs that the engineers normally have to rush through during the practice sessions are already done."
"Brakes, cooling and tyres have all been measured and we now have a good direction for the race. As such, we will be able to spend most of practice working on car set-up and re-checking the balance on the two Bridgestone Potenza tyre compounds because the circuit's grip levels will vary from the test."
"The Sepang circuit is dominated by medium and high speed corners, but does have three slow speed corners as well. Add to that three decent straights which reward engine power and low drag, this circuit has a good balance for drivers and engineers to work with."
"There are overtaking opportunities into the first, third and last corners that will undoubtedly contribute to an exciting race. Pitstop strategy will most likely be a standard two stop affair. The track layout is hard on tyres so the degradation levels don't normally permit a one stopper, and the pitlane is too slow for a three stop race."
"After the first race in Melbourne, the initial picture of where the true team order lies is starting to form, but it will take another few races to settle, and can obviously change over the season if one team makes a much bigger gain than another. At the test last week, we worked hard on set-up and getting more performance out of the FW29. We made some progress, but the real measure will be how we fare over the race weekend."