HOT STUFF A taxing start to the 2006 Formula One world championship season continues this weekend as the 11 teams complete a swift dash from the sandy expanses of Bahrain to Sepang, Malaysia, where the latest V8 engines will have to complete the...
A taxing start to the 2006 Formula One world championship season continues this weekend as the 11 teams complete a swift dash from the sandy expanses of Bahrain to Sepang, Malaysia, where the latest V8 engines will have to complete the second part of their two-race cycle in searing heat and humidity.
Sepang has been ever-present on the F1 calendar since its inauguration in 1999 and this will be the eighth Malaysian Grand Prix. Michelin teams dominated 2005's corresponding event, when Fernando Alonso (Renault) spearheaded a clean sweep of the top six positions.
The emerging world champion's success was Michelin's third at Sepang in the space of four years: Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya swept to a one-two for Williams-BMW in 2002 and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes) notched up his maiden F1 success here the following season.
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:
"The second race of the season takes place in something of a Formula One hotspot. It will be a very demanding weekend for tyre manufacturers. Several long straights put quite a strain on rear tyres, but sustained ambient heat is the biggest factor."
"We have done a lot of preparatory work, though, and obtained encouraging results during a pre-season test in hot conditions at the Bahrain International Circuit, where we won last weekend's opening race. We expect things to be much warmer in Malaysia and will turn to slightly more rigid tyre constructions. Given our winning start to the season, I'm confident we will perform very strongly once again."
Gil de Ferran, sporting director, Honda Racing F1 Team:
"It is obviously quite tricky preparing for hot conditions during the cool of a European winter, but our pre-season test in Bahrain gave us some useful pointers. We anticipate that temperatures will be warmer in Malaysia than they were during last weekend's season-opener in Bahrain, but Michelin has proved it can be competitive in all conditions and we have worked well with its engineers to optimise tyres for every type of circuit."