After the mixed outcome of the Australian Grand Prix, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team travels to Malaysia's Sepang circuit in bullish mood. Drawing on the experience of last season, the team failed to collect any points in the opening race, but qualified...
After the mixed outcome of the Australian Grand Prix, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team travels to Malaysia's Sepang circuit in bullish mood. Drawing on the experience of last season, the team failed to collect any points in the opening race, but qualified on the front two rows of the grid in Malaysia and Brazil, and is confident that the next two venues will favour the team. Tyre performance will undoubtedly be critical to the race outcome, although the humidity and potential for unexpected changes in local weather adds another unpredictable dimension to the youngest Grand Prix on the Formula One calendar.
Ralf Schumacher: "I have already moved on from the accident at Melbourne, and worrying about whose fault it was. I have determined this season to only look forward without worrying about what has happened in the past, because it is pointless. As a consequence, the pressure hasn't increased as far as I am concerned; a season is 17 races long and nothing can be decided at the start. What is much more important is that our car was very competitive in Melbourne even with the pretty low temperatures there. And in Sepang it is going to be much hotter and our Michelin tyre should provide a big advantage over our competitors. There will also be a couple of changes to the car, which make me really confident for the race."
Juan Pablo Montoya: "Great circuit, I really enjoyed it a lot last year, even if I was a bit disappointed at the end, because I could not finish the race. The Malaysian Grand Prix is going to be interesting for us and I believe the BMW WilliamsF1 Team package is going to perform pretty well there, and we are looking quite strong. The car should be fairly good and in hotter conditions the tyre should work a lot better than last week in Melbourne. Last year I qualified eleventh in Melbourne and sixth in Malaysia, so I really think we're going to show a lot more potential now. With regards to the physical conditions, it's going to be a very hard race for the drivers because of the hot and humid climate."
Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer): "We are expecting Malaysia to be a good deal hotter than Australia with high humidity levels as well. Kuala Lumpur is a challenging circuit with a lot of direction changes through medium to high speed corners. There are also three slow speed corners to deal with and four straight sections that reward engine power.
"Changing weather last year made for an exciting race and this will be on the cards again, prompting different strategies across the teams. Overtaking is possible in three places here to add another variable to the outcome.
"Michelin have been hard at work and are bringing a new series of tyres aimed at taking us another step forward. It will be interesting to judge where we are performance-wise with much hotter ground temperatures."
Gerhard Berger (BMW Motorsport Director): "The victory of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari in Melbourne wasn't a big surprise to me. I always said that Ferrari will be the benchmark this year. The situation reminds me of 2001 when Ferrari won the season's opening race and was under pressure two weeks later in Malaysia. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has undertaken some testing recently, including trying a range of modifications over race distances. I also expect that our package of chassis, engine and tyres will profit from the high temperatures at Sepang, and we will get close to the Ferraris. We should not read too much into the results in Melbourne, and for sure, there will be races this season when Ferrari are not dominant, and we should make the most of these opportunities to win."