Guide To The Track The 5.543km Sepang International Circuit, 60km from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, was built at the same time as the nearby Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The track was the first of the new breed of super circuits to...
Guide To The Track
The 5.543km Sepang International Circuit, 60km from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, was built at the same time as the nearby Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The track was the first of the new breed of super circuits to be built by German architect and track designer Hermann Tilke. It formed the blueprint for subsequent new venues in Bahrain, Shanghai, Istanbul and Abu Dhabi.
Tilke's trademark is to incorporate a national symbol into his designs, usually in the buildings. 'The structure of the grandstand roof is like a banana leaf,' he explains. 'You can see one shot of it, and you know it's Malaysia.'
The first Malaysian GP was held in October 1999, as the penultimate round of the World Championship. The following year it was the final round, but from 2001 the race was switched to earlier in the season and paired with Australia. It has been the second round of the series ever since.
"Sepang is a very interesting track, for me one of the best circuits of the year. It's modern but it has a bit of character and I won here in 2006 so I have good memories.
"It's a nice circuit actually, with many different types of corners. There are a couple of slow corners, for example turns one and two and again in nine. Turns five and six are high speed, fifth gear corners and turn 11 is one of the most difficult braking points of the season -- when you brake, your front wheels are on the right hand side of the track so the front is locking but just at the end of the braking you've got oversteer. It's difficult to get right.
"Everyone says this is the toughest race of the season so it seems like a cliche, but it really is hard, both physically and mentally. It's hot and humid and the circuit is quite twisty, so physically it takes a lot out of you -- we sweat so much that at the end of the race I normally lose around three kilos of weight."
View From The Pit Wall
Chief Race Engineer
This 15-turn track contains a variety of corners, from a tight second gear hairpin leading on to the pit straight to two high-speed sweeping corners at turns five and six and a fast double-apex right hander. With such tricky combinations of corners, braking stability is key, although with understeer predominating in the long slower corners, getting a good balance can be difficult.
An evening race in Sepang is going to be about one thing, thunderstorms. As convective clouds build over the circuit during the day, the cooling conditions of the late afternoon trigger heavy downpours. For the qualifying and race sessions this could really mix things up.
The larger difference in grip between the slicks and wets in 2009 could mean a test for the drivers, something that Force India are confident Adrian and Giancarlo will revel in. The Sepang circuit is physically demanding because of heat and lateral forces. The track surface is now quite old and with the substrate not fully compacted bumps have increased over time.
For the engineers, the set-up here is one of the toughest of the season and with the soft tyre will be even more tricky.
Vintage Malaysia GP Moments
Eddie Irvine won the spectacular inaugural Malaysian GP in 1999, only for both Ferraris to be disqualified for having illegal bargeboards. The decision was later reversed, allowing Irvine to remain in contention for the World Championship going into the Suzuka finale.
-credit: force india