Malaysian GP: McLaren preview

The 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship, takes place for the seventh time at the purpose-built Sepang circuit. The majority of the West McLaren Mercedes team remained in Melbourne after the season...

The 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship, takes place for the seventh time at the purpose-built Sepang circuit.

The majority of the West McLaren Mercedes team remained in Melbourne after the season opening Australian Grand Prix until Wednesday 9th March to prepare the four MP4-20 chassis for the journey to Kuala Lumpur.

Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya travelled to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively following the race to acclimatise for one of the most physically demanding event of the season.

Kimi Raikkonen:

"Sepang, a medium to high downforce circuit, is fairly technical in nature. You need for good traction on the exit of the slow corners, such as 14 and 15 towards the end of the lap, as it is important to carry speed onto the two long straights that follow to get a good lap time."

"Also, the car must be stable under braking and work well through the direction changes at high speed, such as those in sector two. Despite its overall flowing nature, the track is physically very demanding on both the drivers and the cars, for example we have a higher flow into the radiators to try and keep everything cool."

"The track is very wide, up to 15 metres in places, and has various camber changes. The extra width allows more than one racing line, which makes overtaking possible with turn 15 being probably the best chance."

Juan Pablo Montoya:

"The Sepang circuit is one of my favourite tracks, it is really fun to drive there and you usually see interesting races. Turns five and six are probably the most challenging and exciting to drive. You try to take this high speed S complex flat out and to achieve this, your car needs to be very well set-up."

"For the race, this sees a compromise between slow corner grip and high speed efficiency, as we have long periods of full throttle, with top speeds of up to 330km/h. For the drivers and team members it is important to acclimatise as the heat is enormous, for example temperatures in the cockpit can be over 50 degrees centigrade and we can lose up to four litres of fluid during the race."

"This is why I travelled to Singapore following the Australian Grand Prix, and I have been following a training and hydration programme with my trainer to get my body used to the conditions to ensure I can perform to my best all weekend."

Pedro de la Rosa, West McLaren Mercedes test driver:

"Following a busy weekend in Australia, where in addition to running the third car on Friday I spent the rest of the weekend working closely with the engineers, I returned to Spain to join Alex Wurz on the last day of the three day test session in Jerez."

Unfortunately we had to abort the test on the third day due to extreme weather conditions so that I wasn't able to drive. However, Alex completed 1,058 kms, with work focused on tyre evaluation for future races."

"The Sepang circuit has some similarities to Barcelona, where we have tested on two occasions in MP4-20 and worked on set-up and tyre selection for the Malaysian Grand Prix."

"Despite the much cooler ambient conditions in Spain, we have worked hard with Michelin using the information gathered from the tests using MP4-20 and advanced simulation techniques, and this process will continue in Sepang on Friday."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, West McLaren Mercedes:

"In Malaysia the intense heat has an overriding influence on the event, with track and ambient temperatures reaching up to 50 and over 35 degrees centigrade respectively during last years race. Ways in which we adapt for this include incorporating additional and larger air cooling intakes and exhaust vents, whilst ensuring these modifications do not significantly affect overall aerodynamic efficiency."

"We were pleased with the performance of our Michelins in Melbourne, and Sepang now provides a new challenge for the tyres and one we feel we have prepared well for in winter testing. We tend to use a softer compound to provide the required traction and grip on the smooth, low grip surface. At Sepang we also need to take into consideration tyre wear, which is traditionally fairly high, as a result of the high surface temperatures, hard acceleration and heavy braking points."

"Malaysia is of course as famed for unpredictable monsoons as the heat, so we are hoping there is no repeat of the wet weather conditions, which affected the outcome of our weekend at the Australian race. We need to improve on our performance and are looking to have a positive, solid race where we can hopefully reflect the pace we believe there is in MP4-20."

"I think everyone has had a lot to say about the new regulations, there were fairly extraordinary circumstances in Australia and I think we need to run a couple more races to get a full understanding of how they will operate."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The conditions at the Sepang circuit will be completely different from those experienced at Melbourne last week, as the Malaysian Grand Prix takes place in very hot and humid weather conditions. This year Sepang provides a new challenge for the engines as according to the new regulations we will have to run them for the second race weekend in succession. Roughly 60 percent of a lap will be run under full throttle."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren