Malaysian GP: Michelin preview



This weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix will be the seventh since the country was first included on the F1 calendar in 1999. Michelin has participated in four of the previous six races and has cultivated an impressive track record.

In 2002, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pabllo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) scored Michelin’s first one-two finish since the company’s return to Formula One the year before. Fernando Alonso (Mild Seven RenaultF1/Michelin) became the sport’s youngest pole position winner at Sepang in 2003, when Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) netted his maiden grand prix win.

Last year, Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) and Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) finished second and third in Malaysia – it was the first podium finish of Button’s F1 career but he went on to add nine more before the end of the season.

Nestling close to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Sepang belongs to the latest generation of Formula One tracks and is one of the bedrocks of south-east Asia’s developing motorsport community.

Although it is not the first Malaysian circuit to have staged a major international race – the final round of the 1985 World Sports Car Championship took place in Shah Alam – it stands alone as the nation’s F1 host.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:

“Sepang is an interesting circuit from a technical point of view, because it has a mixture of quick, slow and medium corners, but the biggest challenge for a tyre manufacturer is the fierce heat. Even in a tropical rainstorm, the track temperature can reach more than 40 degrees."

“Although we did most of our pre-race groundwork in Europe, the lessons we learned during the first grand prix of the season in Australia have helped us to fine-tune our compound selections for this weekend."

“The season began well for us in Melbourne. Not only did we score a comfortable victory, with Giancarlo Fisichella and Renault, but the variable weather gave us an opportunity to showcase the effectiveness of our wet- and dry-weather tyres. There is every chance that we will need to demonstrate similar versatility in Sepang.”

Team perspective:
Mike Gascoyne, Technical director (chassis), Panasonic Toyota Racing

“Keeping rear tyres cool will be critical this weekend. That has always been a significant factor at Sepang, given the high track temperatures, but it will be particularly vital now that we have to make one set of tyres last a full race distance."

“It is always tricky selecting compounds for Malaysia, because the surface temperature is likely to be 40 to 50 degrees and we have to conduct the preparatory tyre tests during the European winter – which has been particularly cold this year. That presented an added complication, but we have a good understanding of Sepang’s characteristics – and so does Michelin.”


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