Sepang, the purpose-built facility in Kuala Lumpur bills itself as the most highly advanced racetrack in the world. The ultra smooth racing surface, provided by Shell research and the highly sophisticated paddock and pits complex gives the teams a...
Sepang, the purpose-built facility in Kuala Lumpur bills itself as the most highly advanced racetrack in the world. The ultra smooth racing surface, provided by Shell research and the highly sophisticated paddock and pits complex gives the teams a clean, well-organized environment in which to work.
As a racing circuit, the track has been found lacking in pure excitement and its critics panned the design at first, but the four races held at the track so far, have played host to some of the finest Formula One battles in recent years. In 1999, Michael Schumacher, having recovered from a broken leg, gave a consummate display of driving to help teammate Eddie Irvine win the race.Last year, alongside Rubens Barrichello, the Ferrari drivers made the most of appalling weather conditions to finish one-two, leaving the opposition standing.
The circuit has 15 separate corners, squeezed into the five and a half kilometers of track and as such asks the most of drivers and their machines in the sweltering Malaysian humidity.
Shell and Ferrari will face the same problem as they did last year in the run up to the race with the difficult decision regarding the optimum set-up for the cars. With the circuit presenting the opportunity for the car to run flat-out down the twin straights there must be enough aerodynamic downforce for the car to be able to cope with the frequent tight corners. The straight-line speed cannot be sacrificed altogether for the stability in the corners. Although Michael and Rubens know the quick way around Sepang, they will have to rely on the help of the very strong and professional team behind them, not least Shell.
Shell Global Motorsport Business Manager, David Barnes is very aware of the challenges that the Ferrari team will face in Malaysia, and believes that Shell's expert advice and experience is crucial in helping Ferrari develop their race strategy. "Malaysia is a particularly difficult race because of the heat and humidity. We must understand the effect of the ambient temperatures on fuel consumption. Due to the heat in Kuala Lumpur, the air is less dense, resulting in the cars producing less power and therefore we need to ensure that the fuel and oil systems can cope with extreme conditions and optimize the car's performance."
Given Michael's excellent track record at Sepang and the proven reliability between the Shell and Ferrari partnership, the team seems well placed for another successful weekend in Kuala Lumpur.
With victory in Australia still fresh in their minds, Ferrari and Shell have started the 2002 season in the best possible way, and currently lead both the Drivers' and Constructors' World Championships. Given Michael Schumacher's excellent record at Sepang and the car's proven reliability, the team seems well-placed for another successful weekend.