Toyota Malaysian Grand Prix Preview Following Panasonic Toyota Racing's historic Formula 1 debut in the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, in which Mika Salo finished sixth and earned one World Championship point, the team is now preparing for...
Toyota Malaysian Grand Prix Preview
Following Panasonic Toyota Racing's historic Formula 1 debut in the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, in which Mika Salo finished sixth and earned one World Championship point, the team is now preparing for Malaysia - round two of the 2002 Formula 1 season.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is held at Sepang International Circuit, a 30-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur. The race has been on the F1 calendar since 1999 and, unlike Melbourne, Panasonic Toyota Racing goes there with some prior knowledge. It conducted a four-day test at the 5.543-kilometre track last autumn, with both Mika and Allan McNish driving two TF101 test cars.
Since the excitement of Melbourne, the majority of the team has been getting acclimatised to Malaysian life. The team spent a day in Melbourne to prepare the three TF102 cars for the seven-hour flight to Malaysia before flying to Kuala Lumpur themselves for a well-earned break.
Mika and Allan also flew to Pangkor Island (Malaysia), where they spent 10 days at a training camp in preparation for the hot and humid conditions of Kuala Lumpur. For the drivers this is the most physically demanding race of the year, in which they can expect to lose more than three kilos of fluid.
"After such a tremendous result in Australia, we must not expect too much from this race in Malaysia. Everyone in the team did a great job in Melbourne, but we must not put too much pressure on ourselves in Malaysia. This is only our second race. Allan was very unlucky to be taken out at the first corner last time and my main aim at Sepang is to get both cars to the finish. That would be progress and it would help in our evolution as a team."
"I still look back at Australia and smile. The result took a couple of days to sink in, but it was a big deal for the team and me. As for Malaysia, it would be nice to finish the race again. The heat will put a lot of strain on the car and us, the drivers, so just getting to the chequered flag will be an achievement in itself. In the past two weeks we've done a lot of training in the heat, so I hope we'll be ready for it."
"While Melbourne was a great result for the team, it was very disappointing for me. Qualifying was disrupted by rain and I didn't make it beyond the first corner in the race. At Sepang I hope to get a proper weekend's running under my belt - a full qualifying session and a race distance. As for the heat, I know it will be hard but I think I've experienced similar conditions in sportscars. In those enclosed cockpits it can get very hot sometimes, so I'm sure I'll cope this time around."
Mika Salo's lap of Sepang:
"The thing that you notice most about Sepang is its width. The track is much wider than any other we visit and, as a result, you don't get an impression of speed from the cockpit. The track itself has a number of fast corners, particularly turns 5 and 12, which are quite testing and exciting. But, if it's overtaking you want, then look no further than the hairpin at Turn 15. We always get a good welcome in Malaysia from the fans and the facilities at the track are good, so I always look forward to going there."