2016 Track Preview: Malaysian Grand Prix, Kuala Lumpur

malaysia_sepang_circuit

Nico Rosberg wins the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in second place and Lewis Hamilton in third place. Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Toro Rosso and Renault all managed to achieve points at the event also.

This weekend sees Jenson Button starting his 300th GP. This is a fantastic achievement and congratulations to Jenson on this epic milestone.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is maybe the toughest race of the season for the teams and also the drivers. The weather in Sepang is extremely hot and humid with some of the highest temperatures on the Formula 1 calendar, which makes it a rather physical track and therefore one of the most exhausting circuits. The combination of the track and the climate is also hard on the engines which are running almost 70 percent of the lap at full throttle.

Sepang International Circuit features 15 corners, ten of which are right-handers and the other five  corners being left-handers. The minimum track width is 16 meters. It is raced in a clockwise direction and is noted for its sweeping corners and wide straights. It has two long straights of nearly a kilometer each followed by tight, slow-speed corners, along with several extremely high-speed corners and the widest sections of track around. With its long straights and tight hairpins, there are plenty of overtaking possibilities; if you have the speed to do so.

The tropical climate means that it could rain at any minute, so that is always a bit unpredictable, particularly because when it rains in Malaysia, it really rains like the race in 2012!

For the engineers, the set-up here is one of the toughest of the season. In order to set up the chassis and suspension to cope with the varied nature of the circuit is a complex compromise for the teams and the drivers. The track requires a fairly high level of aerodynamic downforce and excellent car balance. Malaysia’s changeable weather and high temperatures can also result in tyre problems, which also affect the braking deceleration. Tyre management is very important in Malaysia and could affect the top ten finishers of the race.

Now here’s the facts, figures and my predictions heading into the Malaysian Grand Prix…

Facts and Figures

  • Sepang has hosted the Grand Prix since 1999, even though the Malaysia has a long racing tradition as a country.
  • Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver to win the Grand Prix with four wins
  • Ferrari are the most successful constructor to win the Grand Prix with seven wins
  • Race distance: 310.40 (192.76 miles)
  • Number of turns:15
  • Top speed: 300kph
  • Lap record: Juan Pablo Montoya- Williams (2004)- 1.34.223

Last five winners of the Malaysian Grand Prix:-

  • 2011-Sebastian Vettel
  • 2012-Fernando Alonso
  • 2013- Sebastian Vettel
  • 2014-Lewis Hamilton
  • 2015- Sebastian Vettel

My predictions for the top 5 finishers of the Malaysian Grand Prix:-

In no particular order, here’s my predictions on who the top five finishers of the Malaysian Grand Prix will be:-

  1. Lewis Hamilton
  2. Nico Rosberg
  3. Valtteri Bottas
  4. Sebastian Vettel
  5. Felipe Massa

With regards to my prediction, I believe that based on the performances we have seen in Singapore two weeks ago, the drivers I have selected have the best possible chance to finish in Malaysia. However, we could have a surprise if we get rain headed to the Sepang circuit and if that is the case; then I believe either Nico Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez could be in the top five.

All eyes will be upon Mercedes at the front who have shown in Singapore that they have a fast, consistent and reliable car once again and are the favourites heading into this weekend in Sepang. It is now up to williams, Ferrari, Sauber, Red Bull, Force India and Toro Rosso to improve and catch up to them and let’s hope that McLaren have made small improvements to Malaysia.

Sky Sports F1 are showing uninterrupted and live coverage of every Practice session, Qualifying and race this season and also Channel 4 are showing coverage. Details for both are as follows below:-

  • Sky Sports F1:- Friday (Practice 1 and 2) 2.45am and 6.45am, Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 6.45am and 9.00am, Sunday (Race) 6.30am
  • Channel Four:- Friday (Practice 2) 6.55am, Saturday (Practice 3 and Qualifying) 6.55am and 9.00am, Sunday (Race and Highlights) 7.00am and 4.50pm
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