The 2014 Formula 1® Malaysian Grand Prix
Round 2 of 19
Sepang F1 Circuit, Kuala Lumpur
Qualifying • 1900 Saturday March 29 (times given are AEDT)
Race start • 1900 Sunday March 30
McLaren: six victories in 15 races here
Michael Schumacher: three Sepang victories 2000, 2001, 2004
Best of the 2014 drivers: Sebastian Vettel, three wins here 2010, 2011, 2013
1:34.223 = 211.782 km/h • Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams BMW) 2004
March 24, 2013 – there have been many memorable Malaysian moments but this was the daddy of them all. ‘Multi 21’ became the sport’s most famous coded message when Sebastian Vettel ignored it, took the lead from Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and won the race – in the wrong order.
October 17, 1999 – a Ferrari 1-2, with Eddie Irvine leading Michael Schumacher home, puts the Irishman in the box seat for the world title – until the stewards disqualify both scarlet cars for a bargeboard infringement. An FIA Appeal Court overturns the decision days later.
March 23, 2003 – Fernando Alonso is the sport’s youngest pole-winner for Renault, but Kimi Raikkonen comes through from seventh on the grid to win for McLaren – the youngest winner since the great Bruce McLaren himself.
Man of the Moment
Nico Rosberg, elated by his splendid victory in Melbourne and confident in the qualities of his latest Silver Arrow: “Australia was the perfect start to my season,” the Mercedes man says, “but it also highlighted that we’re not 100% there yet in terms of reliability.” This is where Rosberg scored his first podium for the German team in 2010 behind Red Bull’s Vettel and Webber: look for a repeat, maybe on a higher step, this year.
Reliability: while more cars made it to the finish than we feared in Melbourne, the new ‘power units’ continue to exercise the minds of the technical geniuses. Red Bull need to get their challenge back on track, so to speak, after Vettel’s early Melbourne retirement and the exclusion (appeal pending) of Ricciardo.
Downforce: almost every driver has used the D-word in talking about 2014 and the changes from the 2013 cars. Jenson Button, for example: “Sepang is a great driver’s circuit, and even if we don’t have the overall downforce we want, we should have the balance and driveability to make the car work.” And Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez: “It is a smooth track, and less bumpy. It can give us a better feeling when braking, which is where we were struggling quite a lot during the whole weekend in Melbourne. The track has several high speed corners where we will be able to evaluate our downforce and see what the balance of the car is like.”
The climate: as Lotus driver Romain Grosjean puts it, “The first challenge in Malaysia will be the heat, humidity and usual rain storms at 4pm!” With temperatures in the cockpit soaring above 50 degrees, the drivers lose 3 kilos in sweat around Sepang’s testing 5.5 kilometres. The rain (remember the deluge in 2009?) could challenge driving skills in the torque new cars with reduced grip.
Quote of the week
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg looks into the crystal ball:
“This year we'll see bigger jumps and changes in the pecking order during the season. There are still some teams that need to sort out their issues and they will probably become stronger. All teams, including us, will have room for improvement and development is going to be very fast.”
Don’t quote us
Hamilton to hit back hard after his Albert Park frustration… Hard work for McLaren to match their 2-3 finish in Melbourne… Ricciardo to rock again in response to his deflation after a fine start for Red Bull in Oz.