Malaysian Grand Prix preview


The Malaysian Grand Prix has been in the F1 calendar since 1999. Sepang is one the most beautiful tracks imagined by Hermann Tilke (length=5,543 Km, laps=56, turns=5 at left and 10 at right, tyres=medium and hard). Ferrari has been very strong in Kuala-Lumpur since the first round where the Kaiser signed the pole position and Eddie Irvine won on race: 7 poles (5 for Michael Schumacher and 2 for Felipe Massa) and 6 wins (3 for Michael Schumacher, 1 for Eddie Irvine, 1 for Kimi Räikkönen and 1 for Fernando Alonso).

The Australian race was just a practice for Mercedes but they’re going to increase their level in Kuala-Lumpur. Both of Christian Horner and Bernie Ecclestone wanted the FIA to overthrow the Star’s reign but the rest of the paddock didn’t follow them. Red Bull can’t stand anymore its lack of energy and the F1 big boss is looking forward to making profitable his investment with the red knight. Ferrari has taken the advantage on Williams and they’ll push hard to reduce the gap with both Silver Arrows in Sepang. Their new strategy expert could help them more than the extra-classes suggested by Nico Rosberg. This childish provocation didn’t amuse Sebastian Vettel who rejected to play in this turkey. The rookies did a great start and they’ll have to confirm here. Lotus will try to cross the finish line contrary to they did fifteen days ago. Last week, Sauber finally got rid of its chakra with a bank cheque. Now, the Swiss team can focus on the season. They expect to score again. Both of Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas will be back but they won’t have the same goals. Sahara Force India, McLaren and Manor will be certainly together in the bottom of the grid. On Sunday, the respective mechanics of both of Kimi Räikkönen and Carlos Sainz Jr should prove that they have been learning the lesson from Melbourne.

Last year, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) signed the hat-trick: pole in 1’59’’431 (absolute record=1’33’’074 for Michael Schumacher with Ferrari in 2004), win and best time on race in 1’43’’066 (absolute record=1’34’’223 for Juan-Pablo Montoya with Williams in 2004). Mercedes had a doubled thanks to Nico Rosberg. Sebastian Vettel (RBR) was on the third step of the podium. Regarding Felipe Massa (Williams), the Brazilian was the quickest of the line-up (305 Km/h in qualifying and 324,5 Km/h on race).

Among the 2015 field, both of Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso dominate in KL (3 wins each). Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are the kings in qualifying (2 poles each). The Matador from Oviedo led in 2012 by having won eight positions on race (it’s the record of the best rise until the first place).

The grid was pretty empty in Melbourne (20 drivers but only 15 at the start and 11 at the end of the race). Not sure it will be much better in Sepang where the rain is expected this weekend. The FIA isn’t very comfortable in these conditions. It could be another huge mess like in 2009.

This is the schedule (local time: -7h in France) with all our thoughts for Jules Bianchi: On Friday, the first free practice will open at 10am (1h30). Then, there will be the FP2 at 2pm (1h30). On Saturday, the last FP of the weekend will take place at 2pm (1h). The qualifying tries will start at 5pm. On Sunday, the grand prix will be at 4pm.

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