A year on from the multi 21 saga, Formula One moves north as it returns to the Sepang International Circuit for the 2014 Grand Prix. After a thrilling first race of the year and a two-week break will the teams that suffered a trickier first race have improved or will we see more of the same? Reliability will once again be a key aspect of the weekend.
Back in Australia there were seven retirements, 5 of which due to technical issues. During the opening few laps of the race, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were forced into an early retirement. This was despite the Brit being favourite to win the race after the pace and reliability that was shown by the Mercedes’ back during pre-season testing. Despite this retirement, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Mercedes team as fellow driver Nico Rosberg went on to win the race in dominant fashion. Now traveling almost 4,000 miles north, can the teams put their mechanical gremlins behind them?
If you haven’t already seen my review of the 2014 Australian Grand Prix make sure to check it out here.
Going back 12 months to the Malaysian Grand Prix of 2013 the headlines coming out of Sepang after the chequered flag dropped were not about the Red Bull’s one-two finish but of how them positions came about. The Multi-21 saga came around as Vettel ignored team orders not to pass ex-teammate Mark Webber. As Webber proceeded onwards towards the end of the race, he led Vettel and both were told to maintain positions.
“After the last stop the team told me the race was over and we turned the engine down to go to the end,” said Webber.
Yet despite the orders from the team, Vettel took it into his own hands to determine the result and went on to overtake Mark for the lead of the race. Many believe this was the pivotal moment that caused Webber to end his Formula One career at the end of the season and take up a drive with Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
This was not the only team order row that we saw in Malaysia as Mercedes also chose to enforce team orders on their drivers so that Hamilton would be able to claim a 3rd place finish ahead of Rosberg. Nico strongly believed he had a chance to challenge the Red Bulls if he was able to get past Lewis but, unlike Vettel, Rosberg obeyed the orders and had to settle for a fourth place finish.
Now a year on, could Nico Rosberg get the greatest justice for the team orders by winning back-to-back races? Well, he will be confident of continuing his form and be confident in the car providing him with the same race winning pace shown in Australia.
The weather throw up some variations to the result during qualifying for the Australian GP as rain fell over Melbourne and the teams should be expecting more rain during the Malaysian GP qualifying and possibly the race. This is because the race always has the threat of going from glorious sunshine to a monsoon in a moment. To me this is one of the best aspects of this race as the unpredictable weather can provide the race with a splash of action at any point, giving the teams the need for split second strategy calls, as they don’t want to let their driver stay out for too long if they need wet tyres, or come in too early if the car can stay on track even on dry tyres. This situation was shown back in 2012 when the Sauber of Sergio Perez was breathing down the neck of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and both needed to pit due to the changing track condition but Perez stayed out one lap too many.
Talking of tyres, for this year’s race, Pirelli will be bringing along the medium compound tyres, with the white markings, and the hard compound tyres, that have the orange markings on the tyres walls.
Unlike the Australian Grand Prix, which was exclusively live on Sky Sports F1. The Malaysian Grand Prix will be live in England on both, the BBC and SkyF1.
For Sky, their TV times are:
Thursday 27th March
7:00am – Drivers’ Press Conference
The MalaysianGP FIA drivers press conference will feature Valtteri Bottas, Kamui Kobayashi, Daniil Kvyat, Pastor Maldonado, Kimi Raikkonen & Nico Rosberg.
Friday 28th March
1:45am – Malaysian GP Practice One
5:45am – Malaysian GP Practice Two
8:00am – Team Principals’ Press Conference
10:00am – The F1 Show
11:00am – Malaysian GP Practice One replay
1:05pm – Malaysian GP Practice Two replay
Saturday 29th March
4:45am – Malaysian GP Practice Three
7:00am – Malaysian GP Qualifying
10:45am – Malaysian GP Qualifying replay
5:15pm – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday 30th March
7:30am – Malaysian GP – Track Parade
8:00am – Malaysian GP – Race
11:30am – Malaysian GP – Paddock Live
And for the BBC, their TV times are:
Friday 28th March
1:55am – Malaysian GP Practice One – BBC2 and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
5:55am – Malaysian GP Practice Two – BBC2 and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
Saturday 29th March
4:55am – Malaysian GP Practice Three – BBC2 and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
7:00am – Malaysian GP Qualifying – BBC One
7:55am – Malaysian GP Qualifying – BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
Sunday 30th March
8:00am – Malaysian GP Race – BBC One
8:30am – Malaysian GP Race – BBC Radio 5 live sports extra
11:15am – Malaysian GP F1 Forum – BBC Red Button
Hopefully you are all looking forward to the second race of the season. Now let me hear who you think will win the race come Sunday. For me I feel it will be another win for Mercedes but I can’t call who will have the edge over the two Merc drivers.