It’s time for round two of the 2015 Formula One World Championship, the Malaysia Grand Prix.
Two weeks ago, the new season kicked into gear with Lewis Hamilton picking up another victory for Mercedes. However out of the drivers competing, only 11 saw the chequered flag and now we move on to the most demanding race on the calendar.
The Malaysian Grand Prix first appeared on the Formula One calendar back in 1999 and ever since, the Sepang International Circuit has provided F1 fans with excitement. Mostly down the track providing the drivers with a challenge, yet plenty of chances to battle it out with their rivals around the 5.543km track.
In total the track utilises 15 corners, 10 of which are right handers. But the final corner of the track, turn 15, is a wide open hairpin, perfect for overtaking or setting your car up for the run down the pit straight.
The turn 15 hairpin also comes after the back straight. Around the same length as the pit straight and also with a DRS zone, the back straight provides a great place to gain ground on the car ahead. But the hairpin can lead drivers into a false sense of what’s next, as the car in front (or even behind) may chose to dart off into the pit lane.
One of the most demanding and challenging parts of the track also comes towards the end of the lap. The stretch of corners linking up turn 12 to 14 in the final sector will put any F1 car on the edge of traction, when the drivers attempt to enter flat out and carry the best line. But if you can hook these corners up well, your run down the back straight will be far better. However if it starts to rain, T12 will become even more challenging and just staying on the track can sometimes be deemed a success.
Rain in Kuala Lumpur is also nothing unusual, especially for the Malaysia GP, even though the humidity of the race makes it one of the most demanding on the calendar. Drivers can actually lose up to 4kg (9lb) of body weight just from the high humidity and temperatures that can reach in excess of 40C.
For this year’s Malaysia Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton returns to the track where he chalked up his first win of his title-winning 2014 season. However this year Hamilton hits Kuala Lumpur on the back of winning in Australia and taking the early advantage over his team mate and potential title rival, Nico Rosberg. The German will surely be looking for his first win of the season this weekend to prevent Lewis from romping away already. But Nico and Mercedes now know there will be no home race this year, after Hockenheim and Nurburgring fail to find the funding to keep the 2015 German Grand Prix on the calendar. Despite Mercedes offering to stump up the cash to cover half of the race’s losses.
Other drivers looking to chalk up their first wins of the season will be Ferrari’s duo Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen. Ferrari had a very strong outing in Australia with Seb managing a podium finish in his Scuderia debut. Kimi however was forced to retire.
Williams will also be looking for a strong result, with a podium position probably the best they can manage. Their chances of a podium finish will also look more likely if Valtteri Bottas is able to pass his fitness tests ahead of the race after missing the season opener with a back injury he picked up at the end of qualifying.
Fernando Alonso will also face fitness tests ahead of the race weekend following his crash at Barcelona during pre-season testing. Unlike Valtteri, Fernando missed out on competing in Australia during any session but McLaren will be hopeful their Spaniard is able to make his return.
This weekend’s Malaysia Grand Prix will commence at a fairly more pleasurable time for European audience, with an 8am (UK) green light on Sunday morning. For UK audiences, the race is also live on both SkySportsF1 and the BBC.
If you wish to watch the grid lay down the rubber from their hard (orange) and Medium (white) Pirelli tyres on SkySports, their coverage is as follows:
Wednesday March 25
21:00 – Classic F1 – 2012 Malaysia GP
Thursday March 26
07:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
Friday March 27
01:45 – Malaysia GP Practice One – Live
05:45 – Malaysia Practice Two – Live
08:00 – Team Principals’ Press Conference – Live
10:00 – The F1 Show – Live
12:00 – Malaysia GP Practice One – replay
14:05 – Malaysia GP Practice Two – replay
Saturday March 28
05:45 – Malaysia GP Practice Three – Live
08:00 – Malaysia GP Qualifying – Live
12:30 – Malaysia GP Qualifying – replay
15:15 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
Sunday March 29
06:30 – 2015 Malaysia GP – Track Parade – Live
07:00 – 2015 Malaysia GP – Race – Live
10:30 – 2015 Malaysia GP – Paddock Live
12:30 – 2015 Malaysia GP highlights
14:00 – 2015 Malaysia GP – replay
20:00 – 2015 Malaysia GP highlights
21:00 – Ted’s Race Notebook
As for the BBC, their coverage of the second round is as follows:
Thursday, 26 March
21:00 – Malaysia GP Preview – BBC Radio 5 live
Friday, 27 March
01:55 – FP1, BBC Two, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Red Button & live text commentary online
05:55 – FP2, BBC Two, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Red Button & live text commentary online
Saturday, 28 March
05:55 – FP3, BBC Two, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Red Button & live text commentary online
08:00 – Qualifying, BBC Two, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & live text commentary online
14:00 – Qualifying replay, BBC One
Sunday, 29 March
07:00 – Race, BBC One
07:30 – Race, BBC Radio 5 live & live text commentary online
10:30 – F1 Forum
14:00 – Race replay, BBC One
19:00 – Race highlights, BBC Three
Monday, 30 March
04:30 – Malaysian Grand Prix Review, BBC Radio 5 live