Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

Preview the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix.

From one of the most demanding races on the calendar to another, Formula One flies south from Singapore to Malaysian for round 16. A race high with humidity and title hopes, but will Rosberg extend his stance or can Hamilton regain momentum.

Go back a year and the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix was round two on the calendar as the travelling circus of Formula One crept north from a Hamilton victory in Australia.

This year, though, the Malaysian Grand Prix has been pushed down the calendar to form a back-to-back with Singapore. A race won by Hamilton’s team-mate, as Rosberg snatched back the championship lead.

In Singapore, Hamilton struggled far more than his pole-sitting team-mate. And with brake issues, Lewis was fortunate that a late strategy change allowed him to end the day on the podium. Narrowly edging out Raikkonen for third.

Mercedes pit Hamilton during the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Mercedes pit Hamilton during the 2016 Singapore Grand Prix. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Should Hamilton regain any momentum to his title defence at the Sepang International Circuit, he will need to brake his recent run of poor starts to leave him in the best place for all 25-points.

In the last two outings, Lewis has left himself with a tough task at the start of each race. Having begun the Italian Grand Prix from pole, but exited the first chicane in sixth place. Then a fortnight on, Hamilton struggled in qualifying as he settled for third on the grid – qualifying 0.704 seconds down on Rosberg. This time, however, he maintained his position on the opening lap.

Lewis Hamilton, Italian GP Practice 2016. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

Lewis Hamilton, 2016 Italian GP Practice. Copyright: Mercedes AMG F1 Team.

The next race on the 2016 Calendar should come as comfort to Hamilton. As Rosberg has never finished higher than Hamilton at the Malaysian Grand Prix. A good thing for Lewis, with the two jousting for 2016 title glory.

That being said, team orders were needed in 2013 as Hamilton secured his first podium with Mercedes – despite Rosberg lapping quicker than the Briton in the final stint. At the flag, Nico crossed the line just half a second back from Lewis.

Hamilton leading Rosberg during the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Zhul.

Hamilton leading Rosberg during the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. Photo Credit: Zhul.

Ferrari’s early 2015 form allowed the Prancing Horse to stride out of Kuala Lumpur with Vettel celebrating his first victory in Ferrari red. After a race Mercedes struggled in as the high temperatures caused the Silver Arrows tyre woes.

The 2015 Singapore Grand Prix again saw Mercedes struggle with their tyres. But a year on, and another title double down the line, Mercedes went back to the Marina Bay and left with the win. So could they rebound in Malaysia?

More likely than not, yes – Mercedes will rebound. After all, their car is still superior to the Ferrari and Red Bull. Despite their rivals making progress.

But the aspects the Sepang International Circuit require will fall more favourably with Mercedes. Given their more rounded machine.

Sepang International Circuit guide. Copyright: Formula1.com.

Sepang International Circuit guide. Copyright: Formula1.com.

The long straights that make up the start and end of the circuit will particularly favour Mercedes, and Ferrari, over Red Bull. As the Renault unit powering the ‘Bulls still produces fewer horse power than their rivals. A worse deficit faces the Honda power unit used by McLaren.

In contrast, Ferrari are less suited than their rivals to the long, fast corners that make up turns 5, 12 and 13. As for turn two, traction out of the slow corner could be an issue for the Scuderia – as seen in the final corners of the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona earlier in the season.

Sepang International Circuit. Photo Credit: Nik Aizu.

Sepang International Circuit. Photo Credit: Nik Aizu.

This weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix will be broadcasted live in England on both SkySportsF1 and Channel 4. Times for both are as follows:

Wednesday, September 28
20:30 – F1 Report: Malaysia preview

Thursday, September 29
08:00 – Drivers’ Press Conference – Live
20:45 – Paddock Uncut
21:00 to 22:00 – Preview (BBC Radio 5 Live)

Friday, September 30
02:45 – Malaysia GP – Practice 1 – Live
02:55 – Malaysia GP – Practice 1 (Channel 4)
02:55 – Malaysia GP – Practice 1 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
06:45 – Malaysia GP – Practice 2 – Live
06:55 – Malaysia GP – Practice 2 (Channel 4)
06:55 – Malaysia GP – Practice 2 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
09:30 – Team Principals’ Press Conference
10:00 – The F1 Show

Saturday, October 1
06:45 – Malaysia GP – Practice 3 – Live
06:55 – Malaysia GP – Practice 3 (Channel 4)
06:55 – Malaysia GP – Practice 3 (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
09:00 – Malaysia GP – Qualifying build-up – Live
09:00 – Malaysia GP – Qualifying build-up – Live (Channel 4)
09:55 – Malaysia GP– Qualifying (BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra)
10:00 – Malaysia GP – Qualifying – Live
15:35 – Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
16:30 to 18:30 – Qualifying Replay

Sunday, October 2
06:30 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Track Parade – Live
07:00 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Pit Lane – Live
07:00 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Race Build Up (Channel 4)
07:30 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Race Build Up (BBC Radio 5 Live)
08:00 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Race – Live
10:30 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Paddock Live
13:30 – The 2016 Malaysia GP – Highlights
14:30 – Ted’s Race Notebook
16:50 to 19:30 – Race Replay

Times above are for SkySportsF1 unless stated.