The second race of the season is always an exciting one – After the thrilling opening round, the pecking order can often be established and the title favourites can often begin to emerge. We have been forced to wait even longer for round two this season, as Australia and Malaysia were not back to back opening rounds for the first time since 2006. However, with a number of on-going story-lines prompting intense debate, the time has flown by. So, who is looking good heading to Malaysia and who is on for a rough ride at Sepang?
|Image Credit: Eriang87 (via Wikimedia Commons)|
- The Sepang International Circuit staged its first race in 1999, won by Ferrari’s Eddie Irvine.
- The circuit features 15 corners, (5 left handers and 10 right handers,) and is clockwise in direction.
- In 2009, the race was red flagged by the infamous Malaysian monsoons, with half points being awarded when a restart was not possible. Jenson Button won the race.
- Of the 15 races, 8 have been won from Pole Position
- Alex Yoong is the only Malaysian driver to take part in his home race. He competed with Minardi in 2002, yet failed to finish after a gearbox failure.
Rewind 12 Months…
Renault Braced For More Issues
However, this weekend will be the real test, not only for Renault, but for all the engine suppliers. With Malaysia typically being the most humid race of the season, the powertrains will suffer a real test – Bahrain was hot, yet the added humidity will cause increased headaches, (pardon the pun.) Taffin is evidently looking forward to this weekend, as it will demonstrate progress after their long and arduous winter.
“Sepang is one of the circuits whose technical requirements will change under the new regulations,” Taffin continued. “In the V8 era the circuit sat towards the middle of the table for the challenge it posed for engines but now it will be one of the toughest races of the year.”
Do we really expect anything else when Formula One visits Malaysia. The venue is notorious for the monsoon conditions which have frequently caused chaos in the past. Notable occasions include the freak storm in 2001, which caught a number of drivers out, including Ruberns Barrichello and eventual winner Michael Schumacher. In 2009, Jenson Button claimed one of the most bizarre victories ever, as the Brit claimed half points, after the race was red flagged and concluded prior to the 75% distance completed. While 2013 was a dry race, 2012 was another race that was red flagged due to an impromptu storm. However, it was soon back under-way, with Fernando Alonso taking a surprise victory.
While tomorrow should get under-way in dry conditions for FP1, heavy rain showers are expected for FP2. However, Saturday is meant to be an entirely wet affair, with rain anticipated for both FP3, with the heaviest rain predicted to fall in Qualifying. On Sunday, thunderstorms are anticipated in the morning, yet these are expected to clear by lights out. It wouldn’t be the Malaysian Grand Prix without a spot of precipitation, now would it.
Tributes to MH370
Malaysia has been a country heavily in the news of late, after the tragic disappearance of flight MH370. Teams will be paying tributes this weekend to the families who have suffered the most arduous of months. MH370 and the families effected will be in everyone’s thoughts this weekend.
After my successful race winner prediction in Australia, the pressure is on to make it two from two in 2014. However, with the tough conditions naturally adding a challenge in Malaysia, (and possibility of rain,) predicting a winner is yet again a difficult task. With Mercedes proving that their W05 is the ace in the pack, I predict a British win in the form of Lewis Hamilton. It could well be a second win for Nico Rosberg, but for the sake of the championship, a Hamilton win would be surly be welcomed. In what is likely to be a wet Qualifying session, Pole Position could go to anyone.