The first Hermann Tilke-built Formula One track hosts its 14th Malaysian Grand Prix this year, and it’s endeared itself to the teams and drivers over that period. It has several quick corners, particularly turns 5 and 6, and a couple of long straights and the high ambient temperatures make it a real test of man and machine. Efficient downforce is vital at this track, so expect the best cars to stretch their legs at the front.
Mark Gillan: Chief Operations Engineer: The whole team are really buzzing after the good pace shown in both qualifying and in the race in Melbourne. We are now eager to capitalise on this performance and convert it into points in Malaysia. The Sepang track is a medium speed circuit, which is quite hard on the front tyres. With this in mind, Pirelli have specified both the hard and medium tyres. Despite the high ambient temperatures, humidity and chance of late afternoon rain the likelihood of a safety car is low, and indeed is the lowest of the entire season. Aerodynamically we shall be running a similar package to that in Australia, but will probably have to open up the cooling levels to allow for the increase in ambient temperature.
Pastor Maldonado: The next race in Malaysia will be a real challenge for all the teams due to the hot and humid conditions we find there. The team is feeling positive and our car looks competitive, so we’ll do our best to be in the top 10 again. I feel confident in the team and all the hard work we have done over the winter. I want to carry the momentum we had in Australia forward to get a good result in Malaysia.
Bruno Senna: It is a very tough track, very physical and the heat is a big issue in Malaysia. It will be important to get acclimatised to the heat ahead of the weekend and get a good car set-up for these conditions. We will then try to chip away and continue what we learnt in Australia. I’ve been to Sepang before so I know the track, and I’m looking forward to the race weekend.
Remi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: Malaysia places a very different set of stresses on an engine from Australia. The heat and humidity can present stiff challenges for an engine’s cooling systems that may mean extra holes have to be put in the bodywork to diffuse heat. The safeguards Renault has put in place mean no such measures need to be taken with the RS27 so we can focus entirely on delivering the drivability needed for the flowing corners and those two long straights, which account for 25% of the lap, and building on the strong start in Melbourne.
Paul Hembrey, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For Malaysia we have nominated the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, which was used in Australia, and the P Zero White medium compound, making its debut this year. One of the biggest challenges of Sepang are the tropical conditions, which mean high temperatures, high humidity and the strong chance of a downpour. All these factors, along with quite an abrasive surface, place plenty of demand on the tyres. We have a new evolution of the intermediate and wet tyre – the Cinturato Green and Cinturato Blue – which could see action in Malaysia for the first time.