2016 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, Preview
26 September 2016

Renault Sport Formula One Team previews the sixteenth race weekend of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the Malaysia Grand Prix.
Drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen share their thoughts on the challenges of Sepang International Circuit, while our management and technical staff give the latest on the team and on the R.S.16-R.E.16 package.





Everyone in the team was delighted to finally get some more points on the board in Singapore. We’ve been knocking on the door of the top ten for the past four races so to cross the chequered flag and get them was extremely satisfying. Moreover, the result came on merit and not due to good luck. Kevin raced hard, the pit stops were excellent and we got the strategy spot on.


We hope for more of that in Malaysia and believe it should be within our grasp. The faster circuits suit us better than the slower ones and we should be able to take full use of the small power unit and mechanical upgrades introduced for the first time in Singapore. We are now focussing on the smaller details for the end of the season, and making sure we are exploiting everything to its maximum, including within our operations. We’re on a positive trend and want to take this momentum forward into the final rounds in Asia.


Cyril Abiteboul, managing director




Staying East

Fred Vasseur looks forward to the next race in the Far East for round 16 of the Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The team enjoyed its second highest finish in Singapore – was it a boost for everyone?

We scored a point, which meant much more than a single digit to all at Viry and at Enstone and for sure it is a lift for all in the team. The motivation is always there but it’s that much more rewarding when the outcome of a race weekend is positive. This has been a long and hard season so far and we’re all at the start of a long journey so a positive result is warmly welcomed.

The team now heads to Malaysia. What’s the challenge for the team for the last six races of the season?

We must continue to work on improving all areas, however we have particular focus on those areas of car and team performance which are relevant for next season. So for the car, areas like reliability and improving our systems of understanding tyre performance are applicable. Also, for the team, areas like pit stops are crucial and we saw how well we are performing in this area with some exceptional stops from our crew in Singapore.

Are there particular targets for the drivers?

Every single race weekend is important and each venue we visit presents its own challenges. Of course we always expect the best from the drivers and that they deliver the best they can. Together as a team our sole ambition is to make progress at every opportunity. In Singapore we saw Kevin run a great race and Jolyon had quite a challenge through circumstances out of his control. We know how hard both drivers are pushing and we’re equally pushing as hard as possible to give them the best opportunity to deliver on track.

From your perspective, how have you seen the evolution of the team this season?

What we can witness during a race weekend is only the visible part of the iceberg. There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes from recruitment to restructuring and physical infrastructure improvement and expansion. This is a long term project and we have to go through this planning and development phase in order to reap the benefits in the future. What everyone sees on television on a Sunday afternoon is just one aspect of a Formula 1 team. We are happy that there is strong progress being made.


Thirsty for more

Kevin Magnussen is thirsty for more points as he previews the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Kevin, you had your second highest finish of the season and scored for the team in Singapore, how good did that feel?

It was really satisfying for myself and I was very pleased for the team because it was a boost for us all. I know how everybody back in Enstone and in Viry is working hard so a lift is just very welcome. We must now continue to improve and hopefully we can do the same again in Malaysia!

How did the result in Singapore come together?

It was one of those races where we proved the adage that you should never give up. To be honest, we didn’t look great at the beginning of the weekend yet we all kept pushing to maximise every detail over the weekend. In the race itself I made a great start and our strategy worked really well. It was a hard-earned point and a very rewarding one for all!

What are your thoughts about Malaysia?

It will again be a very hot and humid race weekend so it will be physically demanding just like it was in Singapore. I like Sepang Circuit and besides being a great venue, the track has some great high speed sections and the last section is especially one I like very much. Tyre management will be a key aspect in Sepang.

Have you got any particular memories of racing there in the past?

My first race in Sepang was in 2014 but it didn’t leave me with any particular good memory but hopefully we can change that next weekend!

Do you look forward to some typical Malaysian street food?

Unfortunately on a race weekend there’s not too much time available to explore and sample the local cuisine and I’ll most likely be headed back to the hotel every evening. It’s a long day at the track then you have to train, relax and ensure you get enough sleep to be at your best for the race. Sadly sometimes sampling the local culture has to wait until you’re on holiday.

How thirsty were you at the end of the Singapore Grand Prix?

I was very thirsty as I didn’t have any water at all during the race! No water at one of the hottest races of the season is not ideal but I got through it and tried to put it on the back of my mind during the race and concentrate on the task at hand.

Have you been busy since Singapore?

I did some work for one of our biggest partners, Infiniti, which was good fun and should be seen soon. After that I spent a few days back in Denmark before heading to Malaysia so I’ll replenish on energy and be ready for the next race!



Pumped up

Jolyon Palmer looks forward to staying in the heat and humidity of the Far East in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Jolyon, what are your thoughts about Malaysia?

It’s hot and humid just like Singapore! It’s a nice place to visit and Sepang Circuit is modern. It’s nice and flowing with a couple of long straights, some fast corners and there are big braking zones. A strong finish was not possible on the streets of Singapore so I’m pumped up for this coming race and determined to gun for points.

You were a bit frustrated after your race in Singapore?

Yes! It was a weekend which didn’t run the smoothest over my side of the garage yet it was clear there was potential. My race was undone on the first lap when I wasn’t able to make a good start with some of the action occurring in front of me and then I got a slow puncture, most likely because of the broken parts from the cars ahead. After that it was damage limitation really as the early pit stop put us out of sequence and meant we had to stretch the tyre performance; there was no way back to a good result basically! I was frustrated as we knew there was scope for more all weekend and we saw that from Kevin. I would have been far happier for myself and the team if we’d both had good results; let’s hope for that in Sepang.

What’s your history in Malaysia?

I raced in Sepang twice when I was in GP2 but for various reasons at the time I didn’t have any memorable finishes, although one year I came up to ninth from the back of the grid. There’s some good overtaking opportunities at this circuit and hopefully this experience will be useful for me this year!

Have you seen much of Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur in the past?

I’ve been lucky enough to see a bit of it; we don’t always have time to see the places we visit much because we have busy schedules. Kuala Lumpur is a really nice city to explore and downtown you can visit the very modern areas with the big famous towers and then you have the more traditional areas and the markets. The city’s got a great vibe.

What have you been up to since Singapore?

I went to Sri Lanka for a few days and then flew back to the UK. Malaysia is another fly away race with a big time difference so I like to get there nice and early to adapt to the time zone and to the climate to be fit and ready for the race weekend.



Wheels are turning

Chief Technical Officer Bob Bell previews the Malaysian Grand Prix

What type of circuit is Sepang?

Sepang is a modern circuit with a mix of high and low speed sections where a reasonable high speed balance is required, but at the same time low speed braking stability and traction are equally important as well.

Traditionally, it has been a track that’s very smooth which obviously helps with ride. The circuit has been resurfaced which hopefully will make it even better. We’ll discover the new surface when we get there in a few days’ time. Pirelli have allocated the hard, medium and soft compounds in Malaysia which is probably a bit on the harder side than what we’d prefer but let’s see how they will fare.

What type of set up are we anticipating?

It tends to be one of those circuits where we will be working on fine tuning the car as it isn’t a track that requires an extreme set-up focusing on any particular challenge.

Is the team’s focus solely on 2017 now? 

We still continue to work on development in Malaysia, a carry-on from what we’ve done in Singapore and some of that is relevant for next year. Next year, of course, there are big changes coming into force with completely different aero packages, so it’s more the direction of the concepts rather than the physical changes we make to this year’s car.

How is the development going for next year?

Back at the factories, we are meeting milestone deadlines with the practical process of drawing the components, getting them made and bringing them together. This is a very involved and complex process and is largely on-track at the moment. The hunt for performance in those components continues unabated !

Where is the current focus for development for the team?

As a team we have progressed well since the beginning of the year. Recruitment has been key these past few months, and still is. Although the aim is to have around 650 employees it is always about quality not quantity. We can see visible signs of change even walking around the sites compared to what it was six months ago. You can see the increased headcount and renewed facilities. The changes are palpable and we feel a sense of achievement which at the moment is not yet visible on track. Beneath the surface wheels are most certainly turning.


Circuit notes


Pit straight: The ICE will be flat out for around 10secs with speeds reaching over 330kph with DRS activated.


T1: Good engine driveability required through Turns 1 and 2, the second of which leads to a high speed section so a good exit is needed.


T3: This corner is easy flat.


T4: Heavy braking here.


T5 & 6: Turns 5 and 6 are two of the fastest corners on the track, taken at an average 200kph, with only a small lift off between corners. These high speed turns require stiff suspension. The car can be run lower and stiffer as there are no high kerbs in Sepang.


T7: Turning whilst braking means this corner can prove punishing for tyres.


T15: The hairpin connecting the two straights and the T1-2 corner complex put an emphasis on turbo response. Braking forces slow the ICE’s revs to around 6,500rpm, with the turbo speed simultaneously dropping by around half.


Power Unit notes

  • The ICE will be running at full throttle for around 60% of the lap. This is one of the higher percentages of the season, particularly when compared to Australia, which was around 55%. Monza is of course the highest of the year, with around 75% of the lap taken at full throttle. The longest periods of wide open throttle are the pit straight and the back straight before the hairpin, both of which are approx. 1km each.
  • The humidity of the Malaysian climate reduces the air to fuel mix so theoretically gives the ICE an easier run as the greater the water content in the air, the less oxygen is available to burn. A turbocharged engine however always equalizes ambient pressure within the ICE so this effect will be mitigated.
  • The hairpin connecting the two straights and the T1-2 corner complex puts an emphasis on turbo response. Braking forces slow the ICE’s revs to around 6,500rpm, with the turbo speed simultaneously dropping by around half.
  • Sepang is medium difficulty for the MGU-K since the majority of corners are medium to high speed. The opportunity to recover energy through braking is therefore minimal and fuel consumption is high when compared to the other circuits that feature a higher frequency of ‘stops’ such as Silverstone.
  • Some 25% of the Sepang lap is comprised of straights so the MGU-H has plenty of opportunity to recover energy from the exhaust gasses. In fact Sepang is one of the most efficient circuits in this regard.


Tyre choice


Hard: The Belian or Ironman tree. It is the heaviest, hardest and most valuable tree of Malaysia. It is so hard and dense that its wood can last a lifetime.


Medium: Like the Sago palm tree, this tyre is middle of the range and can be employed for a variety of uses.


Soft: As per the Gaharu tree, this tyre is highly prized. It has a unique sweet spot that can be highly profitable for those who know how to extract it.


Memory Lane

Fortune didn’t always smile on Giancarlo Fisichella during his long F1 career, but in the 2006 Malaysian GP everything went the Italian’s way, and he scored a brilliant win from pole for Renault. The icing on the cake was that Fernando Alonso recovered from a disappointing grid position to claim second place, making it a superb one-two finish for the team. At the start Fisi headed Button away, while Alonso got a flier. Helped by the fact that the Williams guys were battling each other on the inside line Fernando took a few risks on the run to Turn One to end the first lap in an amazing third place. Fisi led comfortably through his two pit stops, and Fernando was able to jump Button in the final round of stops for second. The one-two was a memorable result, especially given that Alonso had started only seventh. In fact it was the first achieved by the Enstone team since Spain 1995 – back in the Schumacher Benetton-Renault days!


Quirky facts

Malaysia has 40,934 miles (65,877 km) of highway. This is more than Earth’s circumference of 24,901 miles (40,075 km). Additionally the biggest roundabout in the world is located at Putrajaya in Malaysia. It is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) in diameter.


Tongkat Ali—a small tree with thick, deep, and straight roots and very common in the forest hills of Malaysia—is called Malay Viagra because it has shown to have a testosterone-like effect on mice. Extracts of tongkat ali are being used in “power drinks” combined with coffee and ginseng.


Malaysia is home to one of the world’s largest populations of king cobras. They are the world’s longest venomous snakes with lengths up to 18.8 feet (5.7 m).


Orangutan, or “man of the forest” in Malay, is humans’ closest relative and Asia’s only great ape. Orangutans can be found only in the wild in Borneo and Sumatra.


Jimmy Choo, the world-renowned shoe designer, was born in Penang, Malaysia, in 1961. His creations were a favorite of the late Princess Diana. He was awarded an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.



Renault Sport Academy & Third, Reserve and Test Driver Roundup

GP2 and GP3 drivers got a rare weekend off as there was no racing in Singapore. However they will be faced with a stern test in Malaysia when the two series gets started again.




Infiniti Hybrid Fact