2008 Malaysian Formula 1 GP – Wolf’s Race Preview

Sepang Circuit MapThe F1 news sites and blogs are still full of Australian GP reviews and comments but we are only 2 days from the start of the 10th Malaysian Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. It is time for Malaysian GP preview.

The race in Melbourne was unusually hot. In Sepang the drivers can expect the race to be as hot as usual :-) . The tropical climate also brings the high humidity and always a possibility of sudden storm. The weather forecast for Kuala Lumpur suggests that the chances of rain for the coming weekend are not exactly low :-)

Weather Kuala Lumpur

But one never knows. The chances for rain were high last year too, it actually did rain the night before the race. On Sunday it rained all around, but not a single drop felt on the race track during the race :-)

So there are 2 possible scenarios ahead. Sunny and hot (and humid) weekend or rainy and relatively cool (and humid) weekend.


If we take the first scenario we can probably expect similar picture as we had in Melbourne. Ferrari and McLaren will have the fastest cars, BMW Sauber may surprise in the qualifying but will not have the race pace (yet) to keep up with the leaders. Williams, Red Bull, Honda, Renault, Toyota, Toro Rosso will all have a go at Q3 and possibly some points. If Fisi makes it pass the first corner Force India may hope for decent result too. And then there will be Super Aguri to make up the numbers.

Hamilton and Kovalainen will be pretty evenly matched again. Raikkonen will likely qualify well this time and will not have to risk as much as he had to in Australia. Both him and Massa will do their best not to fall asleep at the start of race as they both did in 2007 race. Ferrari engines, all 6 of them (2 x Ferrari, Force India, Toro Rosso), will be new for this race and hoefuly will not fail.

There is not much between the 2 BMW Sauber drivers. The team may again fuel one of the cars light for the qualifying (as they did with Kubica in Melbourne) and will try to get a shot at pole position. It is likely they will outpace Rosberg in qualifying but Rosberg will be right there with the BMW Sauber drivers on Sunday.

Then there is the very closely matched 2008 F1 midfield. Alonso, Webber, Coulthard, Trulli, Glock, Button, Barrichello, Bourdais, Vettel all did well in Melbourne (on Friday and Saturday, and some of them on Sunday too). There will not be enough room in Q3 for all of them …

Exceptionally good qualifying performance may send Fisichella into Q2 but only of some of the drivers from the stronger teams makes a mistake.

I am not sure what to make of Nelson Piquet. His debut race weekend was worse than bad and worse than Kovalainen’s bad debut in F1 with Renault last year. He made way too many mistakes and he was way too much slower than Alonso. The pressure will be on him to perform in Malaysia …

However this is 2008 and no more traction control, half of the drivers may not finish the race :-) . One or 2 or more safety car periods can catch some cars in the wrong time in a wrong place, Toro Rosso may end up fighting for the podium…

And then there is scenario 2 – wet race and anything can happen …

Make your pick :-)

Last year the race was won by Fernando Alonso ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen:

1) Alonso – McLaren 1h 32:14.930
2) Hamilton – McLaren + 0:17.557
3) Raikkonen – Ferrari + 0:18.339
4) Heidfeld – BMW + 0:33.777
5) Massa – Ferrari + 0:36.705
6) Fisichella – Renault + 1:05.638
7) Trulli – Toyota + 1:10.132
8)Kovalainen – Renault + 1:12.015

Here are few photos I took at Sepang last year.

And here are the results from 2006 back to 1999:

2006
1) Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault – 1:30:40.529
2) Fernando Alonso, Renault +4.5 secs
3) Jenson Button, Honda +9.6 secs
4) Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes +39.3 secs
5) Felipe Massa,Ferrari +43.2 secs
6) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari +43.8 secs
7) Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber-BMW +80.4 secs
8)Ralf Schumacher, Toyota +81.2 secs
9) Jarno Trulli, Toyota +1 Lap
10) Rubens Barrichello, Honda +1 Lap
11) Vitantonio Liuzzi, STR-Cosworth +2 Laps
12) Christijan Albers, MF1-Toyota +2 Laps
13) Tiago Monteiro, MF1-Toyota +2 Laps
14) Takuma Sato, Super Aguri-Honda +3 Laps

2005
1) Fernando Alonso, Renault – 1:31:33.736
2) Jarno Trulli, Toyota +24.3 secs
3) Nick Heidfeld, Williams-BMW +32.1 secs
4) Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren-Mercedes +41.6 secs
5) Ralf Schumacher, Toyota +51.8 secs
6) David Coulthard, RBR-Cosworth +72.5 sec
7) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari +79.9 secs
8)Christian Klien, RBR-Cosworth +80.8 secs
9) Kimi Räikkönen, McLaren-Mercedes +81.5 secs
10) Felipe Massa, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
11) Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan-Toyota +2 Laps
12) Tiago Monteiro, Jordan-Toyota +3 Laps
13) Christijan Albers, Minardi-Cosworth +4 Laps

2004
1) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari – 1:31:07.490
2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW +5.0 secs
3) Jenson Button, BAR-Honda +11.5 secs
4) Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari +13.6 secs
5) Jarno Trulli, Renault +37.3 secs
6) David Coulthard, McLaren-Mercedes +53.0 secs
7) Fernando Alonso, Renault +67.8 secs
8)Felipe Massa, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
9) Cristiano da Matta, Toyota +1 Lap
10) Christian Klien, Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap
11) Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
12) Olivier Panis, Toyota +1 Lap
13) Giorgio Pantano, Jordan-Ford +2 Laps
14) Gianmaria Bruni, Minardi-Cosworth +3 Laps
15) Takuma Sato, BAR-Honda +4 Laps
16) Zsolt Baumgartner, Minardi-Cosworth +4 Laps

2003
1) Kimi Räikkönen, McLaren-Mercedes – 1:32:22.195
2) Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari +39.3 secs
3) Fernando Alonso, Renault +64.0 secs
4) Ralf Schumacher, Williams-BMW +88.0 secs
5) Jarno Trulli, Renault +1 Lap
6) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari +1 Lap
7) Jenson Button, BAR-Honda +1 Lap
8)Nick Heidfeld, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
9) Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
10) Ralph Firman, Jordan-Ford +1 Lap
11) Cristiano da Matta, Toyota +1 Lap
12) Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW +3 Laps
13) Jos Verstappen, Minardi-Cosworth +4 Laps

2002
1) Ralf Schumacher, Williams-BMW – 1:34’12.912
2) Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW +39.699
3) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari +1’01.794
4) Jenson Button, Renault +1’09.766
5) Nick Heidfeld, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
6) Felipe Massa, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
7) Allan McNish, Toyota +1 Lap
8)Jacques Villeneuve, BAR-Honda +1 Lap
9) Takuma Sato, Jordan-Honda +2 Laps
10) Pedro de la Rosa, Jaguar-Cosworth +2 Laps
11) Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Arrows-Cosworth +2 Laps
12) Mika Salo, Toyota +3 Laps
13) Giancarlo Fisichella, Jordan-Honda +3 Laps

2001
1) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari – 1:47’34.801
2) Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari +23.660
3) David Coulthard, McLaren-Mercedes +28.555
4) Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jordan-Honda +46.543
5) Ralf Schumacher, Williams-BMW +48.233
6) Mika Hakkinen, McLaren-Mercedes +48.606
7) Jos Verstappen, Arrows-Asiatech +1’21.560
8)Jarno Trulli, Jordan-Honda
9) Jean Alesi, Prost-Acer +1 Lap
10) Luciano Burti, Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap
11) Jenson Button, Benetton-Renault +2 Laps
12) Gaston Mazzacane, Prost-Acer +2 Laps
13) Fernando Alonso, Minardi-European +3 Laps
14) Tarso Marques, Minardi-European +4 Laps

2000
1) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari – 1:35’54.235
2) David Coulthard, McLaren-Mercedes +0.732
3) Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari +18.444
4) Mika Hakkinen, McLaren-Mercedes +35.269
5) Jacques Villeneuve, BAR-Honda +1’10.692
6) Eddie Irvine, Jaguar-Cosworth +1’12.568
7) Alexander Wurz, Benetton-Playlife +1’29.314
8)Mika Salo, Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
9) Giancarlo Fisichella, Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
10) Jos Verstappen, Arrows-Supertec +1 Lap
11) Jean Alesi, Prost-Peugeot +1 Lap
12) Jarno Trulli, Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1 Lap

1999
1) Eddie Irvine, Ferrari – 1:36’38.494
2) Michael Schumacher, Ferrari +1.040
3) Mika Hakkinen, McLaren-Mercedes +9.743
4) Johnny Herbert, Stewart-Ford +17.538
5) Rubens Barrichello, Stewart-Ford +32.296
6) Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Jordan-Mugen-Honda +34.884
7) Jean Alesi, Sauber-Petronas +54.408
8)Alexander Wurz, Benetton-Playlife +1’00.934
9) Marc Gene, Minardi-Ford +1 Lap
10) Alessandro Zanardi, Williams-Supertec +1 Lap
11) Giancarlo Fisichella, Benetton-Playlife +4 Laps

7 Comments Post a Comment
  1. sidepodcastNo Gravatar says:

    “Ferrari engines, all 6 of them (2 x Ferrari, Force India, Toro Rosso), will be new for this race”

    that’s crazy isn’t? if they have cooling issues, they more than anyone, will be praying for lots of rain.

    sidepodcast’s last blog post..Inside Track – Kuala Lumpur Preview

  2. StewNo Gravatar says:

    If Kimi can get his head together he may challenge Lewis pretty good this race, but so far my money is on Lewis to win (if no rain of course). He is looking good and confident and so is the car.
    Nelson Piquet jr is a strange one. He has great potential, but this new arrogant streak he has picked up is no good for any new driver. I can forget about him for 6 or 7 races anyway.

    Hot, but no rain is my wish:)

    Stew’s last blog post..Qualifying Down Under

  3. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    I wish there is a gap of rain, such as in Nurburgring last year. With suddenly turning the conditions worse than undrivable, then the drivers will have a great challenge. And I mean, how drivers manage to survive understeer, continuous brake blocking and low tyre temperatures. Under such conditions withouit TC since many years ago.
    Then we will fast take the conclusions of who are the best drivers having chance to the championship by their skills.

    And, of course, we need to count with the machine, some of them are close to undriveable over wet track or even dry, so… Also get a conclusion about real potential of technology, used well by it’s driver we will find out by which percentage the car is more stable, powerful and reliable.
    I think, by this way we could already get an idea for the next season’s best car.

  4. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    I hope there is some rain, but not a tropical storm … if there is tropical storm, we may see no race :-)

  5. Black ZeddNo Gravatar says:

    I like the Malaysian GP’s rain for the fact that it liven up the suspense (it can go very hot or very wet in minutes)..

    But like the recent Australian GP’s accidents, if safety car is needed, it can punish unfortunate drivers like Heiki in the previous race..

    Well..more suspense then :)

    Black Zedd’s last blog post..Retailing: Clever Tactics Targeting The Not-So Clever

  6. F1 BettingNo Gravatar says:

    Hamilton has described Malaysia as the toughest race of the year with the impending humid forecast set to make it extremely difficult and uncomfortable for drivers but I think this is just a bit of kidology from Lewis to give out signals to the other drivers that he’s not looking forward to it. I very much doubt the conditions will not bother someone as professional as him one bit.

  7. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    To be fair to Hamilton, the conditions in Sepang can get very tough. I went to see that race 3 times and can tell the heat and the humidity are no fun … And that is without sitting in the hot car on the hot track …

    But I agree that this speech from Hamilton may also be a part of his mind games …

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