2009 Malaysian GP Preview

Kimi Raikkonen - 2008 Malaysian GP Winner

Kimi Raikkonen - 2008 Malaysian GP Winner

Following the Australian Grand Prix we all now have a bit better picture about the form of the teams. Sepang however is a very different track and not always were the Australian GP results mirrored by outcome of the Malaysian GP. Since 2001 when Malaysian GP moved to their 2nd race of the season slot only Michael Schumacher (2001, 2004) managed to win in Melbourne and then went on to win also the next race in Malaysia. (Check the end of this post for the top three stats). Most observers expect the differences between cars to be even more obvious in Malaysia then they were in Melbourne. That sounds like good news for Brawn, bad news for McLaren and Ferrari. However the Malaysian GP is not only about the track characteristics but also about the heat, humidity and rain. Heat and humidity can have effect on relaibility of the cars and those with least testing mileage may be the most vulnerable ones. The rain (that thanks to 5pm start is rather likely to come) may throw all the predictions out of the window and benefit the rain masters.


weather-sepang

Let’s look back who did well in rainy races in recent past – Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button (although he spun out of 2007 Europe), Mark Webber (before the hit from Vettel at Fuji), Adrian Sutil (before the hit from Kimi Raikkonen in Monaco) to name few. With Brawn car generating the most downforce at the moment (a handy thing on slippery surface) even a rainy race may favour the Brackley cars …

If it stays dry the slick tyres will again be a big challenge. The Sepang track is very harsh on tyres. This year is also the first time Bridgestone is bringing the soft compound to Malaysia along with the hard one.

sepang-track-info
(click on the image to enlarge)

I would probably still go with Brawn GP as the favourites for Malaysian GP but Red Bull, Williams and Toyota will be right on their tails. Ferrari and BMW Sauber are probably a bit off the pace at the moment but smart strategy and bit of luck may move them to the sharp end of the field as well (look at Kubica in Melbourne). In Renault they believe that Sepang shoud suit them more than Albert Park. The only team that does not seem to expect things to get much better is McLaren.

If it rains however, it is anybody’s race, all that will matter is to stay on track…

2008
Melbourne
1) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes
2) Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber
3) Heikki Kovalainen – McLaren-Mercedes

Malaysia
1) Kimi Räikkönen – Ferrari
2) Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber
3) Heikki Kovalainen – McLaren-Mercedes

2007
Melbourne
1) Kimi Räikkönen – Ferrari
2) Fernando Alonso – McLaren-Mercedes
3) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren-Mercedes

Malaysia
1) Alonso – McLaren
2) Hamilton – McLaren
3) Raikkonen – Ferrari

(in 2006 Bahrain not Melbourne opened the season)

2005
Melbourne
1) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari
3) Fernando Alonso – Renault

Malaysia
1) Fernando Alonso – Renault
2) Jarno Trulli – Toyota
3) Nick Heidfeld – Williams-BMW

2004
Melbourne
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari
3) Fernando Alonso – Renault

Malaysia
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari
2) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW
3) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda

2003
Melbourne
1) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes
2) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW
3) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes

2003 Malaysia
1) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari
3) Fernando Alonso – Renault

2002
Melbourne
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari
2) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW
3) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes

Malaysia
1) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW
2) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW
3) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari

2001
Melbourne
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari
2) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes
3) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari

2001 Malaysia
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari
3) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes

Photo: Shell Motorsport
Track data image: Bridgeston Motorsports

5 Comments Post a Comment
  1. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    Can’t avoid this :P

    http://en.f1-live.com/f1/en/headlines/news/detail/090401093727.shtml

    They’re usually out from the edge, mistaking or publishing just rumors without a clear source… But can’t say that they do not have sense of humor HAHAHA!

    Kotenoks last blog post..F1Wolf added a video

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      yea, yesterday the net was full April Fools day jokes. The sad thing about F1-Live is , that majority of their “news” all year are just the same, rumours…

  2. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    Humm, what about other’s?? BMW-Mercedes fusion!? HAHAHA!

    Here in spain the fools day is the 28th December, the matter that some stand up stunning what’s happening out there :P

    Kotenoks last blog post..F1Wolf added a video

  3. bmwf1guyNo Gravatar says:

    Some teams are almost redesigning their cars with new double decker diffusers in case these diffusers are legal so Brawn remains a worry and on that I give them the race win again. Could it be another 1-2?

    bmwf1guys last blog post..Looking Ahead to Sepang for the BMW Sauber Team

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      Could it be another 1-2?

      their package is probably strong enough for few more 1-2s before the rest catches up. but Malaysia will be tough on machinery and this is the place where their lack of testing may play some part.

      and then there is always that tropical rain …

      I think this race is probably at least as unpredictable as the Australian GP :-)

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