The second round of the Formula One Championship is scheduled for this weekend at Malaysia and poses a first real challenge for the 1.6l V6 engines thanks to the double straight.
While Melbourne was a season debut where many expected to see few finishers, most teams surprised the fans by running without problems. Others still have a lot of work to do, and the Malaysian track at Sepang is likely to pose a very stiff challenge to the engines. Australia was more of a challenge for fuel use, but lacking long straights made it slightly easier for the internal combustion engines. In the V8 era this 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.
Of the six main components of the PU, the internal combustion engine will be under the most pressure in Malaysia. The humidity in Sepang made it a little bit easier on normally aspirated engines since power comes down as the water content in the air increases. This means we were generally able to offset the impact of the two long straights. This year we won’t have this luxury. With a turbo engine the air intake is controlled at all times regardless of ambient conditions so those long straights will really start to hurt. As a result Sepang will become a lot less forgiving as twice a lap the PUs will be flat out, with the turbo revving at close to 100,000rpm for over 10secs.
The straights, which are over 1km each, will however provide plenty of opportunity for the MGU-H to be recharged. The tight corners such as the T15 hairpin, the first corner complex and the mid to low speed corners in the third sector will allow the MGU-K to recover energy under braking. With relatively high fuel consumption due to the short bursts of acceleration between turns, getting maximum energy from these opportunities will be incredibly important.
On top of that, the circuit is also a challenge for the tyres as Sepang features a highly abrasive tyre of asphalt which along with the high speed corners forced Pirelli to choose the medium and hard compounds.
The threat of understeer is not as prevalent as in Albert Park so we can run with slightly less front wing
Downforce levels are very similar to the levels in Melbourne
Sepang requires a good all round car. There are high speed straights.There are very high speed change of direction in turns five and six.There are some reasonable traction events with some very low speed tight double hairpin at turn one and turn two. There are no high kerbs so the car can be ran with a lower ride height than otherwise giving better overall downforce
There are four pretty heavy braking zones into turn one, into turn four, into turn 14, and then into turn 15. High temperatures are not such a threat as there are long straights between the braking events to cool the brakes
Pirelli’s medium and hard tyres are used. The track is very demanding on the tyres due to its aggressive surface, heavy braking areas, long straights and wide variety of speeds and corners