Malaysian GP – Preview

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Malaysia plays host to the next round of the 2017 Formula One Championship. The Malaysian Grand Prix has been held for 37 times over its history and it is set to close the latest chapter of its history book with this weekend.

The country located in Southeast Asia bids farewell to the Moving Circus for the near future after the promoter terminated the contract of the circuit with F1’s rightsholders.

Only 18 GPs from the 37 races were part of the Formula One Championship. Previous races with the name of the Malaysian GP were part of various other series like Formula Atlantic or Formula Pacific. Since its inception, all F1 Malaysian GPs were held at the Sepang International Circuit.

Ferrari crossed the finish line first for seven times while Red Bull secured the win 4 times. Both McLaren and Renault won the GP on two occasions.

Sebastian Vettel is the most successful driver on the Sepang Circuit with his four triumphs while both Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso saw the chequered flag first for three times. Kimi Räikkönen secured two victories in Sepang.

The country itself

Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. It consists of thirteen states and three federal territories. Malaysia gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 31 August 1957.

Malaysia is the 66th largest country by total land area. The country is divided into two halves. East-Malaysia and West-Malaysia are separated by the South China Sea. Both parts share similar landscape. Around these two halves are numerous islands, the largest of which is Banggi. The climate is equatorial and characterised by the annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons. The temperature is moderated by the presence of the surrounding oceans. Humidity is usually high which makes the Grand Prix physically rather demanding for the drivers. The average annual rainfall is 250 cm. When rain hits the track, it is usually torrential.

The country has a population of 31,6 million habitants. 50.1 per cent of the population is Malaysian while 22.6 per cent have Chinese origins. The currency is ringgit.

Technical know-how

The track is 5543m long which means a total of 56 race laps. The track is extremely wide, some parts of it have a width of 25m which means there are more than one single racing line in various sections of the circuit.

The start is always tense because there is a long distance of 683m down to the first corner from the first row and the first combination of corners is tight which often sees cars touching each other.

Located only 350km (217 miles) from the equator, moving from a spring to autumn date doesn’t greatly affect the ambient conditions for the race: temperatures, humidity and average rainfall are much the same for October as they are for March. Sepang will provide a venue that is hot, fast, tough on tyres and with a very strong possibility of rain.

The longest flat-out section is the start-finish straight which is 1029m long. The back straight which is the last section before the last corner is also very long and offers tempting overtaking manoeuvres for drivers into the slow-speed last bend.

The track where drivers change gears around 40 times per lap requires medium downforce levels. The long straights would lure engineers to trim wings down, but the high-speed corners of the middle section and at the first part of the last sector force them to enable the car to create the right amount of downforce.