|2015 winner||Sebastian Vettel, 56 laps, 1:41:05.793s|
|2015 pole position||Lewis Hamilton, 1m49.834s|
|2015 fastest lap||Nico Rosberg, 1m42.062s (lap 43)|
|Name||Sepang International Circuit|
|Circuit length||5.543km/3.444 miles (8th longest of the season)|
|Distance to turn one||600m/0.373 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)|
|Longest straight||920m/0.572 miles, on the approach to Turn 15|
|Top speed||330km/h/205mph, on the approach to Turn 15|
|Pitlane length||420m/0.261 miles, estimated time loss 24s (longest of season: Silverstone, 489m/0.304 miles)|
|Full throttle||65 per cent, with the longest period of full throttle being 12s|
|DRS zones||Two, on the approaches to Turns One and 15|
|Key corner||Turn 14, a tightening, understeer-inducing right-hander that loads up the outside tyres. It’s important to get the car into the apex and get the power down early because the longest straight on the lap follows, along which there is the second DRS zone|
|Fastest corner||260km/h (162mph), Turn Five|
|Slowest corner||70km/h (43mph), Turn Two|
|Major changes for 2016||The circuit has been re-surfaced since last year and more than half of the corners have new kerbs and improved drainage. The camber at Turn Nine has been altered, and, most significantly, Turn 15 has been re-profiled to make it slower, in an effort to encourage overtaking|
|Fuel consumption||1.79 per lap, which is average|
|ERS||Low. There are several slow corners, out of which electrical power has an impact on acceleration, but there are eight significant braking events around the lap where energy can be recovered|
|Brake wear||Medium. Only 15 per cent of the lap is spent braking|
|Gear changes||57 per lap/3,192 per race|
|History lesson||Sepang was the first F1 track to be designed by Hermann Tilke, whose company has helped to design 11 of the 21 circuits on this year’s calendar. Sepang was opened in March 1999 and it hosted its first grand prix later that year, since when it has been a permanent fixture in F1. This year the race is taking place in October, for the first time since 2000.|
|What makes the track unique||It has an interesting mix of medium and high-speed corners, but the biggest single challenge for the teams is cooling. The ambient temperature rarely drops below 30 degrees at this time of year, which places added pressure on the cooling of the power unit in particular.|
|Grip levels||Medium. The circuit has been re-surfaced this year, so grip levels will depend on how the asphalt has cured since it was laid six months ago. The fast corners have high levels of grip due to the aerodynamic downforce created by the cars, but the new surface will be the biggest single factor influencing grip levels.|
|Run-off||Good. This is a modern racetrack, with excellent run-off areas. There are more gravel traps than asphalt run-off areas because they are the preferred safety option for bike racing, which also takes place at Sepang.|
|Watch out for...||The rain – and when it rains in this part of the world, it usually pours. In 2009 the race had to be stopped after 31 laps due to a flooded racetrack and the later-than-normal start time of 3pm leaves the race vulnerable to a late-afternoon thunderstorm.|
“I’m looking forward to heading back to Malaysia after 18 months since the last race there. It’ll be interesting to see how the cars cope on the newly-resurfaced track, and I imagine the weather conditions will be different from our last visit. Still, we expect it to be a tough race in the heat and humidity, but there’s a good combination of slow and high-speed corners and fast straights, so it has a little bit of everything. It tests every part of the package, and the driver too, so hopefully there’ll be some close racing and an entertaining weekend for the fans.”
“Sepang is becoming a modern classic – although it’s a relatively new circuit, it’s one of those tracks that drivers enjoy going back to. The conditions are like nothing else we experience, the circuit is quite technical and fun to drive, and the atmosphere is always great. Although it’s traditionally seen as a high-speed circuit which isn’t usually something that our package favours, we do have a good car under braking which is necessary to handle the tight corners after the long, fast straights.”
|Start time||15:00hrs local/08:00hrs BST|
|Race distance||56 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/42 laps)|
|Safety Car likelihood||Low. There is only a 20 per cent chance of a Safety Car|
|When to press record||The start. It’s a long drag to the first corner, which is a slow 180-degree right-hander, immediately followed by a left-hander. There’s always a good scrap through this section on lap one, with the outside line through Turn One sometimes proving to be the more successful|
|Don't put the kettle on||Vettel won last year’s race on a two-stop strategy, while Hamilton and Rosberg stopped three times en route to second and third places. The addition of the Soft tyre to this year’s compound list is likely to increase the number of stops, with most drivers trying to complete the race distance on three stops. Expect pitlane action on or around laps 10, 25 and 40|
|Weather conditions now||29 degrees|
|Weather forecast||31 degrees|
|Tyre choices||Soft/Medium/Hard, a combination that has only been used twice before this year, at Barcelona and Silverstone|
|First Malaysian Grand Prix||1999|
|Slogan||There is no official slogan, but the construction of Sepang International Circuit coincided with the launch of ‘Vision 2020’, a development programme intended to accelerate Malaysia’s drive towards industrialisation.|
|Malaysia's F1 heritage||The country’s first association with F1 came via the national oil company, which started sponsoring Sauber in 1995. Four years and $150m later, the first Malaysian Grand Prix was staged at Sepang, which has been the race’s home for 18 consecutive seasons. There has been one Malaysian driver, Alex Yoong, who raced for Minardi in 2001.|
|Smallest winning margin||0.732s, in 2000. Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen lined up on the front row, but it was the McLaren duo of Mika and David Coulthard that ran 1-2 at the end of lap one. Mika was later penalised for jumping the start, handing the lead to David. But a driving error by the Scotsman handed Schumacher the lead, which he was never to lose. The gap between them was less than 1s for the last 12 laps of the race.|
|Sporting legacy||With two grands prix tracks in the region, in Singapore and at Sepang, F1 has a solid foothold in South East Asia. But Malaysia’s prowess as a sporting nation has grown steadily since it hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1998, and this year it came home with five medals from the Rio Olympic Games.|
|Did you know?||At 310.408kms/192.879 miles, the Malaysian Grand Prix is the longest race of the season in terms of distance.|
|Don't forget||McLaren has won the Malaysian Grand Prix twice, most recently in 2007.|
|Fan zone||Michael, aged 38, from Kuala Lumpur, asks: “I’ve been a massive McLaren fan, ever since Kimi Räikkönen won at Sepang in 2003. Please can you tell me what the team has been doing since the Singapore Grand Prix last week; have you spent any time in Kuala Lumpur?” McLaren’s answer: “Our freight was transported the 200 miles from Singapore to Sepang by road. All 11 teams made the journey together, which created an impressive convoy of lorries. As for personnel, a few people stayed in Asia after Singapore, but the majority returned to Woking, where work on next year’s MP4-32 continues.”|
“The challenge at this circuit is to maintain good balance throughout the long straights, big stops and sweeping corners, all while taking the tough and often changeable conditions into account. After a recent run of mixed fortunes on one side of the garage, our aim for the remaining races has to be to iron out reliability niggles and finish with both cars.
“Since the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix at this circuit in 1999, Sepang has become a popular venue for drivers and fans alike. There have been a number of memorable races there and thanks to the climate and the nature of the technical layout, it often produces unpredictable results. There are good overtaking opportunities to be had and ample run-off, which once again promises interesting racing.
“The Sepang circuit poses a tough technical challenge for our mechanics and engineers, who have to strike a delicate compromise between efficient cooling, aerodynamic performance and balance, so Friday running will be important initially in order to assess the impact of the new track surface on the car and the re-profiling of some corners – particularly Turn 15. If we can achieve reliability on both sides of the garage, I’m hopeful for a positive weekend. We’ve proved recently that our package is a firm contender in the midfield pack and we have the potential to finish ahead of some strong teams, so we’ll keep fighting to maintain our position and move closer to the front of the grid.
“Finally, I’d like to congratulate Jenson on his 300th grand prix – a spectacular achievement for a great world champion, and we look forward to celebrating this incredible milestone with him and the team this weekend.”
“The Malaysian Grand Prix will no doubt be another hot and humid battle to be fought amongst the drivers. The changeable conditions mean it will be tricky to find a good balance with the car, and the rain can of course give us an added challenge. The circuit in Sepang is an undulating mix of long straights and sweeping corners, which all make for an exciting race with lots of good overtaking battles. We are not 100 per cent certain if we will install any power unit updates for this race, but we’ll look to make our final decision at the track based on the balance of performance and reliability.
“More importantly, this will be a race to celebrate as Jenson makes his 300th Grand Prix start, which is an incredible milestone and achievement in such a demanding sport. We’re lucky to have two world champion drivers in the team with such experience, and hope that we can finish with a strong result for everyone in the team.”
It was a fairly smooth start to McLaren-Honda’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Both drivers enjoyed relatively trouble-free sessions as they sampled Sepang’s re-surfaced and slightly re-profiled sweeping curves for the first time.
Despite the sweltering ambient and track temperatures, both cars ran without issue, although both drivers lightly snagged the floor during their opening FP2 runs, which prompted a slight delay to patch up the bodywork.
Neither driver found a definitive set-up, but with Fernando facing a series of power unit element-change grid penalties, and changeable weather forecast over the next few days, there is still much to play for during the remainder of the weekend.
|FP1||1m36.510s (+1.283s)||18 laps||5th|
|FP2||1m36.296s (+1.352s)||27 laps||7th|
|FP1||1m37.613s (+2.386s)||20 laps||10th|
|FP2||1m36.715s (+1.771s)||22 laps||10th|
“We were out a bit late in FP2 because some of the set-up changes we made to the car took a little bit longer than we thought. That meant I got out when everybody else was on high-fuel. Then I caught up with Kevin [Magnussen] in Turn 10, and he kept on the racing line, which hurt me in terms of lap-time.
“So the single-lap pace of the car isn’t too bad – and I even think we can be further up tomorrow. The long-run pace isn’t quite there yet – but we think we know what we can do with the balance to help that.
“The new asphalt here is very strange – it feels like there’s a lot of grip, then it’s suddenly taken away from you. It’s difficult to read – it feels a bit like Sochi: the oversteer comes out of nowhere.”
“The re-surfaced and re-profiled Sepang circuit poses a significant challenge to both teams and engineers this weekend. Fortunately, we had a clean day of practice and were able to gather some useful test data as we dialed the cars in during today’s practice sessions.
“Fernando made a positive start to his weekend by immediately dropping into the groove and looking impressively quick at times. It’s frustrating that he’s facing a significant grid penalty – for introducing new power unit elements – but it’s something we’d already factored into our weekend programme, and we’ll work hard to provide him with a car and a strategy to best cope with that setback on Sunday.
“Jenson’s 300th grand prix this weekend is a considerable milestone – and it’s one that the whole team and many people inside the paddock will be celebrating with him. He hasn’t yet got a balance that he’s fully satisfied with, but we’ve got plenty of data to analyse this evening before choosing a set-up path ahead of qualifying tomorrow.”
“Today’s very hot and humid free practice sessions had some minor interruptions, with an unexpected red flag due to a pit-lane fire, and sensor trouble on our cars, but I am satisfied that we managed to otherwise get through our aero, tyre and set-up confirmations according to our run programme for tomorrow’s qualifying
“The updates that Honda has brought to our power unit for Malaysia are focused on increasing the durability while decreasing overall weight of the surrounding parts around the ICE. This consequently helps performance, but does not lead to an outright increase.
“Both sessions ran very smoothly, and we were able to gather track running data that we cannot test on the dyno. We will now focus on analysing the data thoroughly to prepare the power unit for future race use.”
McLaren-Honda picked up eight points after getting both cars home inside the top 10 of today’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
Fernando drove a sensational race from 22nd to seventh at the flag. While the Virtual Safety Car dropped a free pitstop into his lap, he drove with verve and flair both before and after to carve through the field. By the end of lap one, he was running in 14th, and was barely out of the top 10 for the remainder of the afternoon.
Jenson’s two-stop strategy was stymied almost immediately by the appearance of the Virtual Safety Car, which gave his rivals – including Fernando – a free stop, and dropped him back to ninth. It was the only dose of bad luck in an otherwise faultless race.
|Fastest lap||1m38.291s on lap 44||+1.867s||6th|
|Pit-stops||Three||Laps 9 (2.77s), 27 (2.62s) and 37 (2.40s)||Option/Back-Up/Option/Option|
|Fastest lap||1m38.740s on lap 51||+2.316s||8th|
|Pit-stops||Two||Laps 9 (2.84s) and 40 (2.79s)||Option/Back-Up/Option|
“My race wasn’t too bad – but I got so unlucky with the Virtual Safety Car. The cars behind me were on a three-stop and I was on a two-stopper – then, three laps after I pitted, there was a Virtual Safety Car, which meant they were all able to gain 15 seconds on me for free. It’s a shame I missed it – but luck has not been on my side for these last few races.
“I was actually up into fourth position at the start before a couple of cars dragged past me on the opening lap.
“The two-stopper was the better strategy today, but it’s too difficult to make work when there’s a VSC; I was looking good for seventh up until that point.
“Hopefully I’ll have a bit more luck in the last five races.”
“To be looking at two points’ finishes after starting one car from last position on the grid is an extremely satisfying result – and a real testament to the progress we’re continuing to make at McLaren-Honda. The split-strategy reaped dividends for both Fernando and Jenson, and the pit-crew executed five faultless pit-stops, including a double-shuffle, which is always a stressful moment in any race.
“Fernando’s charge through the field may have been fortuitously assisted by an opportune Virtual Safety Car period, but he was already inside the top 10 before making his final stop. He benefited from our aggressive three-stop strategy, and drove with all his fire and bravado to make up 10 positions on the opening lap alone.
“Jenson, driving in his 300th grand prix, was no less impressive – but he was desperately unlucky to make his second, and final, pit-stop just a few laps before the Virtual Safety Car handed his rivals a free, and unexpected, stop. To be clear, the two-stop was the fastest option to the chequer, and he was nicely lined up for the rest of the race – until the Virtual Safety Car. That’s motor racing, but we all know that Jenson’s driving is worthy of greater reward than ninth, and I’m sure that will come his way in these final five races.
“Now, we look forward to the next grand prix, at Suzuka, Japan, in seven days’ time. For Honda, it’s the most important and prestigious race of the season, and, buoyed by our result this weekend, we’ll be aiming for another good showing next week.”
“I am very happy about the great drives from both drivers today, with many on-track battles. The team also did a great job with a solid strategy that helped us bring both cars home in the points.
“We battled strongly with Williams and Force India throughout the race, and it was a shame that we couldn’t get fully in front, but I think we had very strong race pace, so it’s an encouraging result looking ahead to our home grand prix in Suzuka.
“It was unlucky for Jenson with the Virtual Safety Car and his pit-stop timing, but he drove well and had consistent race pace throughout. Fernando, as usual, had a very good start and a strong charge through the field to finish seventh, another amazing result similar to Spa-Francorchamps.
“Today’s brilliant drives and double points finish are a great motivation for McLaren-Honda.”