Tag Archives: Malaysian GP

Hamilton leads Malaysian first practice

Hamilton beat Vettel by half a second

Hamilton beat Vettel by half a second

Lewis Hamilton got over his Australian GP disappointment to lead first practice of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel was 2nd for Red Bull, half a second behind the McLaren driver.

The two Mercedes cars of Rosberg and Schumacher were 0.8 seconds off Hamilton’s time, while Romain Grosjean was 5th. The Renault suffered a gearbox issue during the session, becoming stuck in seventh gear.

Kimi Raikkonen was 7th, but will be dropped 5 places on the grid for the race, after undergoing a gearbox change.

Valtteri Bottas drove Bruno Senna’s Williams, finishing 11th. The Ferraris were 13th and 15th, as they continue to struggle with the F2012.

The HRT cars propped up the back of the grid, with Narain Karthikeyan only setting 8 laps after transmission problems.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:38.021           19
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:38.535  +0.514   21
 3.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:38.813  +0.792   21
 4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:38.826  +0.805   19
 5.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1:38.919  +0.898   17
 6.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:39.092  +1.071   20
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1:39.128  +1.107   22
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:39.298  +1.277   23
 9.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:39.323  +1.302   15
10.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1:39.440  +1.419   19
11.  Valterri Bottas       Williams-Renault       1:39.724  +1.703   23
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       1:39.783  +1.762   23
13.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:39.896  +1.875   16
14.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:39.910  +1.889   21
15.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:39.980  +1.959   23
16.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:40.099  +2.078   23
17.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1:40.247  +2.226   19
18.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:40.469  +2.448   23
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1:40.857  +2.836   25
20.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:41.085  +3.064   23
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1:43.170  +5.149   18
22.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1:44.580  +6.559   14
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1:45.360  +7.339    8
24.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1:45.528  +7.507   18

Malaysian Grand Prix stats and facts

Sebastian Vettel’s second win of the season means he now has 4 wins in a row, including last year’s Brazil and Abu Dhabi successes. Also from the Malaysian Grand Prix:

  • A 3rd place finish from Nick Heidfeld was the 100th podium position for a Renault driver.
  • It was also the 13th podium for Heidfeld without a win, beating Stefan Johansson to a certainly unenviable record.
  • Vettel has led 109 out of the 114 laps so far this season. He also has a 24-point lead in the championship, the largest gap to seconds place since Singapore 2009, when Jenson Button led by 25 points.
  • Sebastian has never slipped below 4th place in any race so far this year. Compare that to Pastor Maldonado, whose highest position has been 15th at any point.
  • His 12th career win is as many as Mario Andretti, Alan Jones and Carlos Reutemann. His 17th pole position is the same as Jackie Stewart.
  • Heidfeld also holds the records for most points without a win, and is behind Andrea de Cesaris in “most races without a win”. Nick has 240 points so far in his career, ahead of second-placed Nico Rosberg with 217.5.
  • Lewis Hamilton’s 2nd place on the grid means he has started 42.47% of his races on the front row. This puts him ahead of Michael Schumacher, who has 42.44%.
  • Vettel’s 9th pole position and victory matches him alongside Lewis Hamilton, Niki Lauda and Alberto Ascari.

Points standings after Malaysian Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Sebastian Vettel 50
2 Jenson Button 26
3 Lewis Hamilton 22
4 Mark Webber 22
5 Fernando Alonso 20
6 Felipe Massa 16
7 Nick Heidfeld 15
8 Vitaly Petrov 15
9 Kamui Kobayashi 6
10 Sebastien Buemi 4
11 Adrian Sutil 2
12 Michael Schumacher 2
13 Paul di Resta 2
14 Jerome D’Ambrosio 0
15 Timo Glock 0
16 Sergio Perez 0
17 Kamui Kobayashu 0
18 Rubens Barrichello 0
19 Nico Rosberg 0
20 Heikki Kovalainen 0
21 Michael Schumacher 0
22 Pastor Maldonado 0
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings:

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 72
2 McLaren-Mercedes 48
3 Ferrari 36
4 Renault 30
5 Sauber-Ferrari 6
6 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 4
7 Force India-Mercedes 4
8 Mercedes GP 2
9 Lotus-Renault 0
10 Virgin-Cosworth 0
11 Williams-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Hamilton and Alonso hit with 20-second penalties

Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th after his penalty

Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th after his penalty

Both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have been dealt 20-second time penalties after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled that both drivers acted illegaly while battling for position near the end of the race.

Onboard with Hamilton as Alonso clips his front wing off the McLaren

Onboard with Hamilton as Alonso clips his front wing off the McLaren

Alonso drew close to Hamilton with his KERS system, but not DRS. Lewis moved twice off his line to defend, and Fernando clipped the back of the McLaren, taking off part of his front wing, but Hamilton’s car emerged unscathed.

However, the stewards believe that Hamilton moving off his line twice, and Alonso making contact with the McLaren, both deserved penalties.

Alonso stays 6th, while Hamilton drops from 7th to 8th, behind Kamui Kobayashi.

The ruling was explained as follows:

    Facts: The Driver of car 3 made more than one change of direction to defend a position
    Offence: Breach of Article 20.2 of the 2011 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations
    Penalty: Drive through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with Article 16.3 
    (20 seconds added to elapsed time).
    Stewards’ decision 51 (Lewis Hamilton)

    Fact: Caused a collision with car 3.
    Offence: Involved in an incident as defined by Article 16.1 of the 2011 FIA Formula 
    One Sporting Regulations
    Penalty: Drive through penalty, imposed after the race in accordance with Article 
    16.3 (20 seconds added to elapsed time).
    Stewards’ decision 52 (Fernando Alonso)

It is worth noting that Hamilton was not weaving at the time of the accident, rather a lap beforehand. This video shows how, on the main straight, Lewis moved twice:

However, I can't see how either of these penalties are justified. Lewis had received a warning for the same (but more erratic) move a year ago in Malaysia, but it seems slightly harsh.

Alonso, meanwhile, had already lost out hugely by losing his front wing, so what's the point of penalising him? The introduction of KERS and DRS was designed for drivers to properly race each other, and slapping drivers' wrists for the slightest offence or mistake is not the way to carry forward this message.

Vettel takes 2 wins out of 2 in Malaysia

Sebastian Vettel continued his impressive start to the 2011 season by taking victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Jenson Button was 2nd, ahead of Nick Heidfeld.

Vettel held his lead at the opening corner, while Webber had an absolutely shocking start and fell to 10th. Nick Heidfeld amazingly dived up to 2nd around the outside, ahead of the two McLarens.

Webber bogs down while the Renaults have a fantastic start

Webber bogs down while the Renaults have a fantastic start

Lewis was not quicker than Nick, and so Sebastian began to carve out a lead. Rubens Barrichello suffered a rear left puncture on the pit straight, and lost out massively, struggling around for an entire lap before pitting.

After a few laps, the first signs of rain appeared around the circuit. It was nowhere near the amount required for intermediates though, so most drivers tended to conserve their slicks.

Further back, Webber couldn’t find a way past Kobayashi in 9th. Twice he managed to get ahead, but on both occasions the combination of DRS and KERS kept Kamui in 9th.

Mark, eventually sick of getting stuck behind the Sauber, pitted for a new set of soft tyres on Lap 11. Lewis, still behind Heidfeld, was instructed to conserve his tyres, rather than pass the Renault. He pitted on Lap 13, which put him into clear air, allowing him to pick up pace.

Almost immidiately afterwards, the first spots of rain appeared on the cameras. Still unsure as to how te weather would go, Vettel and Button opted to stay with another set of softs. Nick also stopped, but ended up behind Button.

Hamilton and Buemi were both stuck behind Schumacher. On the back straight, all three cars ran side by side, and Lewis won out, while Schumacher pitted at the end of the lap.

Most drivers finished their first set of stops by Lap 20. Both Hamilton and Alonso in 2nd and 3rd now began to catch Vettel in front, by several tenths a lap. Fernando rounded off fastest lap after fastest lap, while Lewis got within 4.9 seconds on Lap 24.

Button and Webber jumped to their second stops unusually early, suggesting they were running 4-stop strategies. Hamilton meanwhile took a different view on the situation, taking on the harder tyre. Vettel responded on the next lap, choosing to stay with the softer compound.

Lewis, initially held up behind Petrov after his second stop, passed the Renault to release the McLaren into clean air. Sebastian, meanwhile, emerged behind Massa and Heidfeld, costing him valuable time. Soon after, team radio conversations revealed that both Red Bulls were suffering from KERS problems, which put him at huge risk from Hamilton behind.

The Red Bull survived its KERS issue, and began to pull out a larger lead on the McLaren. Alonso behind soon began to catch Lewis, as the harder tyre failed to produce much grip as opposed to the soft. Hamilton made the call to jump back onto the soft compound for the rest of the race, leaving Vettel still to stop for the hards.

A heavy crash-landing ends Petrov's chances of points

A heavy crash-landing ends Petrov's chances of points

Button pitted, and emerged ahead of his teammate. Further back, Paul di Resta put a move on Nico Rosberg, who was having a very quiet race, for 11th. Quick laps from Jenson prompted stops from Vettel and Alonso, who emerged in 1st and 5th respectively.

Vitaly Petrov was running in the points, until a bizarre crash ended his race. He ran wide onto the grass, and a bump in the ground level sent his car flying. A back-breaking landing shattered his steering column, and forced the Russian onto the sidelines.

Hamilton and Alonso soon began to tussle for 3rd place, with the Ferrari suffering from a lack of the DRS system. Fernando made a move before Turn 3, but moved out from behind the McLaren too late, and clipped his front wing, taking off most of the upper left section. He was forced to stop for the 4th time for a front wing change, and emerged 7th. Webber dived around the outside of Massa at turn 1, and moved up to 5th.

Vettel cruises to the chequered flag in Malaysia

Vettel cruises to the chequered flag in Malaysia

After his battle with Alonso, Hamilton began to lose serious amounts of pace, allowing Nick Heidfeld to catch up by nearly 2 seconds per lap. Fast pace combined with the DRS allowed Heidfeld to grab the final podium spot off the McLaren. Lewis soon ran wide at Turn 7, which allowed Webber into 4th.

A problem with his car was highlighted when the McLaren was forced to pit for the 4th time, and he emerged behind Petrov in 8th.

Sebastian Vettel was untroubled by Button behind, and cruised to his second win of 2011. Heidfeld held off a last-gasp charge by Mark Webber, while Massa led Alonso to the flag. Hamilton’s tyre troubled dropped him to 7th, ahead of Kobayashi, Schumacher and Paul di Resta, who takes his second points finish in his second race in F1.

It was a fantastic race, action-packed from start to finish, with a few surprises as well. With this, Sebastian will be heading into China next weekend well in the lead of the championship.

Vettel snatches pole in Malaysia

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. It was no cakewalk, however, as he was forced to push hard to beat his teammate and the McLarens of Hamilton and Button. Nick Heidfeld was 6th, Michael Schumacher was knocked out of Q2, while the HRT cars managed to qualify.

Q1

The moment when Buemi's sidepod came off

The moment when Buemi's sidepod came off

Despire the threat of rain hitting the track during the session, no car went out at the start. Vitantonio Liuzzi was the first out, setting a 1.43.1, which is just within the probable 107% limit.

Lewis Hamilton took top spot with a 1.37.4, with Vettel and Button close behind. The session was soon stopped for the loss of a sidepod from Sebastien Buemi’s car.

With 12 minutes to go, several cars were disadvantaged by the red flags. The Lotuses went straight out at the green flag to set their first laps.

Felipe Massa went 7 tenths faster than Hamilton on the softer tyres, and was followed by Alonso and Kobayashi. Nick Heidfeld was half a second off Massa. Webber went out again, but failed to improve on his previous lap.

 

Another look at Buemi's sidepod

Another look at Buemi's sidepod

With 2 minutes to go, Michael Schumacher was in trouble, having struggled on the hard tyres. A last-minute run on the softs saved the Mercedes from being knocked out of Q1.

Amazingly, Webber languished in 15th, while it was a battle between Barrichello and Maldonado to survive Q1, with the experienced Brazilian coming out on top. Lotus improved dramatically, getting within 2 seconds of the fastest lap.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Pastor Maldonado

19) Heikki Kovalainen

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Timo Glock

22) Jerome D’Ambrosio

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi

24) Narain Karthikeyan

Q2

Sebastien Buemi returned to the track after the loss of his sidepod in Q1. Mark Webber was back on form for Q2, setting a 1.36.0. Vettel soon followed with a 1.35.9. Jenson Button was very impressive, going 3 tenths quicker than Vettel.

The Mercedes cars went within 1 tenth of each other in 6th and 7th, with Schumacher leading Rosberg. Jaime Alguersuari went 10th in the Toro Rosso, while Petrov was 4th.

With only a few minutes remaining, Hamilton appeared to be the big-profile casualty of Q2. However, a high-speed final run propelled the McLaren up to 2nd, despite a lock-up at Turn 1, and 3 tenths slower than Button.

Paul di Resta could only improve to 13th. Kobayashi went 8th, while Nico Rosberg moved to 6th to knock his teammate out of Q2.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Michael Schumacher

12) Sebastien Buemi

13) Jaime Alguersuari

14) Paul di Resta

15) Rubens Barrichello

16) Sergio Perez

17) Adrian Sutil

Q3

With the McLarens surprisingly well on the pace, Q3 was going to be a 4-horse race for pole position. Lewis Hamilton’s first run brought a 1.35.000, with Button 3 tenths behind.

Webber was 2 tenths off, while Vettel was within one tenth of Hamilton. The Red Bulls had split the McLarens, but a fierce lap from Hamilton kept him on top.

The rest of the field waited for the last 3 minutes, to head out with the Red Bulls and McLarens. Fernando Alonso was the first of the 10 to set their final lap, but struggled with grip and went 5th.

Webber, Vettel and Hamilton after qualifying

Webber, Vettel and Hamilton after qualifying

Webber just got to 3rd place, while Hamilton improved by 2 hundreths to keep his lead. Button retained 4th place, while Sebastian Vettel went one tenth faster, a 1.34.8, to snatch pole position in the dying seconds.

Nick Heidfeld was fastest of the rest of the field in 6th, ahead of Massa and Petrov. Nico Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi failed to impress in 9th and 10th.

It was a fantastic lap by Vettel to take his second pole in as many races. There was nothing in it between McLaren and Red Bull, while the body language by Fernando Alonso said it all for Ferrari.

McLaren keep Webber honest in Malaysia FP2

Mark Webber continues to head the timesheets in Malaysia, but was followed closely by the McLarens of Button and Hamilton.

The Red Bull was only 0.005 seconds faster than Button, as Friday Practice 2 concluded. Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel were each one further tenth off.

The rest of the field were an entire second behind the top 4. The two Renault drivers missed the start of the session, as their cars were still being repaired after their wheel failures in FP1. The incidents were attributed to a material batch problem.

Jerome D’Ambrosio never went out on track after his car’s failure in Practice 1.

Pastor Maldonado briefly led proceedings, but spun at pit lane entry and hit the barrier. The damage to his Williams was only minor, and he was able to continue later on.

The only other yellow flag came courtesy of Vitantonio Liuzzi, whose HRT hit a kerb, which seemed to switch off his Cosworth engine.

Times from Malaysia FP2:

Pos  Driver               Team                     Time               Laps
 1.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault         1.36.876           24
 2.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes         1.36.881   0.005   30
 3.  Lewis Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes         1.37.010   0.134   23
 4.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault         1.37.090   0.214   30
 5.  Michael Schumacher   Mercedes                 1.38.088   1.212   26
 6.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                  1.38.089   1.213   31
 7.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes                 1.38.565   1.689   25
 8.  Nick Heidfeld        Renault                  1.38.570   1.694   16
 9.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari                  1.38.583   1.707   27
10.  Jaime Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari       1.38.846   1.970   31
11.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth        1.38.968   2.092   25
12.  Rubens Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth        1.39.187   2.311   30
13.  Vitaly Petrov        Renault                  1.39.267   2.391   17
14.  Kamui Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari           1.39.398   2.522   29
15.  Sergio Perez         Sauber-Ferrari           1.39.603   2.727   34
16.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes     1.39.625   2.749   31
17.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes     1.39.809   2.933   28
18.  Sebastien Buemi      Toro Rosso-Ferrari       1.40.115   3.239   31
19.  Timo Glock           Virgin-Cosworth          1.40.866   3.990   24
20.  Jarno Trulli         Lotus-Renault            1.41.890   5.014   19
21.  Narain Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth             1.43.197   6.321   15
22.  Tonio Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth             1.43.991   7.115   14
23.  Heikki Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault            1.44.886   8.010    4

Webber dominates by 1.6 seconds in Malaysia FP1

Webber led FP1 by a huge margin

Webber led FP1 by a huge margin

Mark Webber was miles ahead of his rivals in Friday Practice 1 for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Webber set a 1.37.651, more than a second and a half faster than any other driver, to easily slot into first place on the leaderboards. Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher were 2nd and 3rd.

Nico Hulkenberg, driving in Paul di Resta’s Force India, was 4th after a late improvement. Pastor Maldonado held his Pirellis for 19 laps to take 5th.

Ferrari had a quiet session, spending a lot of time running the cars at a fixed speed on the straights for aerodynamic testing. Felipe Massa was 6th and Fernando Alonso 9th.

Nick Heidfeld managed 7th after only setting 6 laps. After he went fastest in the session, his front right brake completely locked. The Renault driver was forced to drag his car back to the pits on 3 wheels, with a destroyed tyre, and sparks and smoke coming from under the car.

Petrov's wheel comes off in speclacular fashion

Petrov's wheel comes off in speclacular fashion

Worryingly, teammate Vitaly Petrov suffered a front left wheel failure, which caused him to spin into the Turn 9 gravel trap. Jerome D’Ambrosio suffered a similar failure on his front right, when the wheel came completely off at the final corner. The Virgin car would not complete any more miles that day.

Daniel Ricciardo took over from Sebastien Buemi, and just pipped Jaime Alguersuari to 12th.

Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel had very low-key sessions, with the McLaren and Red Bull 15th and 17th repectively. It is known that Vettel was testing a KERS unit, but it is unknown was Webber running the device. Davide Valsecchi drove in Heikki Kovalainen’s car, but was over 6 seconds off the pace.

Narain Kartikeyan’s HRT gave up on him after 10 laps, with smoke pouring out of the back.

Times from Malaysia FP1:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Time              Laps
 1.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1.37.651           22
 2.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1.39.316   1.665   16
 3.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1.39.791   2.140   29
 4.  Hulkenberg     Force India-Mercedes   1.40.377   2.726   23
 5.  Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1.40.443   2.792   31
 6.  Massa          Ferrari                1.40.453   2.802   22
 7.  Heidfeld       Renault                1.40.525   2.874    6
 8.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1.40.581   2.930   21
 9.  Alonso         Ferrari                1.40.601   2.950   23
10.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1.40.646   2.995   29
11.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1.40.734   3.083   21
12.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.40.748   3.097   23
13.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1.40.770   3.119   24
14.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1.40.872   3.221   27
15.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1.40.927   3.276   16
16.  Trulli         Lotus-Renault          1.41.620   3.969   21
17.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1.41.627   3.976   18
18.  Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1.41.642   3.991   24
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1.42.154   4.503   18
20.  D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1.42.540   4.889   20
21.  Valsecchi      Lotus-Renault          1.44.054   6.403   18
22.  Liuzzi         HRT-Cosworth           1.45.228   7.577   20
23.  Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1.46.267   8.616   10
24.  Petrov         Renault                1.47.932   10.281   4

Malaysian Grand Prix preview

Can anyone stop Red Bull in Malaysia?

Can anyone stop Red Bull in Malaysia?

The second race of the 2011 Formula 1 season is at Sepang, Malaysia. A tweak of the DRS rules, as well as ominous weather in the region, is sure to make the race unprecictable this weekend…

DRS

The Drag Reduction System didn’t have a particularly large effect on the Australian GP (not necessarily a bad thing), but with the longer straights of Malaysia, the device will have a much bigger role to play here.

The operating zone has been extended from 600 to 700 metres. Also, race director Charlie Whiting hinted at placing more than one DRS zone on the track. This has not been confirmed for Malaysia, but it is being looked at for other races.

Several drivers, including Felipe Massa, have voiced their concern over this suggestion. However, for Sepang at least, the main straight will be the prime place to pass.

As with 2 weeks ago, a significant advantage can be played to the Red Bulls, if they are able to deploy their rear wings earlier out of the corners in qualifying.

Weather

Unusually cool and overcast weather in Melbourne led to cooler tyre temperatures and reduced tyre wear. No matter what happens this weekend, the same will not happen this time around.

A tweet from Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne reads: “Lots of heavy thunderstorms around every day so the weather will be unpredictable this weekend.”

Most of the time, Malaysia suffers from searing heat of up to 40 degrees Celcius. Any other time, rain hammers down like a tropical storm.

Weather forecasters are predicting heavy showers on Saturday and Sunday. The rain is more likely to hit in the evening time, which is onimous considering the 16:00 start time for qualifying and the race.

Tyres

As previously mentioned, cool temperatures in Australia quelled fears briefly about over-wearing tyres, but the debacle may well return this weekend.

40 degree heat will have an exponentially larger effect than the 17-18 degree conditions from Melbourne. Pirelli are stating that up to 4 pit stops may be required.

That would be presuming that race  day was dry. If it is wet, then all bets are off, because nobody is sure yet how the extreme wet Pirelli tyres stand up to a full tank of fuel at the start of a race.

Predictions

One third of a lap in Sepang is spent in braking and cornering areas. This will play right into the hands of Red Bull, whose RB7 is renowned for ripping up tarmac with its unbeievable amounts of grip. On the other hand, the Red Bull is quite slow on the straights, which could hamper them on race day, if they come under pressure from their rivals.

Ferrari’s tyre conservation could prove crucial if the race is dry. A lack of race pace was highlighted in Melbourne, so strategy is what is needed to put them back on top. McLaren and Renault are the two main teams to challenge Vettel and Webber this weekend, but it is difficult to see how they can match their pace.

It will be interesting to see how Sauber fare. Their illegal rear wing may well have been the reason why they were so fast through the speed traps in Australia. If their top speed remains high this weekend, then we know they have a properly fast car.

At the back of the grid, speculation is mounting as to whether Virgin and HRT will even be able to qualify. A new front wing is being delivered to Hispania, while changes in the technical department are occuring for Virgin. However, I fear that it may not be enough for these backmarkers.

Pirelli anticipating 4-stop strategies for Malaysia

The tyres are expected to degrade much faster next weekend

The tyres are expected to degrade much faster next weekend

After a mix of mostly 2 and 3-stop tyre strategies in the Australian Grand Prix, Pirelli have claimed that they believe some drivers will need to make up to 4 stops in Malaysia next weekend.

The cool temperatures in Melbourne reduced tyre wear, which led to Sergio Perez and Jarno Trulli needing only one stop. However, the unavoidable searing heat of Sepang is sure to put extra pressure on the Pirelli rubber.

Motorsport director at Pirelli Paul Hembery said:

"We were absolutely thrilled by our Grand Prix debut in Australia, but we're aware 
that Malaysia should be a very different proposition, with  higher temperatures and 
increased degradation. We said all along that we  would be seeing two to three pit 
stops in Australia, but in Malaysia I  think that figure is likely to increase to 
three to four. They say that  it's never a question of if it rains at Sepang but 
when, so the  performance of our wet tyres could be crucial this weekend and we're 
certainly looking forward to seeing them out on track.

Malaysia will also see the introduction of a new version of the harder tyre, which will be given to the teams to test on Friday. Because of the steep learning curve everyone needs with the new rubber, two extra sets of slicks will also be supplied on Friday.

As with Melbourne, the soft (yellow markings) and the hard (silver) will be used next weekend.

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