Drivers brace for tough Malaysian GP

2013-03-24 10:00

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Only the fittest will survive the unpredictable conditions they face.

This year’s F1 season started controversially in Australia, when torrential rain disturbed the proceedings, forcing the qualifiers to be postponed to a Sunday, which is normally a racing day.

Kimi Räikkönen gave Lotus a perfect start to the season as he fended off the challenge of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and three-time title holder Sebastian Vettel to win the inaugural Australian GP in Melbourne.

Reigning champions Red Bull dominated the qualifiers early on Sunday but found themselves playing catch-up with Lotus and Ferrari in a race that saw Räikkönen ease his way to victory.

Felipe Massa came home fourth, followed by Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Jenson Button.

Lotus used a two-pit?stop strategy for Räikkönen, while the other drivers stopped three times to change in a season where tyre management is expected to play a crucial role.

The precisely timed choreography of a modern pit stop is vital to help teams turn their race strategy into success.

Changing tyres, replacing damaged parts and adjusting front wings in a matter of seconds is crucial.

The conditions in Melbourne were unexpectedly cool for the race, but F1 quickly moved to the heat and humidity of Kuala Lumpur for this morning’s Malaysian GP.

The? challenge in this race will be completely different to what we saw in Melbourne last week, as the conditions are tough on the drivers.

Debilitating humidity sorts out the fittest drivers on the grid and teams make doubly sure that drivers stay hydrated.

All teams are in a process of learning with the new Pirelli tyres.

This was evident last weekend, when drivers in the same team delivered very different results.

The Sepang International circuit has nice flowing sections, some slow parts, as well as deceptive, high-speed chicanes.

Given the tight turnaround time between the Australian and Malaysian GPs, there won’t be any significant changes to the cars and that’s the downside of having back-to-back races, meaning we might get the same results.

Pirelli’s tyre allocations for Malaysia are the medium and hard compounds, while next month’s Chinese GP will use?soft?and?medium?compounds.

The weather is also very unpredictable in Malaysia, last year being a classic example, when the race started behind the safety car on the wet track only to be stopped entirely at?some?point.

The wet conditions were a great leveller last year, as Alonso took advantage of Hamilton’s mishaps and snatched the race from a hard-pursuing Sergio Pérez.

And the same drama can be expected today.

But it’s tough to predict as the top four teams were well matched in Australia, barring McLaren.

Their decision to radically redevelop a car that won in the US and Brazil GPs at the end of last year, rather than opt for a natural evolution into this season, has proven costly.

But the championship is not won in the first two races, with a long run of 19 races still to go, which might still give McLaren a chance to improve their car and get back among the top five teams.

Malaysian F1 Grand Prix

Australian F1 results

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