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Post by Fernando on Tue 25 Mar 2014, 3:59 pm

Two weeks after a dramatic opening weekend in Melbourne, the Formula 1 circus arrives at the Sepang International Circuit for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Favorites Mercedes will be looking to pick up their second win in as many races while Red Bull recover from the fuel-gate fiasco and Ferrari will be looking to improve from what was so called an “unacceptable” performance this week from their own James Allison. Considering Malaysia’s unpredictable weather, this one should be a good one.

At the Australian Grand Prix last week, we were first introduced to the new V6 powered turbo F1 cars. Many called it a refreshing change; many called it a joke. The sound of the new cars seems to be filling the headlines more than the race itself. We saw cars dance around the track through all sessions, with the downpour in qualifying producing some fantastic driving spectacles. So as we arrive in Malaysia, a race usually tormented by the ever changing weather, we should hope to see a lot more squirming and wiggling from the new era of Formula 1.

The word “Malaysia” brings seems to bring bad memories for Red Bull. The infamous situation that left the team split at the start of last year, “multi 21″ was the order that Sebastian Vettel disobeyed to pass his team mate Mark Webber, which sparked a backlash against the, then, three time World Champion. It was alos later revealed as the final event that affirmed Mark’s decision to retire. The event caused outrage among fans and led fans to jeer at Vettel at almost every race he was on the podium for (which was a lot).

2013 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix statistics
Pole position: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 1:49.674

Fastest lap: Sergio Pérez, McLaren 1:39.199

First place: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull

Second place: Mark Webber, Red Bull

Third place: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

Luckily for Red Bull, this is highly unlikely to arise again, but it could for Mercedes, who had managed to handle a similar situation perfectly relative to Red Bull. Both Rosberg and Hamilton were swapping places through the DRS zones before Ross Brawn calmed them down. The drivers relationship will certainly become volatile if the situation were to happen again, this time for the lead of the race.

Nonetheless, the Malaysia Grand Prix, should be a spectacle to cherish. First introduced in 1999, Malaysia was brought onto the calendar to accompany Japan as the second Asian Grand Prix on the calendar. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the track, although generally flat, does in fact manage to incorporate some fantastic corners. In particular, the second to last corner involves long right hander with a wide apex, with the having to delicately balance the throttle and the brake throughout. Any lock up here can have you off the track, especially in the wet, as Sergio Perez discovered in 2012 when chasing down Fernando Alonso.

Speaking of the weather, Malaysia is well known for it’s unexpected and sudden rainfalls, often changing the outcome of the race. The most extreme example of Malaysia’s oscillating weather was in 2001. In this race, a rainstorm hit the middle of the race, sparking chaos across the circuit. Both Ferrari’s of Schumacher and Barrichello both went straight off, but managed to somehow keep the car going and eventually ended the race with a 1-2 finish. So what will this race bring?

On paper, it has to be said that Mercedes are almost guaranteed a win, as last week Rosberg showed the teams his dominating pace by finishing 25 seconds ahead of the next car, Daniel Ricciardo (although we now know it was really the rookie Magnussen). That is unless both cars suffer similar problems that Hamilton bore from the start, a problem which may have ultimately lost him the race. However we can’t simply rule out other teams. Red Bull for example, managed great pace once their engine troubles had been sorted. Unfortunately, they will be arriving in Malaysia unhappy, as on Friday, it was announced that Red Bull had officially launched an appeal against the FIA and their decision regarding Ricciardo’s disqualification after using more fuel than allowed. It was a shock to all.

Australia’s budding young driver was cheered throughout in his first race for the four time Constructors Champions who reached the podium in his home race. It was all too good to be true for the young Australian. This fortune of events fell perfectly into the hands of the McLaren’s young rookie, Magnussen. This new driver replicated Hamilton’s 2007 efforts by reaching the podium, and almost taking Alonso out within the first 100 yards of the race. It will be intriguing to see how he fares at his second ever Formula 1 race.

At Australia we also saw the first real test of the new engines in a race environment. Both Lotuses, Vettel and Hamilton all succumbed to engine problems, and it will be interesting to see how they do in Malaysia. If any of those retire in Malaysia it may just bring out some real anger. Lotus have struggled since announcing they were missing the Jerez test, and it would honestly be little surprise to see them go out in Malaysia.

Hamilton and Vettel on the other hand should expect better running, Hamilton of course could have take the victory in Australia from pole, but he seemed relaxed coming into this race. Him and Vettel will be planning to get some serious points on the board. Maybe not so much Vettel, whose title defense seems unlikely this year but more importantly for Hamilton, who is already a whole race win behind Rosberg, and with both drivers having the best car on the grid, Hamilton will need to assert his driving dominance ahead of his teammate.

Malaysian Grand Prix timetable
Friday 28 March

02:00 – 03:30 Practice 1

06:00 – 07:30 Practice 2

Saturday 29 March

05:00 – 06:00 Practice 3

08:00 Qualifying

Sunday 30 March

09:00 Race

Above times are UK time

Nonetheless, all the teams on the grid will have work to do in preparation for Malaysia. McLaren, although currently ahead of the Constructors, were fortunate enough that Red Bull mismanaged Ricciardo’s car. Ferrari on the other hand, must recover from an “unacceptable” performance, after the two World Champions finished 4th and 7th for the Italian team.
Other teams hoping to recover from Australia will be Williams and Caterham. Especially with Williams being potential podium finishes this year, they will have rued the chance missed in Australia, after both teams had a driver taken out at the start of the race when Kamui Kobayashi suffered brake failure at the first corner and rammed Massa out of the race. Marussia, Caterham’s fellow backmarker, will be looking to improve after a torrid start left both cars stalling on the grid and moved into the pit lane.

The race takes place this weekend, and it’s an early start, with the race starting at 9am UK time on Sunday.

Weather Forecast :http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/1735161

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Post by dyrewolfe on Thu 27 Mar 2014, 12:43 pm

Should be an improvement over Australia, with better overtaking opportunities and if we get wet / variable weather it should be an absolute riot.

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Post by Gerry SA on Thu 27 Mar 2014, 2:16 pm

Would love to see Felipe Massa on the podium or bag the win.

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Post by Guest on Fri 28 Mar 2014, 11:15 am

Six or seven drivers within 4 tenths is pretty interesting for tomorrow. Mercedes looked to be harder on it's tyres over long run in comparison to RB.

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Post by mystiroakey on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 9:36 am

These cars in the wet dont seem to work lol.

LH doing well so far. q1 to come soon

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Post by mystiroakey on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 10:02 am

Well done LH- Vettel came close but couldn't get his last lap in.

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Post by GSC on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 10:12 am

Tbh he wouldn't have improved. Had to nail an early lap.

Great effort from Vettel to get within a tenth. RB might fancy a wet race.
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Post by mystiroakey on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 11:19 am

Yep vetel and LH are great wet drivers..

The strategy may be different though.

There are rumours RB may go for a two stop. Not sure if that will be possible unless it seriously cools down

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 11:22 am

Mercedes have the big advantage of the better power units whereas Red Bull have the better aerodynamics but power is winning out so far this season but that may change if Renault can up their game.
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Post by GSC on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 11:40 am

Depends on the track. At Malaysia the 2 back to back straights really favor Merc. Chinas more downforce orientated.

The pace is there, Renault keep closing the gap
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Post by CaledonianCraig on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 11:44 am

GSC wrote:Depends on the track. At Malaysia the 2 back to back straights really favor Merc. Chinas more downforce orientated.

The pace is there, Renault keep closing the gap

Well I did say, during the pre-season Red Bull disasters, that they would sort things out and clearly they have done that in ultra-quick time. I am hoping to see a surge from the two Williams cars tomorrow who don't seem to operate well in the wet as they do in the dry so if it is dry you could see a charge through the field from them.
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Post by GSC on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 12:25 pm

Williams have poor downforce
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Post by Fernando on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 1:50 pm

Bottas gets 3 place grid pen & 2 penalty points.

Kvyat/Alonso = nothing.

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Post by Guest on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 2:19 pm

Williams don't have poor downforce, essentially it's a good car, not a title winning car but it's competitive. Their issue is one of their drivers is inexperienced & the other is dreadful in wet conditions. They've been desperately unlucky with the weather, they need dry conditions.

As for Lewis, great qualifying & another pole. Needs to capitalise tomorrow. RB are quick but will want a wet race, in dry conditions the Mercedes power unit advantage was evident throughout practice.

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Post by GSC on Sat 29 Mar 2014, 3:10 pm

Bottas is fine in the wet. Even Massa said it, the car is down (or up) on downforce
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Post by beninho on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 10:28 am

That will teach ricciardo for battling with Sebastian at the start of the race!

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Post by mystiroakey on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 10:34 am

Going smooth for LH so far. 

Come on Lad!

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 10:52 am

Mercedes clearly the car to beat just now. No mistakes from Lewis and brought the win home. I felt sorry for Ricciardo whose race was kyboshed somewhat by things out of his control. Massa and Bottas looks like it could be a tasty in team battle this year.
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Post by mystiroakey on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 11:03 am

I loved the fact Massa ignored the order. Good on him. He has been the whipping boy ages. Stand up for yourself man!

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 11:09 am

mystiroakey wrote:I loved the fact Massa ignored the order. Good on him. He has been the whipping boy ages. Stand up for yourself man!

Yes and from what I saw anyway Bottas wasn't exactly all over Massa's gearbox in any case and Bottas' tyres were only two laps fresher. I would say he was well within his rights to defend the place.
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Post by Guest on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 11:52 am

Great win for Lewis, nice n controlled & just needed to get off the mark. Wasn't a great race, fuel conservation being very evident. Nice TV feature showing the fuel percentages though, Williams looking quite efficient. The Alonso/Kimi duel not really sparked into life as of yet.

Is the racing better, not so sure at the moment. Can see RB closing this gap to Mercedes by Europe.


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Post by mystiroakey on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 12:12 pm

LH chilled hard once he was ahead- you could see that by his fuel reserve. Rosberg's lesser driving made RB look closer than they probably are.

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Post by Hulking_up on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 1:38 pm

Ricciardo, welcome to life as RB #2 driver.

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Post by GSC on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 2:19 pm

Same problem as before. 1 team miles ahead
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Post by Guest on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 2:33 pm

I think RB will get there, aerodynamically they are unmatched & just need the Renault package to deliver. Be interesting to see if Hamilton starts dominating the partnership now. To have any chance, Rosberg has to start out-qualifying Lewis, which will be difficult. Can see Mercedes dominating the first half of the season & only wins being shared by both Merc drivers will make it interesting for the viewer & for the championship. That's the difference, when RB dominated, it was just Vettel, whereas this season it could be either Merc driver.

As for Ferrari, I don't see that car winning much this season. The hyped partnership of Kimi/Alonso looks an anti-climax. The demanding high loading Malaysian track really showed us the limitations of some cars, McLaren & Williams prime examples, in comparison to the street track of Aus.

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 2:41 pm

Spot on John.  thumbsup 

It is clear that Renault had big problems which prevented them getting plenty of data in pre-season and they paid for that. They have begun addressing that now clearly as Red Bull have shown a swift improvement and will get better the more miles they do. The same has been apparent with other teams using Renault engines - Lotus and Caterham.
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Post by banbrotam on Sun 30 Mar 2014, 10:35 pm

John wrote:I think RB will get there, aerodynamically they are unmatched & just need the Renault package to deliver

I'm not certain, Today Mercedes had oceans of speed spare. I mean Rosberg had a poor start and still came a comfortable second. We saw last year and in 2009 with Ross Brawn's Mercedes that it's very hard to catch up. Granted they (RB) might only be a half second behind, but that's a lot

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Post by CaledonianCraig on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 6:02 am

banbrotam wrote:
John wrote:I think RB will get there, aerodynamically they are unmatched & just need the Renault package to deliver

I'm not certain, Today Mercedes had oceans of speed spare. I mean Rosberg had a poor start and still came a comfortable second. We saw last year and in 2009 with Ross Brawn's Mercedes that it's very hard to catch up. Granted they (RB) might only be a half second behind, but that's a lot

It is all about the power though. If Renault can put together a better engine package (even a small improvement) it will be enough as the aerodynamics package is top dog on the Red Bull. Remember they are playing catch-up as they had next to none pre-season data (compared to Mercedes) which is crucial as well. Besides all it needs is unreliability to hit Mercedes and it won't be Ferrari cashing in at the mo but Red Bull.
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Post by GSC on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 7:55 am

Tbh when Hamiltons motivated, like he is at the moment chasing a WDC, he'll wipe the floor with Rosberg. Rosbergs good but he's closer to the level of Button/Webber/Massa than the top 3. The only hope I have for this season is if Renault can deliver a competent engine by Europe.

Bahrain should be a cakewalk for Merc
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Post by beninho on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 8:48 am

It seems the hoped for demise of red bull was premature. Merc are clearly number 1 at present but the bulls are in second place. Maybe that double point race in Abu Dhabi could be a blessing for them. The mercantile engines are dragging up a few teams it seems aswell.

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Post by banbrotam on Mon 31 Mar 2014, 11:15 pm

beninho wrote:It seems the hoped for demise of red bull was premature. Merc are clearly number 1 at present but the bulls are in second place. Maybe that double point race in Abu Dhabi could be a blessing for them. The mercantile engines are dragging up a few teams it seems aswell.

To me on race days, it's distant second though. Reminds me of 2012, rival teams were close to RB - but when push came to shove not close enough

Vettel's best chance will be if Hamilton gets the kind of luck he got in the last race, i.e only finishes half of the next six races

I think though Lewis has grown up spades in the last couple of years and if he replicates some of the best driving of his career, which for me was in the second half of 2009, then he's gonna be hard to catch. There's now a smoothness to his performance - devastating for his rivals, because his aggressive style was the only chink they had on him

I'll never forget those who said he's be rubbish without refuelling  Laugh 

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Post by dyrewolfe on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 4:51 pm

It does seem Lewis has been learning a lot the last couple of seasons and has made a real effort to understand the new equipment on his car.

Even so I was surprised to hear his radio message, asking the team if there was anything more he could do to look after the car. What a contrast to his previous complaints about the tyres or handling!

A masterful and controlled performance - almost Vettel-esque, you could say. Wink

It'll be interesting to see whether he can impose himself on the team and make himself the #1 driver through his performances, (reliability permitting), or whether Rosberg will make a case for continuing to let them race.

As banbrotam said, I was impressed that Lewis no longer seems to damage his tyres more than other drivers and as seen from the on-screen fuel gauge, that his driving style doesn't use more fuel. He did mention this "lift and coast" style of driving into corners / braking zones, in his BBC column - apparently he's putting his words into practice.

Renault still need to find a way to let their engines run at maximum performance, without blowing up. Newey's aerodynamics can help close the gap to Mercedes, but can't do it on their own. Good drive from Seb - got the maximum possible out of his car. Absolutely gutted for Ricciardo - everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, apart from an engine/gearbox failure. Lets hope this was a blip as I loved watching him and Vettel going wheel to wheel.

Ferrari still in familiar territory, though Alonso's 4th place was as good as he could expect in the circumstances. Still, if the team can't find a way to get more performance out of the car, I think they're going to have a furious Finn on their hands, as well as a sulky Spaniard.

Disappointed that McLaren's new nose didn't bring any evident performance gains. As before, they're in the leading group, but some way off Mercedes' pace. Hoping they can at least score some podiums this season. Their R&D team really need to get their fingers out.

Thought it was great to see both Williams finish in the points...proof they can be competitive on their day. Had to laugh when Massa got the, "Bottas is faster than you" message. Its one thing when its Alonso, but a relative rookie?

Also thought Hulk did a great job for Force India. Had a relatively quiet race but a 5th place finish is not to be sneezed at.



Overall, however, it doesn't seem the technological and rule changes are going to result in more exciting races. Once again, after the flurry of the start was over, it was a fairly pedestrian race with only a few noteworthy tussles up and down the field to provide any excitement, once the podium finishers had established themselves.


I can see further calls for more rule changes, if this continues through the season. I just hope somone gaffer-tapes Barmy Bernie's gob shut if he starts ranting about more double-points races.

Someone needs to tell him awarding more points doesn't make races any more exciting, unless you're the kind of fan that gets more excited at seeing the standings change, than by the on-track action.  Rolling Eyes


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Post by GSC on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 4:57 pm

Ultimately, its a lot easier to look after the car/fuel/tyres etc when you're cruising to victory. Time will tell in that regard
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Post by banbrotam on Tue 01 Apr 2014, 5:41 pm

One of Hamilton's more interesting comments that it was his first 1-2 since 2007

I was a bit surprised, but then again not - simply because in fairness he's never been a team who had demonstrably the fastest car. Take 2008 and this is a warning sign for him, for the first few races Ferrari were way faster than McLaren to such a degree Hamilton went for an extra stop at Turkey to have any chance of getting near them

Fact is if you gave them all the fastest car, it's be a toss up between him, Vettel and Alonso and Kimster if he was bothered!!

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Post by Guest on Wed 02 Apr 2014, 10:54 am

GSC wrote:Ultimately, its a lot easier to look after the car/fuel/tyres etc when you're cruising to victory. Time will tell in that regard


He's obviously learning, maturing & being given the fastest car is undoubtedly going to give Lewis a huge advantage. Agree, being at the front makes people appear super-human, in all aspects of driving, conservation of the car & it's equipment. It was exactly the same with Vettel. Put the Mercedes or Lewis in fourth or fifth & he will suffer increased tyre wear in the dirty air & be consuming more fuel, that's motorsport & the increased demands an inferior position puts upon a car.

As a Hamilton fan, I'm not getting overly excited as of yet. I just hope he can continue to out-qualify Nico, which is essential & then having the reliability throughout the races. He can't worry to much about what Red Bull or Vettel are doing as of yet, his focus should be on himself.

As for the racing, as dyrewolfe says, I don't see any improvement. The fuel conservation to the extreme has just diluted the intensity of the racing, it's too much start/stop for me & when to push & when not too. Bahrain is apparently more demanding on fuel consumption, therefore will be interesting to see how it effects the racing.


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Post by CaledonianCraig on Wed 02 Apr 2014, 11:02 am

Spot on again John.  OK 

Any top driver thrives when given a fast car especially the fastest on the grid. We saw it with Schumacher, we saw it with Alonso and we saw it with Vettel. When you have the comfort of the fastest car on the grid it is inevitable there is less strain in the driving skill, relaxation sets in and calmness is personified. Take away the swiftness of the car and make it more of a beast to drive and you see the driver wringing the last drop of speed out of the car, breaking later, taking more risks and inevitably stressing the tyres more and pushing the reliability of the car.
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Post by GSC on Wed 02 Apr 2014, 11:04 am

Fuel conservation won't get any funner at Bahrain
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