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Formula One

Malaysia Grand Prix 2017 Preview

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Momentum? The momentum during this season has been mostly like a seesaw – back and forth between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. However, Hamilton has won the last three races. That pretty much says it all, for now. 

Needs A Good Run: Ferrari seems to have run out of steam since summer recess.

Sentimental Favorite? Ferrari with seven victories and Sebastian Vettel with four continue to be very popular at the Sepang circuit.

Challenges? As with Singapore, this track tends to be very hot and humid. Proper training and excellent hydration are a bare minimum here.

Quotes:

“Last year we had a one-two in Malaysia. Daniel and I had a good wheel-to-wheel battle, we gave each other just enough room which provided some good action for the crowd and a great result for the team.Both Singapore and Malaysia are very hot and humid races, being one after the other means you can at least tailor your training for those conditions, but it will still be physically tough. It’s also challenging for the pit crew in their overalls, they get very hot and I’m sure they also lose a few kilos over the weekend!” Max Verstappen, Red Bull driver

“It’s one of the hottest Grands Prix of the year and we are tested and pushed to the limits. We have to drink a lot of fluids because we lose so much during the race. The track is challenging with lots of high speed corners and fast combinations. I enjoy going to Malaysia. The weather is always different to Europe and takes a bit of getting used to. When you fly there you can see the rainforest which is cool. Rhythm is important around Sepang and it’s a nice feeling when it goes right.Turn 1 goes on forever, it’s quite tricky to get right. It’s important to find a good flow and keep a good rhythm. The final sector is slightly slower and a bit more technical with long, sweeping corners. This year’s cars will mean some of these bends will be very, very quick. It’s always hard to find the right balance and tyre degradation is usually quite high. You need to be early on the throttle for both the back straight and then the start and finish straight.” Nico Hulkenberg, Renault driver

“I think it’s pretty much the hardest race of the year. Singapore is a slower track with slower corners, whereas Malaysia has high speed with high loads. Again, it’s a great challenge, a great track, and when you have a good car, it’s an amazing experience.I’ve always loved the track. It’s been my favourite track for a very long time. I just love the layout. There’s no one particular race that I remember significantly, except maybe Alonso’s race when he won and couldn’t stand on the podium because he was completely dehydrated. For me, I just love the track.I remember GP2 Asia in 2008. I had the pole position in Sepang by around a second or something like that. It was a very fast time. I stalled on the grid, came back from last and almost climbed back up to first, but I was pushed out by a backmarker. I finished ninth, while the top-eight were then reversed on the grid for the second race. I started the second race from ninth and finished second. It was a weekend where I should’ve won both races but, unfortunately, didn’t. I love the track though.” Romain Grosjean, Haas driver

“The result in Singapore came as a surprise for us all – and the danger of a result like that is to misjudge your own level of performance. But within the team, our focus since finishing first and third has been on the painful moments of the Singapore weekend – why we struggled in the long runs on Friday and our lack of performance over one lap in qualifying – to learn as much as possible for the rest of the season. We have deepened our understanding of those problems and we will take that learning with us into the final races. The last race was a strong reminder that sport always has the power to surprise and defy all predictions. We have been on the receiving end of those bad moments before, and we know that they can happen as easily to us as anybody else. The result in Singapore doesn’t change anything in terms of how we approach the final six races, beginning this weekend in Malaysia. We will need to be at the top of our game on every track if we want to maintain our lead in both championships to the end of the season. The first challenge, of course, is Malaysia. This will be a weekend with great resonance for us: we have a very close relationship with the country, thanks to our friends at Petronas, and the race has given us many moments of drama and glory over the years. Our record there in recent seasons has been mixed but the fundamental characteristics of the circuit, with its sweeping corners and long straights, should mean the car is well-suited to the circuit. The weather conditions are challenging for the cars, the tyres, the drivers and the team personnel and can often complicate the overall picture; good reliability will be crucial in every aspect of our operations. But it goes without saying that our target is to deliver a winning performance to mark the final Grand Prix at Sepang – and to build on the good momentum we have enjoyed since the summer break.” Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes – Benz Motorsport

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Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.

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