FORMULA 1 MALAYSIA GRAND PRIX

Posted By F1 Fast Lap












Kuala Lumpur

Race Date:
30 Mar 2014
Circuit Name:
Sepang International Circuit
First Grand Prix:
1999
Number of Laps:
56
Circuit Length:
5.543 km
Race Distance:
310.408 km
Lap Record:
1:34.223 - JP Montoya (2004)


In the mid 1990s, Malaysia was undergoing a huge change. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's Prime Minister was determined that by 2020, the country would be a fully industrialised nation. The best way to do this, it was thought, was through the auto trade.

The nation's number one oil company, Petronas, began investing heavily in Formula One with Sauber, and Malaysia's national car company, Proton, bought Lotus Engineering. The most extravagant part of the plan however was the building of a multimedia 'supercorridor', linking Kuala Lumpur's new international airport with the capital city itself.

Mahathir ordered that a Grand Prix track be constructed too, and not just any track. He wanted to create a track that would be the envy of the world in terms of its facilities and technology. What he got was the Sepang International Circuit, and on its 1999 debut it did not disappoint.

Designed by Hermann Tilke, Sepang is one of the most technical circuits in Formula One. The combination of long high-speed straights, and tight twisting complexes make the track very complicated, but also perfect for overtaking as the track itself is very wide. The drivers love it and, along with Malaysia's distinct atmosphere, it makes for an experience unique in Formula One.


Sepang starts with a long pit straight where the DRS zone exists - it is important to get a good exit out of the last corner to gain as much speed as possible. Turn 1 is a very long, slow corner taken in second gear. You brake incredibly late and lose speed gradually as you file round the corner, similar to Shanghai's first turn but slower. Turn 1 leads straight into Turn 2, a tight left hairpin which goes downhill quite significantly. The first two corners are quite bumpy, making it hard to put power onto the track. Turn 3 is a long flat out right hander which leads into Turn 4 - known locally as the Langkawi Curve - a second gear, right-angle right-hander. Turns 5 and 6 make up an incredibly high-speed, long chicane that hurts tyres and puts a lot of stress on drivers due to high G-Force. It is locally known as the Genting Curve. Turns 7 and 8 (the KLIA curve) make up a long, medium-speed, double-apex right hander, and a bump can cause the car to lose balance here. Turn 9 is a very slow left-hand hairpin (the Berjaya Tioman Corner), similar to turn two but uphill. Turn 10 leads into a challenging, medium-speed right hander at turn 11, requiring braking and turning simultaneously. Turn 12 is a flat-out, bumpy left which immediately leads into the flat right at turn 13, then the challenging 'Sunway Lagoon' curve at turn 14. Similar to turn 11, it requires hard-braking and steering at the same time. It is taken in second gear. The long back straight can be a good place for overtaking as you can brake hard into turn 15, a left-handed, second-geared hairpin but you have to be careful not to get re-overtaken as you come into turn 1 again.

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