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Thread: 2008 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix

  1. #1
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    2008 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix

    With barely a couple of days to take stock and review the events of Melbourne on Sunday the teams have unpacked their bags and motorhomes in the paddock of the Sepang circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's one of the fastest, toughest turnarounds of the year for the teams, especially as they are all so far from home and it makes things very hard to get new parts shipped out from the factories. And after last weekend's mayhem there are plenty of repairs needing to be carried out! Whilst this may not be the biggest problem for the big boys, the likes of Super Aguri will be stretched to their already very thinly stretched limits.

    One team who will be looking to lick their wounds after their Australian debacle is Ferrari. They must be somewhat shell-shocked after their appalling weekend, and they must still have serious concerns over the performance of their engines which had numerous failures throughout the weekend. They will of course have fresh engines on hand to use this weekend, but it is doubtful whether they will have had time to fully diagnose and rectify any problems they may have in the design or manufacture of their power plants. This will be a big test of Stefano Domenicali's fledgling Team Director career. I don't imagine for a moment that they will have as bad a weekend as in Oz. But will they come back fighting and go after McLaren, or will they try to stabilise and get some healthy points on the board so they can regroup before we hit the European season?

    Arch-rivals McLaren on the other hand couldn't be in better shape. Faultless reliability, great qualifying pace, great race pace, and a lead driver who looked as fit as a butcher's dog after 2 grueling hours in the scorching heat of Albert Park. Hamilton is in incredible shape, and his driving looks as good if not even better than last year. But knowing McLaren, they certainly will not be resting on their laurels. They will be pushing as hard as ever to try and extend their early advantage over Ferrari. And let's not forget BMW, who raised a few eyebrows with their impressive pace in Australia despite a fairly indifferent winter testing performance.



    The Sepang circuit has a bit of everything. It is mostly a mixture of loooooooong straights and some very fast and medium speed corners with some tricky braking zones. But there are also a few very tight hairpins thrown in there for good measure. The surface is generally good given that it is a relatively new circuit, and it is plenty wide enough, which will come as a relief to the drivers after the bumpy, dirty, narrow track in Melbourne. On paper, the circuit should provide considerably less challenge to the drivers in terms of traction and braking stability. However, there is potentially a BIG spanner going to be thrown in the works in the form of rain. Not just your average rain or drizzle, we're talking full on South Asian tropical thunderstorm type rain. The weather is predicted to be "Scattered thunderstorms" on all three days of the Grand Prix. Apparently it has been raining heavily on and off in KL for close to 3 weeks, and it shows no signs of abating. This could mean rapidly changing track conditions for the drivers to deal with, and some tough choices for the teams in terms of tyres and set-up. Without traction control, if the rain starts to develop patches of standing water at any time during qualy or the race the drivers will certainly be earning their money!

    I worry that if it rains heavily before and during the start time of the race it could even put the race in jeopardy. I recall an A1GP qualifying session being red-flagged here a couple of years ago due to heavy rain making the session too dangerous. If they do start the race in wet conditions it will make the first two turns very interesting indeed. Having a very long, wide, high-speed run down to the first corner followed by hard braking into two ever tightening hairpins has caused lots of problems for drivers even in dry conditions. If they're trying to brake with cold tyres and brakes into those corners then the chances of everyone getting out in one piece are virtually nil!

    It'll certainly make for an eventful race if it does rain, and let's hope the race will be eventful even without the wet conditions. It certainly has a lot to live up to after the excitement of last weekend, so bring it on!
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    Last edited by Jack_Bauer; 03-20-2008 at 12:31 PM.
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  2. #2
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    I am really looking forward to this race, it should be very eventful!
    I really hope the Ferrari has better reliability this weekend, I am looking forward to a good battle between them and the Mclarens. Mainly because the small glimpses i got of Hamilton last weekend showed a driver very much in control and comfortable. There was none of the urgency that I saw from him last year which makes me think he can still get a good few tenths out of that MP4-23.
    As much as I would like to see some rain what with the lack of traction control, I really hope it doesn't threaten the actual running of the race. I also hope that if it does rain, Hamilton can make the right tyre choice!!
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    BMW and McLaren will run very strong here
    (note the speed trap speeds from Albert Park)

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    I'm very excited, it does have a lot to live up to after last weekend. Lack of traction control makes for very exciting driving. I think that it will level out more as the drivers get more used to it.

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    Just watching the live feed of first practice now. Things haven't got much better for Ferrari on the reliability front. Kimi's just pulled over at the side of the track with no drive, bringing out the red flags.

    The track was already under yellows after a nasty looking crash for DC. I think he had a puncture on the rear, lost it at high speed, then as he bounced across the kerbing both sides of his front suspension snapped loose. He must be sick of seeing his front wheels flapping about after last Sunday!
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    Felipe was over a second faster than anyone in first practice.

    Wahwahweewah.

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    An eventful first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix has drawn to a close with the Ferraris setting the pace so far with a decent sized gap back to the McLaren of Kovalainen and Nico Rosberg's Williams. It doesn't tell the full story for Ferrari however as Kimi Raikkonen's car ground to a halt out on track with what looked like something electronic or hydraulic. It certainly wasn't an engine failure by the looks of things, but still not great news.

    McLaren didn't have the best of sessions either. They were a little short on pace compared to the Ferraris, and with 5 minutes of the session to go Hamilton had a minor trip off the circuit at turns 7 and 8 and he cruised back to the pits and called a halt to proceedings. Whether that was just a precaution or whether something was actually wrong with the car it's hard to say at the moment.

    Hamilton wasn't the only one off track however. David Coulthard went off in rather spectacular fashion by snapping his front suspension wishbones bouncing over a kerb. Teammate Mark Webber fared even worse. His Renault engine blew up under full throttle down the straight and he had to pull off and then jump out as his car was still pouring out smoke and flames. Heidfeld went bouncing across the gravel at turn 8, Nakajima spun in turn 9, and Vettel had a front brake failure whilst slowing for the final corner. It was a very similar incident to the one that befell Mark Webber's car in Melbourne last weekend. I wonder if they have the same braking system as their Red Bull stablemates?

    Aside from the numerous offs there was plenty to see as lots of drivers seemed to struggle in the tight final corner. It seemed like every 30 seconds or so the director would cut to somebody getting horribly crossed up mid-corner. I think the problem is that they are shedding a LOT of speed and also trail-braking right the way through towards the apex, then no sooner have they got off the brakes they have to try and get the power down out of a tight, slow hairpin. It seemed to be that transition from braking to getting the power down that was causing balance problems for a lot of drivers. Nico Rosberg struggled with it more than most throughout the session, but finally got his act together late on and put in an excellent lap to take fourth spot from his good mate Hamilton.

    No sign of the thunderstorms yet...

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    Ferrari is running light

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    Button went fast. So did Trulli.

    I was absentmindedly following the practice on live timing.

    What's the deal with Bourdais and Coulthard?

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    Lewis Hamilton finished the second practice session of the Grand Prix in his favourite place, P1 after snatching the Friday glory from Ferrari in the dying minutes. Ferrari will no doubt sleep soundly tonight after having a clean bill of health throughout that session, and showing some blistering pace along the way. That will certainly have banished a few of the ghosts of last Sunday that may have been lingering. Felipe Massa in particular had a good session coming in second, just ahead of team leader Kimi, followed by (shock, horror) Jenson Button's Honda!

    The session as a whole was not quite as eventful as the first. The amazing disintegrating Red Bull of Coulthard decided not to make an appearance and Sebastien Bourdais didn't do anything more than an installation lap. There were still a few off track excursions from the likes of Mark Webber, and Fernando Alonso managed to spin on the exit of the final turn under power. Even more worryingly for Alonso though, we heard him on the pit radio complaining of losing second gear completely. He took no further part in the session. Under the new rules gearbox changes = penalties, so it could spell trouble for the Spaniard.

    The BMWs and Williams teams seemed to be focusing on longer runs this session, which left the door open for the likes of Button in the Honda and Vettel in the Toro Rosso to grab a few headlines. There were few other surprises on the time sheets really. Nelson Piquet appears to have closed the gap somewhat to his illustrious teammate after his woeful start last weekend, while Timo Glock appears to have gone the other way and fallen back from Trulli's pace.

    As in the previous session there was plenty of sliding and slithering around under power. The final corner certainly looks to be the one to watch on race day as that is the corner that the drivers are consistently struggling with in terms of braking stability and traction. Rosberg was again consistently messy throughout the session there, but the honours for best 'drift' of the day go to Lewis Hamilton. He managed to get the back end out at the apex with his front brakes locked, then powerslide all the way through the exit of the corner with the grace of a ballerina. It might have cost him three tenths of a second, but it looked great!

    And still no sign of the rain. Latest predictions put the chances of rain at 90% for qualy tomorrow and 70% for Sunday's race. We shall see...

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    I find it interesting that Hamilton can just suddenly pull out a lap that 2 tenths quicker than the Ferrari's. I wonder if he had been running heavy all practise to see how his tyres would go away under race conditions, then threw in a fast lap just to let everyone know that he was still quickest. Or if he was truly struggling for pace all practise and just got it together at the last.
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    Wonder if the BMWs will again suddenly turn out much quicker than the practice runs suggested.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kooper View Post
    Wonder if the BMWs will again suddenly turn out much quicker than the practice runs suggested.
    It's looking like it. Look where Kubica and Heidfeld have been in both sessions.

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    Jack, do you have previous season laps to compare pls?

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    Quote Originally Posted by faksta View Post
    Jack, do you have previous season laps to compare pls?
    All the previous year's lap times are archived on The Official Formula 1 Website

    Just select whichever year you want from the drop down box and you can find whatever laptimes you like.

    As a reference, the fastest time in Friday practice last year was Massa with a 1:34.9. They seem very even pace compared to 12 months ago.
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