Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembrey expects this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix to put more strain on the tyres than any other circuit Formula One visits this year. Temperatures will comfortably exceed the figures reached in Melbourne and Pirelli have decided to bring the P Zero Silver Hard compound, which will be the prime tyre. The P Zero White Medium, which was the prime tyre in Australia, will be the option this weekend.
Hembrey expects the level of degradation to provide an exciting race with overtaking and varied strategies expected.
“Malaysia is one of the biggest challenges that we will face all year, and that is simply down to the nature of the track and the weather. We can expect track temperatures of up to around 50 degrees centigrade and a similar performance gap between the two nominated compounds as we saw in Australia. Our target is still for that gap to be less than one second – even though there is a whole step missing between the soft and the hard compounds that we have chosen for the race. Malaysia is good for overtaking, and that should fit in well with the characteristics of our P Zero tyres, which have been specifically designed to promote overtaking through a certain degree of deliberate degradation. Tyre strategy is going to be very important, particularly when it comes to looking after tyres at the beginning of a stint. Last year the battle for the podium places went down to the very last lap, and our objective for this year's tyres is to encourage even closer racing, following the thrilling start we saw in Australia last weekend.”
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean announced his return to Formula One with a sensational third place in qualifying last weekend but retired early after contact with Pastor Maldonado. The Frenchman hasn't taken part in a Grand Prix in Malaysia but has experience in the GP2 series and is relishing the challenge which awaits him.
“Sepang is a big challenge and it is also probably my favourite track of them all. I raced there in 2008 as part of the GP2 Asia Series and I really loved the circuit. It's nice and wide, with fast flowing corners and a lot of undulation which makes it great fun to drive. The last corner is a tricky one, but I enjoy everything about racing here. Maybe not the heat and humidity, but that's just another challenge. I'm really looking forward to it so that we can capitalise on the potential we showed in Australia. I have some good memories of working with Pirelli in the past, when I was a test driver in 2010 at the time when they were coming back to Formula One. For me, back then, this was a fantastic opportunity to drive a Formula One car again and get to know the tyres, which were certainly very different to anything I had experienced before. My goal was firmly to get back to racing, which I was able to achieve, and I am sure that this experience with Pirelli helped. Since then a lot has happened: the moral for me is that you should never give up on your dream.”