Following from victory in Australia, Mercedes AMG Petronas head to Malaysia with the goal to return to the top step of the podium.
There is a strong chance that Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg, who took victory in Australia, could put their cars at the sharp end of the field this weekend, with both drivers scoring their first podiums for the Mercedes team at Malaysia, Rosberg in 2010 and Hamilton in 2013.
“Malaysia is a stunning country and I always enjoy coming here,” admits Hamilton, who retired from the Australian Grand Prix after just two laps with engine problems. “The fans are fantastic and it also forms one of three home races for the team alongside Germany and Great Britain. We have some exciting events planned with Petronas during the days building up to the race weekend so it will be a busy week but a lot of fun. I finished second on my Formula One debut here in 2007 and have been on the podium at the last two Malaysian Grands Prix but I’ve yet to win here. It would be amazing to stand on the top step at one of our home races and I’m looking forward to bouncing back after a tough weekend in Australia.”
Rosberg, on the other hand, believes that while a lot of focus will be on the weather, which often plays a major part in Malaysian Grand Prix, reliability will still be key to a strong result in this early stage of the season.
“Normally the weather is seen as the biggest challenge here but this season is different, with reliability the focus of everyone’s attention,” offered Rosberg. “Of course, it will still be hot, humid and probably wet at some stage too, so it should be a fascinating weekend. Australia was the perfect start to my season, but it also highlighted that we’re not 100% there yet in terms of reliability. We’ve had two weeks before this race to identify all the things that we can do better, so hopefully we can bring both cars home for a good result this weekend and continue our strong start to the year.”
One of the biggest challenges ahead of the drivers is the humidity, with physical preparation incredibly important before heading out to compete.
“During my first race here in 2007 I didn’t have a drinks feed available during the race, so by the end I was totally exhausted and had lost about four kilos in weight,” explains Hamilton. “As a driver it’s a weekend you have to be well prepared for physically, as it can be very easy to lose concentration towards the end of a long race in these conditions. Then there’s the rain which, when it comes, is just incredible. In a matter of minutes you can find yourself at the centre of a monsoon, which adds to the challenge.”
“The first race in Australia left us with mixed emotions,” concluded Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, Toto Wolff. “Neither of our drivers put a foot wrong all weekend but unfortunately only one came away with the result he deserved. We know that reliability will be crucial to this long season and we have been working hard to improve the situation for the race in Malaysia. We made a solid start to the year in Melbourne, but we are very aware that not one percent of effort can be dropped if we are to remain competitive.”