After Pedro de la Rosa narrowly missed out on a points finish in Australia, Sauber are now looking ahead to Malayasia for the third round of the Formula 1 season this weekend.
De la Rosa is a big fan of the circuit in Kuala Lumpa and recognises it as one of the toughest races on the calendar for the drivers. “The Sepang circuit is one of my favourite tracks. It has a lot of rhythm with many flowing corners which reminds me a little bit of the Circuit de Catalunya. The track in Malaysia is physically extremely demanding, especially because of the humidity and the heat. I like driving there a lot! It is important to be fit for there. For a driver it is by far the toughest race on the championship calendar and it is also very demanding on the car.”
“I think if you are quick there you are quick everywhere, and, as I said before, it is a bit like Barcelona and both are very representative of what we find at other circuits. This means it is a good test bench for the drivers and the cars.”
Kamui Kobayashi will be racing at Sepang for the first time in Formula 1, but has raced at the circuit before in the lesser formulae. “I have good memories of Sepang as I won a GP2 Asia race there in 2008. It is a pretty nice track – I like it. The heat is tough, but that's the same for everybody. I don't mind the heat, but I hope we don't get the same weather as during last year's Grand Prix when the race had to be stopped because of the heavy rain. Malaysia is not too far from Japan and, hopefully, I will meet some Japanese fans there.”
“The last corner before the main straight is my favourite. You have to brake very hard and get the corner right to accelerate down the straight. It has a lot of influence on the lap time, because if you don't get this one right you really pay for it.”
Sauber technical director Willy Rampf says Malaysia holds many challenges for the teams. “Sepang is a very demanding circuit which asks a lot from the chassis and the set-up. It has corners with very quick changes of direction in which stability is crucial. At the same time you need good traction to accelerate out of the slow corners, which in some cases lead uphill. The right hander before the back straight is especially tricky with its tightening radius.”
“We expect ambient temperatures of around 35 degrees Celsius and accordingly track temperatures over 40 degrees. Therefore you have to take care of the cooling, and this is something you also have to take into account for the set-up to avoid excessive tyre wear. The weather is rather unpredictable with the chance of rain in the late afternoon high, which certainly would make for an exciting race.”