Williams Martini Racing head to Malaysia with the weather firmly at the front of their minds.
Following a strong showing in Australia, the team will be hopeful of a strong race at Sepang, but know that the heat and humidity will be a strong factor in the overall result of the race. Drivers will lose up to 3kg in sweat, while the pit crew will have to suffer from the heat in their fireproof overalls in the pit lane.
As well as the heat, however, drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas and their engineers will have to prepare for the chance of rain, such as the sudden rainstorm in 2009 that brought out a red flag while Nico Rosberg led for Williams.
“Malaysia is a nice place to race, it’s a hot and humid race which makes it a physically tough one for the drivers,” offered Felipe Massa. “The heat also has a big effect on the tyres and how quickly degradation happens. These extreme temperatures means Malaysia is less like any other circuit we will race at.
“When you go to Malaysia you can never count out the weather either, there is always the chance of rain, its heavy rain too, and this can happen at the end of nearly every day. All of these factors mean the race is always exciting from a fans point of view but these changes are tough for the drivers. I’m looking forward to having a good race there.”
The layout of the circuit is popular with drivers and engineers, with a mix of sweeping corners and tight turns, elevation changes and long straights, meaning a well balanced car, aerodynamically efficient car is key to success.
“It has a really nice blend of low and high speed corners, with Turns 5 to 8 in particular getting the drivers attention – especially the bump in Turn 6,” said Williams chief test engineer, Rod Nelson of the Sepang International Circuit.
“Turn 13 – 14 is particularly challenging, requiring as it does a good deal of turning and braking at the same time, and there’s a lot of laptime to be had there. There is also the weather to think about in Malaysia as it rains most afternoons, and the annual rainfall is four times that of Silverstone. It’s always hot and humid and new thunderstorms can bubble up particularly quickly. We are looking forward to giving the Williams Mercedes FW36 a good run out on it’s first permanent racing circuit of the year.
“Physically for the drivers it isn’t easy; we have to work hard in the off-season so we are ready for times like this,” concluded Bottas. “The track itself is very nice; it has some great high speed sections which are my favourite parts of the circuit.”