As we head to the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend, Scuderia Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jnr and Daniil Kvyat are looking forward to returning to the location of their first ever races in Formula BMW, back in 2010.
When the pair arrived in Malaysia six years ago, it was the first time they had raced together as team-mates and was the scene of their first on track tussle, which Kvyat remembers fondly.
“What memories! The first time we went there it was our first ever races in our lives in Formula BMW!
“We also had our first nice little battles on track, driving side by side at Turns 1 and 2…! So I have a lot of good memories of us racing there, as teammates.”
Although they were participating in the Formula BMW Series at the time, it also just happened to be a F1 weekend as well, and both drivers were particularly nervous to be sharing a paddock with some of their heroes, as Sainz Jnr reminisces.
“Yes, this was back in 2010, our debut in Formula BMW. It was also during a Formula 1 weekend.
“We were 15 years old, I was nervous. Especially because it was in front of all the F1 people…”
At such a young age it was a high pressure situation to be in, but something Kvyat and Sainz Jnr would have to get used to, if they were to make it in the motorsport world.
One month after that first experience in Malaysia the two returned to Sepang, now both much improved and faster drivers, to taste the thrill of scoring their first ever BMW victory, winning two races a piece, a weekend Sainz Jnr is extremely proud of.
“Yes, our first ever wins in our Formula BMW careers… Boom!”
In terms of the Sepang International Circuit itself, both drivers agree it is a great track for making a pass on your opponent, and Kvyat feels it is an exciting one to race around.
“Sepang is an interesting track. As we already saw in 2010, the first two corners offer a good opportunity for racing and overtaking…”
The temperatures seen in Malaysia make this one of the toughest races on the calendar, but the longer straights do allow drivers the chance to catch their breath. Nevertheless, Sainz Jnr agrees it can be hard going.
“Wow yeah, I remember that last year, the track temperature for the race was 64 degrees! But it’s still not as tough as racing in Singapore…
“So I’d say Malaysia is the second toughest race, after Singapore.”
Team-mate Kvyat wholeheartedly agreed with his Spanish equivalent, The Russian commenting on how much they appreciate the gap between turns.
“That’s right, I agree, because the straights are longer and you have a bit more time to relax, it’s not all corners and more corners.”
The problem with those long straights for Toro Rosso however, is that they continue for much longer than they would ideally like, given the power deficit they are currently experiencing to their rivals, and Kvyat is well aware of this predicament going into the race weekend.
“It will be a challenging race, so let’s see what we are capable of. The only negative part for us this year is that maybe Sepang has too many long straights…”
“We should build chicanes halfway through every straight!” the Russian jokingly added.
Despite the likely hardships that will befall the Faenza based squad in Malaysia, both drivers are very much up for the challenge and are hopeful of a strong result this weekend.