The Key Strategic moment of the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix was the Virtual Safety Car on Lap 9, which gave RED BULL RACING the chance to split strategies with Max Verstappen pitting onto Soft tires, while Daniel Ricciardo stayed out. Verstappen had the better strategy from there, but once Lewis Hamilton retired both Red Bulls pitted together onto the same Soft tires. Due to track position advantage, Ricciardo won the race.
How did Mercedes get on in Malaysia?
There was no championship coronation for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in Malaysia after Lewis Hamilton retired while leading and Nico Rosberg had to fight back to finish third after a collision at the start dropped him to 21st place. Hamilton was up against it with Red Bull Racing splitting strategies across its two cars to challenge him, but he had enough pace on the hard tires to see them off, until disaster struck on lap 41 when his engine failed.
Three in a row?
Mercedes to clinch constructors’ title in Malaysia?
There are two variables in the mix for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix; firstly, the new slot in September can bring different weather conditions into play and secondly, the track has been resurfaced. Last year Sebastian Vettel won here for the Scuderia Ferrari, so a new track surface may offer even more uncertainty. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS can clinch its third consecutive constructors’ title if they score 36 points or more, regardless of how Red Bull Racing perform. Pirelli has introduced the harder tire for this race and that will suit the Mercedes chassis, but they did struggle with the high temperatures last year.
Race Strategy Briefing
Demanding on the cars
Sepang is a fast circuit with high-energy corners, long straights and soaring temperatures. Last year the track temperature was 56 degrees!
Last year some teams needed three-stops and there will be at least that many stops this time. The hard compound must be used in the race.
Safety car in the event of a start line tangle
The Safety Car appears at roughly half the Malaysian Grands Prix; the start is an area where incidents can happen as cars hit the first corners at speed.
A good track to overtake
Teams can plan an aggressive strategy as the track has good overtaking possibilities. There were 53 overtakes in last year’s race.
Something of an unknown
Although F1 has raced at Sepang since 1999, the resurfacing makes tire wear an unknown this year. It has traditionally been one of the harder tracks on tires.
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
October 02 | 15:00 local time, 09:00 CET
Since its inauguration in 1999, the Sepang circuit in Malaysia has come to be regarded as one of the toughest for teams and drivers as very hot and humid conditions stretch the competitors to their physical extreme. Due to cockpit temperatures of 50°C it is not strange for a driver to lose three kilograms during the race, through sweat alone. As the first of a now extensive portfolio of Hermann Tilke designed Grand Prix circuits, it follows his trademark style of long straights followed by a heavy-braking zone, which allows for slip-streaming and out-braking maneuvers. The 1999 race saw the return to fitness of Michael Schumacher following his leg-break at Silverstone earlier in the year and after dominating the race he handed victory to Ferrari team-mate and title contender Eddie Irvine. Sebastian Vettel has four wins here, with his 2013 victory proving controversial for him and his former team Red Bull as the German disobeyed team orders and forced his way past team-mate and race leader Mark Webber.
Circuit length 5.543 km
Race distance 310.408 km
Race winner 2015 Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Pirelli allocation Soft/Medium/Hard
There are many challenges at Sepang. The start is always critical here; the distinctive first corner turns right and then left and always results in a big change of field order. The intense heat and humidity of Malaysia pushes the cars’ cooling systems to the limit. If a team is in trouble, they are often forced to open the bodywork to improve cooling, which will hurt their aerodynamic performance and the stability of their car in the corners. This hurts tire life too. The Pirelli tires are more consistent than before, but this track has high-energy corners, so I think we will see two stops as the default strategy.
In collaboration with James Allen