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2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

Mar 21, 2013, 3:38 PM EDT

The sun sets behind the pit building at the Sepang International Circuit, ahead of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix Reuters

The 2013 Formula One season got off to an exciting start in Australia last weekend, with Kimi Raikkonen claiming the win following a great display of tire management and strategy. Although Lotus were pleased with his pace, they will undoubtedly be wary of Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and even Force India heading to the hot and humid Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. With rain forecast, could we see another surprise?

Malaysian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Lotus out to present their championship credentials

Although Kimi Raikkonen’s win in Australia was a display of sheer class and composure, many considered the biggest factor in his win to be the Pirelli tires. In terms of raw pace, Ferrari and Red Bull are the teams thought to be in the running for the win in Malaysia following strong double finishes. Romain Grosjean may have struggled in the other Lotus, but Raikkonen did set the fastest lap of the race in the dying stages. The E21 is a quick car, so expect Lotus to run strongly in Malaysia.

Ferrari and Red Bull vying for their first win

Ferrari’s double-score in Australia was impressive, and the Sepang circuit is a favorite of Fernando Alonso, so the team will be hoping to continue their pace from the last race. Red Bull were impressive in qualifying, and should the forecast rain strike they may be in the running for the race win. Once they tame the Pirelli tires, both teams should be able to match Lotus for pace.

Mercedes hoping for better

Nico Rosberg said before qualifying that if it was a wet session, he would ‘definitely’ be on the front row: he qualified sixth, and eventually retired from the race. Lewis Hamilton also struggled to match the front runners, finishing a full 45 seconds behind Raikkonen at the front. If rain hits Sepang, the Silver Arrows could challenge Lotus, Ferrari and Red Bull, but their dry running will have to improve if they are to battle for the championship this season.

Just how far back are McLaren?

Australia was a disaster for McLaren, scoring just two points and finishing as the sixth-quickest team. Jenson Button insists that fixing the MP4-28 will be no easy job, but this is where the Malaysian weather could come to their rescue. Last year, Ferrari were in a similar position to McLaren, and Alonso took a superb win during a wet Malaysian Grand Prix. The rain could come to McLaren’s rescue, although it does present the question: are Button and Sergio Perez on par with Alonso?

Sutil keen to star once again… but could di Resta spoil the party?

Adrian Sutil’s stint in the lead of the Australian Grand Prix was the biggest surprises of the weekend. Having spent a year out, he showed few signs of rustiness, and had it not been for the super-soft tires he could have finished in the top five. Force India’s pace was underlined by Paul di Resta, who finished in P8 ahead of both McLarens. If the rain does shake things up this weekend, Force India could be the biggest beneficiaries.

Track: Sepang International Circuit, Sepang (5.3km)
Laps: 56
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:34.223 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2012 Winner: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2012 Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen – 1:40.722
DRS Zones: Main straight (T15 to T1); T14 to T15

Friday – Free Practice 1: 10:00am local/22:00pm ET (Thursday)
Friday – Free Practice 2: 14:00pm local/2:00am ET
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 13:00pm local/1:00am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 16:00pm local/4:00am ET
Sunday – Race: 16:00pm local time/ 4:00am ET

  1. apexassassin - Mar 21, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    This will be the 15th running of the Malaysian Grand Prix. In the 14 events to date, the driver in pole position has gone on to win the race on seven occasions. Last year’s winner Fernando Alonso started the race from eighth on the grid, the furthest back a winner has started in the history of the race. Kimi Raikkonen won the 2003 event from seventh position. Alonso has also won the Malaysian Grand Prix with three different teams – Renault in 2005, McLaren in 2007 and Ferrari last year. This is also Alonso’s 200th grand prix.

    With extreme rain predicted, will the Merc be fast again? It was clearly fast in Melbourne on the Inters.

    FP1 in 90minutes, I can hardly wait! :)

  2. manofadvntr - Mar 22, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Dear Sirs,
    I was looking for the broadcast of FP1! I could not find FP1 broadcast on any NBC Network Property!
    I was satisfied and enjoyed the Australian FP1, FP2, Quali and Race. Thank you.
    NBC gave me all expectations that future F1 Race weekends would have a similar level of coverage and broadcast.
    I am very disappointed that FP1 was not broadcast. The singular reason I registered on the NBC Sports Site is because NBC is the U.S.A. Home of F1.
    I do not need to watch NBC or view this site for F1 viewing, news and information.
    You have one more chance during the upcoming F1 China weekend to keep Me as an NBC Network viewer and an NBC Sports site user.
    Please step it up!
    Thank You,

    • apexassassin - Mar 22, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      I’ve already been watching FP1 and FP3 elsewhere and to avoid the tape delay of FP2 in melbourne.


  3. dustonf1 - Mar 22, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Please read these! NBC many are forced to pay for complete coverage, negating the need to watch your broadcasts. Your lack of coverage is forcing the true fan base out of the grasp of you advertisement. Mistake.

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