McLaren Honda heads back to Asia for the next round of F1 racing at Sepang.
Get the latest from Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as we prepare to say goodbye for now to the Malaysia Grand Prix.
“After Singapore, I’m already eager to get back into the car and hopefully make it further than the first corner in Malaysia! Of course, what happened was disappointing and it’s difficult to hide your frustration when you’re the victim of someone else’s incident. I felt we had the potential to be really competitive – one of our only opportunities of the year – and it’s a shame we couldn’t bring home the points to prove it, but these things happen.
“The conditions in Malaysia will be very similar to Singapore – hot, humid and challenging for the drivers and the car. The configuration will work less in our favour, but of course we will still fight for everything. There are six races left and we are still putting all our energy in finishing every race in the best possible position we can.
“Sepang will be more difficult for us in terms of set-up since the straights require good straight-line speed and power, but this track is a mixture of a lot of different characteristics, so we’ll see how much we can make up on the slower-speed corners. The 2018 cars will definitely be faster through there, which will surely be fun to experience, and I hope we can avoid any drama and have a solid race.”
“After Singapore, I’m looking forward to heading to Malaysia on the back of a positive weekend on my side of the garage. I felt strong all weekend and we were able to put in consistent performances in every session. It’s a shame we couldn’t score points with both cars as we all felt it was really deserved; Fernando was very unlucky, but we head to Kuala Lumpur with a bit more confidence and the objective of keeping this momentum going.
“Like Singapore, Malaysia will be a first for me as I’ve never raced there before. It’s a shame it’ll be the last time we’ll be racing there for a while, but that’s all the more reason to make the most of it. It looks to be a pretty cool track – challenging and similar conditions to Singapore – but hopefully potential to show what our car can do.
“It definitely won’t suit us as much as the Singapore track did, so we still need to be cautious about what’s possible, but having watched races there in the past, there’s always some kind of drama and the risk of a shower or two, so we’ll have our fingers crossed for an opportunity for us to mix it with cars a little bit further up the field.”
Circuit name: 2017 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix
First race: 1999
Malaysia has had a long and fruitful association with Formula 1. It began in the late ’90s, when the Sepang International Circuit was constructed on agricultural land near Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and it has been a regular fixture on the F1 calendar since ’99. The track was the first to be designed and built by architect Hermann Tilke, whose influence extends to 10 circuits on this year’s calendar, and the undulating 5.543km/3.444-mile layout is recognised as one of the most exciting challenges in the world for drivers.
What makes the race special?
Extreme heat and humidity make it one the most demanding races of the year. Cockpit temperatures peak at 55 degrees Celsius, forcing drivers to focus on their hydration during the lead up to the grand prix, and teams have to keep a close eye on engine temperatures.
Bet you never knew...
The Malaysian Grand Prix is the longest race of the year in terms of mileage. It covers a distance of 310.408km/192.879 miles.
Rain is usually the catalyst for crazy moments at the Malaysian Grand Prix. We’re heading towards the monsoon season and conditions can change very quickly. In 2009 the race got underway in sunshine, but a tropical storm at half distance brought out the red flag because rivers were flowing across the track. The race was never re-started, with the result being declared on lap 31.
What we love
The look and feel of the place. The palm trees planted 20 years ago are now mature and give the track a tropical touch, added to which are the canopies covering the grandstands. They are shaped like the leaves of the palm oil trees that filled the plantation on which the track was built.
2003, when Kimi Raikkonen won his first grand prix. He started seventh, but worked his way to the front and came home 39s ahead of second-placed Rubens Barrichello.
The construction of the Sepang International Circuit was part of a wider building programme instigated by Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Bin Mohamad. The project was called ‘Vision 2020’, which had the goal of turning Malaysia into a developed country by the year 2020 and F1 was used to advertise Malaysia to the world.
Did you know?
The width of the track is 22 metres (72 feet) at its widest point.
McLaren has taken two victories in Malaysia, including a 1-2 in 2007.