Motorsports Mondial

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix Preview

Paul Di Resta on Sepang

Paul, you got your season underway with a point in Melbourne – do you think you can deliver a repeat performance in Sepang this weekend?

That will certainly be the aim. We picked up a point in Melbourne at the very last moment, but we were quite fortunate with the way the last lap unfolded and so it was a nice surprise. As I said after the race, we struggled for consistent race pace in Melbourne and it will be interesting to see if we can improve on that this weekend on a circuit with very different characteristics.

How have you spent your time between the two races?

I left Melbourne on Sunday night because it was important to get to Malaysia and start acclimatising as soon as possible. Sepang will be a tough fitness test and I’ll see how well the work over the winter has prepared me. I definitely feel in good shape at the moment.

Would you say the Malaysian Grand Prix is the most physically demanding race of the season?

It’s up there alongside Singapore as one of the toughest races of the year, simply because of the heat and humidity. While you are driving it’s not too bad because you get some air flow through the car, but you really feel the heat when you’re sitting in the car in the garage with the heat soak from the engine and the tyres. That’s when you’re most uncomfortable in the cockpit.

Nico Hulkenberg on Sepang

Nico, what better way to put a disappointing race behind you than by getting back in the car just five days later…

I’m glad that we have back-to-back races because I just want to get back in the car. Seeing how the race developed it was frustrating not to be out there fighting for points, but it wasn’t meant to be. I’m now fully focussed on Malaysia because there’s no point thinking about what might have been.

Do you feel you have to make up some lost ground in Sepang because of your lack of mileage in Melbourne?

The way the Melbourne weekend unfolded means that there are still a lot of questions to which I don’t know the answers yet. That’s because I didn’t do the usual heavy fuel runs in the wet on Friday and I didn’t get a feel for the performance of the tyres over long runs. All I can do is rely on the feedback from Paul and his race data, and try and learn as much from that.

Tell us your thoughts about the Sepang circuit?

The lap has a nice variation of high and low speed corners and there are two long straights. So you have to find the right balance between top speed and having enough downforce for the corners. The high temperatures and the track surface also result in quite high tyre degradation so it’s important to find a race set-up that is quite easy on the tyres.

Pedro de la Rosa: “Our two main priorities for Malaysia are to have DRS and improve the power steering in this short time that we have whilst being away from Europe. In Australia we were only able to complete 7 timed laps so I need get more track time, get to know the car better and improve the set-up. If we can achieve this then we could have a good Grand Prix. Sepang is probably the toughest track of the year both for car and driver. Mechanically it’s very demanding because besides there being a lot of consecutive high-speed corners it is very hot and humid. Cooling is key for the car as is hydration for the driver”.

Narain Karthikeyan: “It wasn’t an easy first weekend for us in Melbourne but the team is working hard and we hope to complete the maximum amount of kilometres with the new car so that we can have it in prime conditions for qualifying and the race. The team is working on solving the reliability issues that we encountered, so I’m confident that things will go better in Malaysia. Sepang is a circuit that I like a lot and a place where I have raced numerous times. This was the only Grand Prix out of the eight that I took part in last year that I didn’t finish, so this year I’m looking to firstly qualify and then finish the race, that is the main objective”.