Formula One enthusiasts needn’t wait any longer as the second leg of the series promises to be an exciting fare at Sepang Malaysia on the 24th of March 2013. The race will see, ‘Iceman’ Kimi Raikkonen who won the Australian GP try to capitalize on his standings as he goes into this week’s event. Of course the Finn picked up a penalty for impeding Nico Rosberg and now his Lotus GP car will start at 10th place owing to the three-place grid penalty.
Red Bull, Mercedes Benz and Sahara Force India who also did quite well at the Australian GP will try to better their performance as they take on the challenging technical circuit at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Sebastian Vettel did well at the Australian Grand Prix to come in third after F. Alonso and K. Raikkonen. S. Vettel will be one of the favorites at this race as he has taken the chequered flag in 2010 and 2011 respectively. After rain lashing qualifiers today, Sebastian Vettel came out on top to take pole position, with Ferrari driver Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso starting at 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
Alonso won the Malaysian GP last year coming in ahead of Sergio Perez and Lewis Hamilton. The 2013 F1 season start has been great for Force India as the pair of Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta showcased skill and maturity as they came in 7th and 8th respectively. At the F1 PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix it will be exciting to see who comes out on top as the circuit and weather conditions will test the mettle of drivers, and their cars alike. For Mercedes AMG Petronas, Lewis Hamilton will begin 4th on the grid and Nico Rosberg at 6th. For the Marussia F1 team, it’s P19 for Jules Bianchi and P21 for Max Chilton.
At the end of today’s qualifiers, Lewis Hamilton had this to say, “I’m pretty happy with fourth place considering the conditions today. The car was not too bad in the dry but the balance could have been a lot better, then it was pretty tricky conditions in the wet during Q3. We did our lap with older tyres than the guys in front, which was a bit unfortunate, but our pace was good overall so I can’t complain. It’s the second race on the second row for me and there are lots of positives to take out of the weekend so far. Our long run pace looked pretty good compared to the other teams so I’m hoping for dry conditions tomorrow.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team driver Nico Rosberg went on to say, “In the dry conditions I had a great balance today and everything went perfectly which was nice to see. Once it began to rain unfortunately we weren’t able to get the most out of the car and at the end of Q3, my tyres were worn as some parts of the track were drying and I wasn’t able to improve my lap time. We have a good car for the race and a strong starting position from the third row of the grid so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. We should have some good opportunities and will need to make sure that we make the most of them.”
Ross Brawn, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team said, “An exciting qualifying session this afternoon with the threat of the weather conditions changing. The car was well balanced on both dry compounds and the intermediate tyres, and we made a pretty good job of judging the conditions. Clearly there was an opportunity at the end to put a second set of intermediates on and potentially go faster but it could have gone either way. Both Lewis and Nico are in good positions for the race and the car seems to be in reasonable shape so we look forward to tomorrow and whatever the weather decides to throw at us.”
Toto Wolff added, “That was a tricky qualifying session, particularly in Q3 when it may have been better to run a second set of new intermediate tyres – but it’s easy to be wise after the fact. The reality today is that we have shown our trend is positive, we got a solid result with both cars in the top six and the team delivered a solid performance. We have spent the entire weekend working on our performance for Sunday, not Saturday, and we hope that we can confirm our positive trend tomorrow.”
Sahara Force India driver Adrian Sutil said, “It’s a shame that the rain arrived for Q3 because our pace in the dry had been very strong. I’m still not totally confident with these tyres in the wet and the car was sliding around in the corners with too much oversteer. I will hope for a dry race because we have a competitive car and I’m happy with the balance. The target is to try and push to the front tomorrow with a good strategy and come away with points or maybe more.”
Paul di Resta said, “Quite a frustrating day because we got caught out by the weather. We’ve looked strong this weekend so felt quite confident heading into qualifying, but the rain arrived earlier than the team expected. Now we need to see what the weather does tomorrow, but I will certainly come back fighting. I’ve got lots of new tyres, which is more than enough to complete the race and the car has been working well here so far.”
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal Sahara Force India added, “We ended qualifying today feeling a little bit disappointed. Throughout practice we have been very competitive in the dry and Adrian demonstrated that once again during Q1 when he set the fastest time. In Q2 we misjudged the weather with the rain coming in earlier than anticipated, which proved very costly for Paul who didn’t have time to complete his quick lap in the dry. Adrian progressed to Q3 but struggled in the wet conditions and didn’t feel comfortable on the intermediates. Had it been dry, I’m confident he would have been higher up the grid. Going into the race we will keep a close eye on the weather and be pushing hard to get both drivers home in the points.”
Lotus-Renault F1 team driver Kimi Raikonnen had this to say, “The car felt okay in the dry but then it started to rain which wasn’t what we wanted. We seem to lack grip on the intermediate tyres and they were what we used for the final session so it wasn’t possible to go any faster. We wanted more from today but tomorrow is what counts. We still have similar issues to those we experienced last year in the wet and it’s to do with getting the tyres working correctly. The team are working on a solution, but we don’t have it where we want it yet so we weren’t as quick when it rained as we were in the dry. When it gets wet it gets more fun, just not so fast. We’ll see how the weather is and take it from there. If it’s mixed up then we have to try to make the right decisions at the right time. It’s the same for everybody. It’s a shame to lose the three places but it is what it is. You never know what will happen in the race – especially here – so we’ll do our best and let’s hope we have the speed to get on the podium.”
Pat Fry, Technical Director of Scuderia Ferrari had this to say, “Like all the other teams, we tackled today’s qualifying with the aim of using as few tyres as possible to save them for tomorrow’s race. It took just one run on the hard compound to get both drivers through to the second part, providing various options for the rest of the session. In Q2, we used just one set of Mediums and even without the rain, I think that we would have managed to get through to the final part without any trouble. From then on, as predicted, it started to rain, but not enough to complicate matters: even though the track was wet, it was clear that Intermediates were the right choice. Going for a pit stop change after the first few laps proved to be the right move: we had to evaluate a subtle balance between tyre temperature and the amount of water on track and while at the time that can seem stressful, given the conditions, thinking back, it was relatively straightforward. If the rain holds off tomorrow, it will be very interesting to see how everyone exploits the tyres. All the teams have a few more new sets, which will make for a fascinating race”.
Fernando Alonso had this to say, “I am very happy with this position as it’s been too long since I qualified in the top three! Something I have usually managed to achieve in the race has been missing for quite a while: maybe the rain helped us a bit as we were not the quickest in the dry, but starting in the top three gives us a realistic chance of a podium finish and we can even dream about winning. In Q3, when we had seen the track was drying quickly, we had a moment’s hesitation, because in the dry, the intermediates only last one or two laps before beginning to degrade. But in the end, it seemed the most sensible choice and it worked out well. Of the past three years, this seems to be the moment when everything appears to be working for the best: performance, strategy, pit stops. Now we must see how tomorrow will turn out, because it’s always a lottery if it rains. Even if, in the current Formula 1, the start is not the most important thing, we will still try to make a good one in order to maintain position or even to try and get past Vettel at the first corner. Then we will see: our race pace in Australia and the long run here on Friday means we can be reasonably optimistic.”
Felipe Massa said, “It was a great qualifying in which we managed to make the most of all the opportunities that came our way. In Q3, we decided to stop towards the end of the session to fit a new set of intermediates and this allowed me to do a lap good enough to take second place on the grid. I am very happy with this team result, which is down to the great job done over the winter months. The car has shown itself to be competitive in all conditions, both in the wet and dry, but we must continue to improve. Today, we were up against very strong opposition and maybe the rain helped us a bit, because in normal conditions it would have been harder to aim for this result. Now we can expect a long and difficult race in which anything can happen and in which strategy and tyre management will be the key, while the uncertainty over the weather won’t help anyone”.
For F1 fans in India, the ESPN STAR Sports broadcast hopes to be better this year. The noteworthy commentary team will feature Martin Brundle, and David Croft. This morning fans were in for a surprise with extended HD race coverage ensuring not just qualifying sessions and main race broadcasts but also free practice sessions in real time. A new online portal, and F1 Companion Site for fans is to be introduced in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Free practice session highlights, driver interviews and race analysis will be highlighted in the 30 minute ‘Formula Friday’ new pre-race show with Paula Malai Ali, and former F1 driver Alex Yoong. The ongoing pre and post-race program, Race Day and Chequered Flag programs too are improved in content. Broadcast time: Saturday, March 23, 2013 Practice 3: 1025hrs – 1130hrs, Qualifying: 1320hrs, Race on Sunday, March 24, 2013 Race: 1315hrs