After a first race in a semi-street circuit such as Melbourne, the Circus of F1 is ready to get to Sepang, on a permanent circuit with two straights about 1 kilometre long, medium-fast corners and quite stressed tyres. You go from speeds around 80-90 km/h out of the corners to reach 300 km/h at the end of the straight, before gearing down again in second. The car works in support and the asphalt is quite abrasive.
We are in the monsoon period, therefore track surface will be clean, but for the weekend are expected temperatures around 34 °C. Therefore, Pirelli will bring Medium and Hard compounds. It’s a Grand Prix pit characterized by 3-4 pit stops. Last year, only Force India tried the two stops, closing in fifth place with a gap of 47″, but the two Williams missed – 7th and 8th after a GP with difficulties – and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari was out of the score zone. The choice of the two stop seems too risky, although this year the tyres get wear less easily.
After passing medical exams, Fernando Alonso will get at the wheel of his McLaren-Honda and Bottas will regularly on track, having recovered perfectly. Moreover, on Friday morning our bearer will be back on track, with Raffaele Marciello busy behind the wheel of the Sauber. The cars on the grid should go back to twenty, after the Australian forfeit Manor. So the interesting ideas will not miss. Once again, there’ll be fight between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with the German driver forced to come up with something to keep in touch with the mate, without making mistakes. At the moment, in the internal challenge we are 1-0 for the World Champion. Behind them I see the advantage Williams on Ferrari, which has to contend with other Mercedes engines (Lotus and Force India). It will not be an easy weekend, where power consumption and can make a difference. After Vettel’s podium, Ferrari is called to repeat itself. But we must be down to earth. I read too much triumphalism. Let us remember that it is a team sport with developments step-by-step.
In Red Bull there is great nervousness, especially against Renault. The rumours on patron Mateschitz’ disinterest towards the F1 are increasingly insistent and the meetings between Red Bull and Renault are intensifying. This ferment could remove the focus required to recover the gap. Having dominated the scene for four years, so raise the tone at the first difficulty blaming the other teams have put in place an anti-RB policy to stop them, I do not find it correct. I clearly prefer the philosophy of Maranello when they say will win Mercedes on track.
Gian Carlo Minardi