Both Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton topped a practice session each at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mercedes on form
Once again Mercedes look to have the upper hand over Ferrari this weekend which we would expect from the layout of Sepang. We are at a different time of year its spring / summer time so the race could be hot. From FP1 we know Hamilton didn’t set a time on the fastest tyres.
The gap in FP2 was sixth tenths of a second from Hamilton down to Sebastian Vettel in third. So this weekend could once again be a Mercedes fight and what we want is a good fight I think it’s more a Hamilton circuit this fast flowing layout.
This weekend like we keep seeing there is this pattern between Ferrari and Red Bull with the teams taking it in turns to push Mercedes. Ferrari were this weekend to have the edge as this circuit plays to horsepower and that what Red Bull lack.
Sebastian Vettel said “think we had a decent day. We were testing quite a few things, and our pace didn’t look too bad, at least from what I was told inside the car.”
“Mercedes looked again very strong today on long and short runs: as for ourselves, we are pretty happy with the short runs, but I haven’t seen much yet of what the other people did for their long runs.”
Magnussen firey end
Kevin Magnussen’s FP1 ended before it had even begun with him jumping out his car as it burst into flames. But the marshals and team were soon there to put it out. Its went back on fire as body work burned.
Nick Chester said “We had a fuel leak from a breather. It looks like the tank pressurised, but we will investigate. We were running the tank full and we were running some experimental parts really in preparation for Mexico, so different set-up to the [Jolyon Palmer’s] car.”
Hot hot hot
One of the talking points this weekend will be the heat and humidity Malaysia at this time of year is in its summer time. This means we are unlikely to get rain like we are used to and with the added changes to the circuit means this is almost like a new track. Yes it has re-profiled but this should affect tyres. Pirelli say they tyres have held up as it has been the hottest temperatures in memory.
Paul Hembery added “But with the chance of different weather conditions for the remainder of the weekend, there are still a number of complex variables left to play out, which makes planning the strategy quite tricky at this point.”
Honda have brought a upgraded power unit this weekend which has shown some improvement with them looking in the mid top ten. Fernando Alonso was 1.2 seconds of the pace in P1 and seventh in P2, so it shows gains for Honda over the last eighteen month of a second and a half.
Yusuke Hasgawa said “The updates that Honda has brought to our power unit for Malaysia are focused on increasing the durability while decreasing overall weight of the surrounding parts around the ICE. This consequently helps performance, but does not lead to an outright increase.”
“Both sessions ran very smoothly, and we were able to gather track running data that we cannot test on the dyno. We will now focus on analysing the data thoroughly to prepare the power unit for future race use.”
Red Bull are on the back foot as we said we think the real battle for the rest of the season is Ferrari v Red Bull. Red Bull we expected to struggle here but we have not seen their real pace as they have not run on the soft tyres. We know Max Verstappen was complaining about understeer in P1.
Birthday boy Verstappen said “Both sessions were pretty good. The first practice you just had to build up to it, especially with the new tarmac, you have to get to grips with the car.”
“I enjoyed the new surface, it seemed to have quite a bit more grip. Before, in Malaysia, we seemed to struggle with traction but the changes they have made here appear to have helped. I also think it is a lot more fun to drive.”
This weekend the battle for pole will be as predictable as it been all season I think its Hamilton v Rosberg. Hamilton will I feel edge out Rosberg on track to take pole. But it will be good to see the battle behind with Vettel, Verstappen, Raikkonen and Ricciardo will be interesting.