Grand Prix 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
Someone other than Vettel is leading the Championship!

It may be strange to see, but for the first time since Abu Dhabi 2010 someone other than Sebastian Vettel is top of the Championship after Jenson Button won the Australian Grand Prix in commanding fashion with Vettel second and a folorn Hamilton falling foul of a safety car which allowed the German through.

Going into Malaysia it seems apparent that Mclaren have the strongest car as they were far and away the strongest team in Australia and it was only after having to fuel save for 90% of the race that let Red Bull get within distance, when Button and Hamilton were at full throttle for the first 8 laps, they pulled away at over a second a lap which provided a comfortable cushion even though it was wiped out by a safety car due to Vitaly Petrov breaking down on the main straight.

But the Australian Grand Prix raised more questions than it did provide answers, the only thing that we learned was that the not quite so new teams are still as bad as they were last season and Mclaren and Red Bull are the two fastest teams. Ferrari had a shocking qualifying but Fernando Alonso managed to drag it kicking and screaming into 5th place which suggests a better race pace compared to qualifying pace while beleaguered Felipe Massa trundled around in midfield like he was on a Sunday drive in the Australian parks.

lotus are the only team where a question mark still remains about the general competitiveness. Roman Grosjean qualified a remarkable third but was taken out early on by Maldando while returning champion Kimi Raikkonnen failed to get out of first qualifying but managed to fight through the field to finish a very strong seventh which suggests that they do have a strong car but need to ally qualifying with race pace if they are to take the fight to the top teams.

In 2011 Malaysia was a race full of pit stops due to the high degradation of the Pirelli tyres, and while the tyres this year are more conservative and stable, high degradation is still to be expecting and several pit stops are going to be the norm with an unpredictable weekend to come. The only thing to expect is the likelihood of a massive shower at some point during the weekend which would no doubt spice things up.

For Galahad's excellent circuit write up, see here http://cliptheapex.com/pages/sepang-international-circuit/
 

downforce

Race Winner
Australia was a good race but it didn't get close to answering all the questions.

Firstly McLaren were under fueled for most of the race as we know, and in that position their race pace seemed equal with Red-Bull, so how much more race pace will they have with enough fuel?

Webber outqualified Vettel when Vettel had KERS and he did not. When he was in clean air his race pace looked really good. Can he repeat that and challenge Vettel?

Schumacher and Grosjean outqualified Red-Bull, if they hadn't made mistakes it seems fair to say Rosberg and Raikkonen would have as well. Now Mercedes do no have the race pace to mix it up with the Bulls but Lotus very much do seem to but due to the cicumstances we didn't get to see that. Grosjean out on lap 2 and Raikkonen starting 17th.

If all 4 lotus and Mercedes drivers qualify ahead of Red-Bull and McLaren put the right amount of fuel in, its going to be a very interesting race indeed.
 

gethinceri

Daniil Kvyat Fan. Alfa Romeo Fan.
Contributor
Very different circuit characteristics at Malaysia.
Teams will get possibly more dry running practice which will give a different grid.
The turn one midfield squeeze should be behind the "normal" pecking order.
Whoever finishes lap one in P1 will take the top step.
 
O

OnTheLimit

Guest
Should be a good one and i think we could see a surprise driver on pole. The Renault was quick at Aus as Grosjean demonstrated by qualifying third and im backing Kimi for pole and win here :yes:

I'm a little fearful for Ferrari even with Alonso at the wheel, if they cant sort out the issues their having such as lack of traction...they could be swamped here. Still back Alonso for a top 6 finish but its going to be tough with Lotus/Williams/BMW and Merc breathing down his neck.

How Red Bull and Mclaren perform is anyone's guess, my gut feeling is Mclaren will fall back a little due to the characteristics of the circuit but we'll see what happens in a few days time i guess :)
 

soccerman17

Race Winner
I'm going with Mark Webber for pole if he gets KERS this time around. He's certainly much better off without the blown diffuser.
As for the race though Jenson Button will win again.
 

Westy

Pole Sitter
As indicated above, this track is quite a different beast. The cream will rise to the top once again and I see the Red Bulls and Mclaren being the teams to beat when all is said and done. Seb showed that he is a true racer and not affraid to mix things up.

Lotus will be the spoiler for the top two teams. Grosjean will be looking to make up for his appalling first lap in OZ and Kimi will be on a charge.

Podium as I see it-
1.Seb
2.JB
3.Kimi
 

chreden

Podium Finisher
Contributor
There's two big straights at Sepang - as long as Mercedes can keep up around the twisty bits in qualifying their super DRS could see them getting a decent spot on the grid.
 

jez101

Bookies drive nice cars because of people like me
Contributor
There's two big straights at Sepang - as long as Mercedes can keep up around the twisty bits in qualifying their super DRS could see them getting a decent spot on the grid.
I think you are right, they will qualify well, but with their tyre problems and this being the hardest track on tyres (last year at least), how they will race is anyone's guess.

Unlike last year, we will have the mediums with the hard tyre (which is also quite different this year I think looking at Barcelona testing). The pitstop cost was 24.7s including in and out lap time lost so I think teams will be pretty keen to do 3 stops or less even if that means a bit of trundling around being careful rather than trying to undercut too early - which is what started Lewis' problems last year.

If Mercedes and Ferrari again struggle, the teams that seemed easiest on their tyres in Melbourne (Lotus, Sauber and Williams) may again stand to gain. Paul di Resta was also saying that they thought they would do better in Malaysia as they were undercooking their tyres in Oz.

Then again, it might rain - what's the official prediction, Jos?
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
In general, rather than just in Malaysia, if Mercedes can get between McLaren and Red Bull in qualifying then that could create the buffer to allow the McLaren boys to disappear - as in Australia. Be interesting to see if that pattern repeats.
 

downforce

Race Winner
In general, rather than just in Malaysia, if Mercedes can get between McLaren and Red Bull in qualifying then that could create the buffer to allow the McLaren boys to disappear - as in Australia. Be interesting to see if that pattern repeats.
Thats what I've been thinking. If qualifying pace in Melbourne was genuine for the top teams, then Mercedes will be a short term buffer ahead of Red-Bull at the start of races while McLaren build a bit of a gap. Short term becuase of their tyre degradation, Red-Bull should clear them at the first round of pitstops.

Then they have the long term buffer of Lotus to deal with later in the races.
 

MCLS

Anti F1 fan
Valued Member
McLaren reckon their car is better in the fast corners than the slow corners so they reckon they'll be even faster this weekend, be interesting to see if that's true or not.
 

Bushi

Pole Sitter
McLaren reckon their car is better in the fast corners than the slow corners so they reckon they'll be even faster this weekend, be interesting to see if that's true or not.
Hope it's not, otherwise it's gonna be between Button and Hamilton for the championship.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff member
What I've found amusing is how many people found the race last weekend boring.
Some of those same people found the 2011 Australian GP far from boring, even though it was won at a canter by Vettel from pole.

Funny that ;)

Personally I though last weekend had tension all the way to the end, with a change of lead possible right to the last lap, unlike last year when there was a gap of +20 seconds between 1st and 2nd and a further 10 seconds from 2nd to 3rd.

More of the same this weekend please.
 

Bushi

Pole Sitter
What I've found amusing is how many people found the race last weekend boring.
Some of those same people found the 2011 Australian GP far from boring, even though it was won at a canter by Vettel from pole.

Funny that ;)

Personally I though last weekend had tension all the way to the end, with a change of lead possible right to the last lap, unlike last year when there was a gap of +20 seconds between 1st and 2nd and a further 10 seconds from 2nd to 3rd.

More of the same this weekend please.
It was a more entertaining race, but tension till the end.... i disagree on that one. After the safety car came in, Button was 3sec. ahead of Vettel in the first lap. Vettel put in some fast laps, but immediately after that Button wiped that away with his fastest lap.
 

Johnny Carwash

Champion Elect
Contributor
Looking forward to the Malaysian GP this weekend to see if the race at Australia was a one off for Mclaren or that they really do have a fast car at a track with different characteristics to the track at Albert Park.
 
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