Grand Prix 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

The first race of the season has just finished and what a race it was. Exciting from start to finish. Nice battles. Three World Champions on the podium. And the good thing is, there is another Grand Prix in just seven days time in Malaysia!

Having won in Melbourne, Kimi Räikkönen will go into the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix leading the World Driver's Championship. His Lotus car looked as though it was treating the new Pirelli tyres better than any other car/driver-combination, managing to win the race with only two stops. Can they keep this good initial form up?

Red Bulls pace didn't look too frightening in Melbourne. Mark Webbers race was ruined by his (usual) bad start, which apparently was caused by a software issue. Sebastian Vettel finished third. Let's see if they'll be able to fight for the win in Malaysia, where temperatures should be significantly higher than in Australia.

McLaren had a poor race (as expected). Jenson Button just finishing within the points. Sergio Perez' terrible qualifying led to him finishing just outside the points. Jenson sounded pretty pessimistic after the race about short term improvements. So we shouldn't expect a strong performance from them in Malaysia. But one never knows.

Mercedes had a pretty good start to the 2013 F1 season. Even though Nico Rosberg retired in the middle of the race, Lewis Hamilton was able to qualify third and finish fifth, which in his own words was more than expected. He seemed very upbeat about the car's performance, so there is probably more to b e expected from them. Considering McLaren's early form, his switch to Mercedes seems to have worked out.

Ferrari had a very strong race, leading the constructor's championship after Fernando Alonso finished second and Felipe Massa finished fourth. Alonso was strong as usual, but it was Felipe Massa who looked really impressive. After outqualifying his teammate, he was able to keep Alonso behind him for the first part of the race only losing the battle against Alonso due to a poor pit stop strategy. They're in for a pretty strong season.

In the midfield battle it was Force India who looked mightily impressive with Adrain Sutil leading the race twice and finishing seventh after his last stint was compromised by the quickly deterioating super soft tyres. Let's see if they can keep up their good form in Malaysia.
Sauber only started the race with one car as Nico Hülkenberg was unable to start due to a fuel pump problem. Esteban Gutierrez looked rather anonymous during the race. They'll be hoping for a more competetive outing in the next race.
Williams didn't look too strong with Pastor Maldonado calling the car "undriveable" and retiring after beaching his car in turn one. Rookie Valtteri Bottas finished 14th not living up to the high expectations people put on him. Let's see, if they will be able to make short term improvements for the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Toro Rosso looked strong during Free Practice and parts of qualifying but only managed to finish 9th with Jean Eric Vergne. Daniel Riccardo, who told media before the race that he will have to "blow Vergne away" in order to get a shot at the Red Bull seat for 2014, retired from the race.

In the battle of the "new teams" it was Marussia who looked to have the upper hand over Caterham, with Jules Bianchi appearing to be strongest of the four backmarkers.

Can Kimi Räikkönen make it two out of two? Are McLaren going to be as poor as in Malaysia? Will Nico Rosberg come back strongly after his retirement? And most imprortantly: What about the weather?

I expect Rosberg to be on fire this weekend due to the predicted rain all week, however, don't rule out Hamilton, or anyone else, further down, Jules Bianchi could sneak a point, you heard it here first!
I have a feeling it will be a Ferrari win, with both on the podium.

Saying that though, I did have a feeling that Button would win in Australia.
So we know tyres were a very significant factor in Melbourne, and in very cool weather. Surely tyres are going to be even more significant in Malaysia due to higher temperatures, or is it due to a more abrasive surface in Albert Park?
Whatever, it's clear tyre management is very important at this stage, Lotus and Ferrari seem to have cracked it. RBR have the car but not the tyre management. Mercedes seem to be good on tyres but not so good on car.

Have I got this completely wrong? The cars aren't going to change too much in a week but tyre characteristics will be completely different. So who's going to get it right in Malaysia bearing this in mind?
So we know tyres were a very significant factor in Melbourne, and in very cool weather. Surely tyres are going to be even more significant in Malaysia due to higher temperatures, or is it due to a more abrasive surface in Albert Park?
As I understood it, due to the low temperatures, the tyres were more susceptible to shearing and graining.

With higher temperatures it shouldn't be so much of an issue and the super softs are in fact designed to work on higher track temperatures.
I think, just judging by the first race, the Ferrari has the all round car like last year, but a bit more better and closer.

Good in qualifying, and in the wet, race pace is on part with the top guys, tyre management is second best only to Lotus.

Really shouldn't judge on one race, but I've just done so.
I just hope we have a "normal" race, whatever that is these days with the weather extremes we see more and more often.

Three nice dry practice sessions, followed by a dry qualifying and a hot, dry, sunny race.
Throw in pole for Vettel, a two second lead after the first lap and an easy win, two or three strategy blunders for McLaren, a mechanical failure for Mercedes, and Maldonado throwing his car off the road for no reason.

Thoroughly enjoyed this weekends race, so hoping for much of the same in Malaysia :).

I have a feeling that Mclaren will struggle should the weather conditions be very hot and I think my smart money would be on either a similar outcome we had this weekend or a Ferrari dominated race :ok:.
Brogan, well that gives me some food for thought when setting up my fantasy team.


Seriously though, I hope we can avoid the deluge of rain that seems to have been ever present in Malaysia these last few years.

Could we see a back to back win for Kimi?
I fancy Ferrari and Mercedes in the wet. I am sure that over this week Lewis will be wanting to understand why Nico was sooooo much faster than him in those conditions and there will be a lot of setup and data analysis. I don't think we will see sucha delta again in those circumstances.

If it's dry, then I fancy Ferrari and Mercedes, again, but with the addition of Lotus. The warmer temperatures ought to give us performance differentials between the teams closer to what we have seen in testing.
I, like many, was surprised by Mercedes form, but I am wondering if that had anything to do with the rain that was falling when Nico was flying around the track? Lotus was also very impressive and I am hoping this wasn't a fluke like Merc's win last season in China. I would love to see Alonso, Kimi and Vettel all three fight with a shot at the title in Brazil..Throw Lewis in there too, but I think that is unlikely this season.
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