Grand Prix 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

So after a fairly average season opener the mighty F1 circus roars on to Sepang in Malaysia to write its second chapter where it will hope the main headlines will be made on the track and not off it like in Melbourne. It will also hope for a full grid of 20 cars and for no one to break down on the way to the grid. There is no question that the mighty Merc will be favourite to take a result. When you've got the best car being driven to perfection its hard not to tip them for a win. Already though you have to be concerned about Nico Rosbergs sporting mental state as he was was not only thoroughly beaten by Hamilton on the track but then also took a thrashing from Vettel in the press conference. Whilst we're pretty sure he'll remember to mention Merc's Malaysian backers on the podium(remember last year?) you have to hope for his sake its from the top spot in order to stop the rot that set in about half way through the 2014 season.

Sepang has actually been a stop on the F1 calendar since 1999 with the first race win being gifted to Eddie Irvine by Michael Schumacher. Young Max Verstappen will probably have to spend the next two weeks hearing stories from his dad Jos about how in 2001 in the rain he went from 18th to 6th off the start line in an Arrows and even lead the race at one point before the track became dry again and despite some brave defending he slipped back down to 7th. Speaking of rain, its a fact that Malaysia is notorious for it and I severely doubt will have a weekend without any arriving at all even if they have moved the start time forward to avoid the monsoons. What that will do to the current pecking order at the moment I have no idea but I doubt it will throw Hamilton off course with his current form. Some of the laps he was doing in Australia were sublime to the point of being ridiculous.

In terms of a challenge to Mercedes then all eyes are on Ferrari. Their race pace was a lot better than expected and whilst still a way off you suspect from Vettel's obvious confidence and swagger at the moment that the car feels good and he expects it to get better. He has certainly show himself to be in predator mode and I expect his plan is to be sitting there on Mercedes shoulder in order to take advantage of any error that might creep in. A few digs in the press conference in order to throw them off kilter is a cheeky tactic but not one unheard of. It reminded me very much of 1993 when Prost was complaining about all the car problems he had with his Williams and Senna asked him if he'd like to swap cars for the next race. Kimi has very fond memories of ice cream at Malaysia and I'm sure we'll have some form of t-shirt to remind us all about it going off this year. It was good to see Raikkonen showing the speed we know he has in the first race but now we need him to find some luck from somewhere in order for him to get into the race. Kimi always comes to life when he has a good car and that seems to be the case here. I also think he genuinely gets on with his teammate for a change and I fully expect him to be at the very least sat on Vettel's bumper in a straight race.

The other team people will look at to challenge is Williams who do look in pretty good shape. I still have my doubts whether they will actually give Mercedes a proper race though as due to the involvement of Toto Wolff in both teams I do wonder if Merc and Williams have a Red Bull/Torro Rosso type relationship at current. I do hope I'm wrong and if anyone is going to show me I'm wrong then its probably Bottas. Unfortunately we were robbed of the chance to see what he would do in round 1 due to his back problem. As anyone sporting or not will tell you back problems don't go away quickly so I suspect we'll either not see him at Malysia or we'll see him slightly off form due to being in pain which is also a shame. The debate has already started on who will be in for him if he isn't there with the media jumping up and down at the prospect of the headlines and debate they can splash all over the place if Suzie Wolff is in the car. Personally I hope they give Alex Lynn a shot because he is lightening quick and will be a great addition to the bunch of new drivers we already have on the grid even if it is for just one race. Alternatively they might take the tactic of going for someone who has raced in Grand Prix before. I'm sure JEV has already started following the team on Twitter as of Sunday.

Speaking of the rookies they were one of the massive positive points of Australia and I'm sure Felipe Nasr has already gained a massive load of new fans from that one drive. I think his GP2 drives meant he had a lot already but those none watchers of GP2 probably expected another pay driver but had dropped that idea as soon as they saw the overtake after the safety car. Whatever the out come of the Sauber debate with Van Der Garde I'm pretty sure it won't be Nasr making way. The Torro Rosso boys lit up the weekend too with little Max Verstappen getting all the plaudits and media attention whilst Carlos Sainz actually got the business done on the track. The media loves the idea of a 17 year old coming in and being awesome in F1 so you'll hear far more about Max than Carlos but both of them are on a parr really with Sainz maybe having the edge currently. They are both hitting F1 like a hammer at the moment and it does make you think about all the other drivers they were competing with and being beaten by in junior formulas and how F1 might be a better place for having them in it.

Oh and will Manor actually turn a wheel in Malaysia? I'm sure we're on the edge of our seats to find out.

Anyways Discuss, Javelin, Long Jump!
 
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Dash Racing

Points Scorer
Wasn't there some speculation before the race that it could rain in the closing laps, forcing them to pit for inters? I seem to recall NBC bringing that point up while the cars were out on their formation lap. If that's correct, then stopping for new tyres under the safety car, despite how early it was, may have been about hedging bets for later in the race.
 

Bill Boddy

Professional layabout
Premium Contributor
They didn't know Ferrari weren't pitting until they were already on pitlane.

Did the Ferrari team bring out tyres for Vettel? It seems unlikely to me that they would have left it until the last seconds. If they did not bring them out then Mercedes should have left at least one car out, maybe they should have done that anyway.

I used to race sailing dinghies, when you get a lead there you always cover what those closest behind you do. If they tack so do you even if it is not the optimum place.
 

Dash Racing

Points Scorer
I used to race sailing dinghies, when you get a lead there you always cover what those closest behind you do. If they tack so do you even if it is not the optimum place.
Isn't the reasoning behind that to steal the wind out of their sails? It's a wonderful strategy in boat racing, I'm not sure the reactionary strategy would always be best in motor racing though.
 
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