Grand Prix 2017 Malaysia Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Malaysia was the second country in Asia to be awarded a Formula One race in 1999. The success of the race at Sepang was the cue for the expansion throughout Asia of Formula One, with varying levels of success.

2017 sees Malaysia say goodbye to Formula One as the owners of the Sepang circuit sensibly believe that their finances would be better served if Moto GP provided the sole blue riband event at their circuit. This is, of course, an indictment on Formula One more than those who are rightly looking out for their circuit's best interests.

Down the years, this circuit has seen many notable events. Its inaugral race saw Michael Schumacher's return from injury only to give the win up to team-mate and accidental title-challenger Eddie Irvine, with the Ferraris disqualified then reinstated in a move that conviniently restored a title decider at Suzuka. Schumacher was also at the vanguard of the Ferrari comeback from a poor stacked pit-stop in the wet in 2001, with he and Barrichello carving through the field with their Bridgestone intermediate tyres.

2002 saw Schumacher and Montoya clash at turn one, allowing Schumacher's brother to take a win. Kimi Raikkonen took his d├ębut win in the year-old McLaren in 2003. Giancarlo Fisichella took a rare win in 2006 sandwiching two Fernando Alonso victories.

The decision to change the time of the Grand Prix to cater for a European audience fundamentally affected Sepang for a while. The new time was at monsoon o'clock in the tropics, meaning the 2009 Grand Prix was washed out half-way through. It meant a half-point victory for Jenson Button, ice-cream for Kimi Raikkonen and a "calm down, Felipe, baby" from Rob Smedley. 2012 was also wet, with the much-maligned Ferrari of Alonso holding off the challenge of Sergio Perez' Sauber when the Mexican lost time slipping off-line.

The story of the 2010s in Malaysia has been about the dominance of one man in particular: Sebastian Vettel. He's taken the honours in 2010, 2011 and amid strategic brilliance in 2015 but his most memorable victory is undoubtedly the Multi 21 race in 2013 where both Red Bull in 1st and 2nd and Mercedes in 3rd and 4th issued team-orders to stay put. Nico Rosberg did not attack his team-mate Hamilton but Vettel famously passed his furious Australian team-mate Mark Webber, who was naturally caught by surprise since he'd been told that his colleague would not attack him.

Lewis Hamilton has not found the circuit to be to his liking. It often favoured rival teams such as Ferrari or Red Bull, and 2016 saw the heartbreak of an engine failure clearing the way for Daniel Ricciardo to win the race, and Nico Rosberg to "settle for second" after Suzuka. His win in the most dominant Mercedes in 2014 remains his sole honours at the circuit.

After "losing serve" at Singapore, it is vital for Vettel that he beats Hamilton practically everywhere. Hamilton's 28 point lead is handily equal to the gap between first and second four times, meaning that even if Vettel wins five races and finishes second to Hamilton in the other, he still needs Hamilton to fail to follow him home at least once. Red Bulls and Bottas would complicate the situation mightily.

Further down the table, Sergio Perez is now level with Max Verstappen in the championship, utilising the exalted tactic of actually finishing races to reel in the young Dutchman. Verstappen, meanwhile, would be forgiven for punching walls worldwide.

Carlos Sainz' excellent fourth place at Singapore means the four-way battle between Williams, Toro Rosso, Renault and Haas is for fifth in the championship is yet again tightened. With Williams' current poor form, I would suggest that one may well be won by whichever constructor is employing Carlos Sainz for the last six races.

Whatever happens, farewell Sepang. Formula One will miss you.
sad to see it go love the grand prix & huge physical test . but i love the grand prix mainly because its the 1st race i can watch live since 16th April LOL
First of the Tilkedromes and was famed for its much maligned ability to make overtaking a lot easier with long straights and wider track.

The track has actually gotten harder to overtake over the years
I have always liked this track, think it's a strong indictment on F1 and what Bernie created that the track officials chose to move on from hosting an F1 race. Having said that though, if losing a race in Malaysia means gaining a race somewhere in Europe or the Americas then I'm happy to make that trade.
The owner of the Paul Ricard is a certain Mr Ecclestone as you are probably aware Johnny Carwash. This Mr E is not very happy with Liberty Media and is quite capable of either making sure that he gets paid an exorbitant amount to allow the race or simply saying "get lost". He might think of it as revenge.
cider_and_toast - If I did that I would be forced to class Istanbul Park as a tallest dwarf and I just can't do it.

Tilke's conventional circuits (Sepang, Sakhir, Austin, Istanbul, Shanghai) tend to be decent. His edits of old tracks (Spielberg, Hockenheim, Nurburgring, Fuji) tend to be maligned in comparison to a previous circuit but actually stand up on their own. However, it is the others: street circuits (Singapore, Baku, Valencia, Sochi), streets in all but name (Yeongam, Yas Marina) and whatever New Delhi was supposed to be that have crashed his reputation.

I think given a huge tract of land and free reign, he's pretty good at designing a circuit. He's been constrained to some mental bullshit down the years though.
teabagyokel I don't often say this about you but you're wrong about Hockenheim. He took a great, ball busting bruiser of a circuit and cut the legs off it. What's left is a hollow shell of what it used to be and can in no way be described as 'standing up on its own'.
cider_and_toast - You've compared it to the old circuit. No-one can comment on the new Hockenheim without comparing it to the old circuit.

If it was a new circuit just off some forest somewhere where there'd never been a circuit before, it'd be considered pretty good.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. There was history, there was previous exciting races and there was Jim Clark. That's coloured expectations and emotional reactions.

By 2001, Hockenheim wasn't the old circuit anyway. It was frankly just straights and chicanes. It was such a test of driver skill that Ralf Schumacher won it and Mika ****ing Salo had a FIFTY moment.

I like the circuit.
ive never liked the butchered hockenheim, I loved the old circuit only saw it 3 times but it was brilliant high speed like Monza & so scenic them blasting through the forest, yes being Schumacher fans didn't help but I think this really did contribute to downturn in german gp

I love sepang as got so many great memories of races down the years & the torrienital rain always spiced it up remember was 2009 when they needed a boat not a car it was that bad, then you have it as toughest physical challenge on the calendar, what a difference 12 months make as he left Malaysia engine failure that cost him the championship, yet now he arrives in Malaysia having likely being hand the championship by vettel & I don't know if its just me but I'm more excited about the circuits we go to post summer break than pre summer break, there all belters Spa Monza Singapore Japan USA Mexico Brazil. they all have some fantastic stories.
Ah yes, 2009.

Introducing a new, untested ticketing system for the biggest event of the year without trying it out on a smaller event first. When the ticket agency told me that I said that it would not work; they said that it would and indeed it didn't. I left the UK with no tickets, luckily the internet was available from the tourist office in KL where I could learn how to be united with them once I realised that they had told me to go to the wrong ticket office at the circuit.

Being told that I was not allowed to take my food and water (in a country where they left bottles of water in the hotel rooms) so that they could charge me the earth for necessities. Saturday and Sunday I hid them at the bottom of the rucksack under the camera, binoculars and the waterproofs, it was busy enough for them to give up on the search before they got down to the food and water.

Unfortunately they could never manage to persuade the locals that it was worth going despite virtually giving them away. This turned out to be a blessing since when the rain started on race day I discovered that the seat that I was in was sufficiently forward enough to not be protected from the weather but the stand next door which was for Malaysians only was easy to break into.

Returning from the circuit on Friday and Saturday in thunderstorms. Sunday was different, instead of the bus going straight to the exchange point to drop off for the bus to the train it went all the way round the circuit in near total blackness, stopping at every gate out of the circuit despite having been full from the first. Everywhere was just a field of sticky mud.

Despite all this it was a great weekend with dirt cheap transport to and from the circuit. It will be missed.
A breakfast Grand Prix. Excellent.

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