This time, the two Renault R.S.16 drivers will be tackling a permanent track in the shape of the Sepang International Circuit, located close to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and boasting a challenging and enjoyable layout.
It’s a modern circuit. It’s nice and flowing with a couple of long straights, some fast corners and big braking zones. There are several good overtaking opportunities, too!
As in Singapore, the drivers will have to contend with hot and humid conditions, with their physical fitness due to go under the microscope as they are strapped inside the cockpit for a gruelling two-hour race. Not that Magnussen is unduly concerned. After all, the Dane successfully endured an extreme experience in the last grand prix a fortnight ago.
I didn’t have any water at all during what was one of the hottest races of the season. That was clearly far from ideal, but I got through it and tried to put it to the back of my mind and concentrate on the task at hand – and that paid off!
It is not only the drivers that will be put to the sternest of tests in Malaysia, either.
Tyre preservation will be pivotal.
To manage this aspect, a new factor will need to be taken into account. Traditionally, Sepang has been a very smooth track, which obviously helps. However, this year, the circuit has been resurfaced which will hopefully make it even better. We’ll be able to get to grips with it in free practice. The circuit requires a reasonable high-speed balance but, at the same time, low-speed braking stability and traction are equally important as well. In keeping with the track design, car set-up at Sepang calls for a careful compromise.
Bob Bell, Renault Sport Formula One Team Chief Technical Officer
With its flowing layout composed of a series of medium and high-speed corners, the opportunities to recover energy through the car’s hybrid braking technology at Sepang are distinctly limited. By contrast, the system of energy recovery from the exhaust gases will be very busy. Indeed, it is one of the most demanding circuits on the F1 calendar in this respect.
Overall, the Malaysian Grand Prix is eagerly anticipated by the whole team.The faster circuits suit us better, and we should be able to make full use of the small power unit and mechanical upgrades that we introduced for the first time in Singapore.
Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul