2006 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix
Download the NewsOnF1.com
4 perhaps 5 competitive teams ?
It will be a surprise if all 5 teams are also competitive in Malaysia. Some of the cars may be suited to the Bahrain track more than the Malaysian track and vice versa. There is the question of the engines running for the second race and the question of how much of an advantage did Ferrari, Honda and Toro Rosso gain from testing at Bahrain earlier this year. There is also the weather.
Sepang (track layout)
is a high downforce track with a number of medium to high speed corners and 2 main straights. The surface has a medium grip level
and is quite abrasive. The high temperatures and humidity will not only be a test for the drivers but also the engines with most
cars running the same engine run in Bahrain.
Then there is the weather factor. With thunderstorms always a possibility this time of the year, both qualifying and the race could be affected.
It will be an interesting race!
Here is a team by team preview:
Renault: Won the race in Bahrain. They confirmed their pre-season testing pace. They have been strong in Malaysia in the
past so expect them to be strong again this weekend. Reliability could be an issue after Fisichella retired in Bahrain.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso started the 2006 in the perfect way by winning the first race. If his engine is reliable, he will be one of the favourites (if not the favourite) for this race.
Giancarlo Fisichella had a problem losing power in Bahrain before retiring with a hydraulic failure. Last year he struggled with his tyres in Sepang. He needs to score good points here. A podium finish is possible.
McLaren: Managed to finish both cars which was a surprise to many. The car is fast and is capable of winning races but
there will be a question mark on whether the Mercedes engine can last 2 races especially in the Malaysian heat.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen drove an impressive race in Bahrain starting from the back of the grid to finish 3rd. If his engine lasts, he would be fighting for the race win.
Juan Pablo Montoya had a disappointing race in Bahrain especially when compared to Raikkonen. He needs to bounce back in Malaysia. Podium possible.
Ferrari: They were very competitive in Bahrain and Michael nearly won the race. It remains to be seen whether their
pre-season test in Bahrain gave them an advantage at this track. They didn't do too well in Malaysia last year so they may not be as
Drivers: Michael Schumacher had a good race in Bahrain and tried his best and nearly managed to win the race. He likes the Sepang track and if he has a chance he will be fighting again for the win.
Felipe Massa impressed in qualifying but lost it in the race. He was very close to Michael in Bahrain and if he stays close to Michael his confidence will benefit. Podium possible.
Honda: They were reasonably quick in qualifying but struggled a bit in the race. The team still needs to work on their
race strategy and on their starts!
Drivers: Jenson Button lost many positions at the start but managed to recover by the end of the race. Given that he lost a few places, the team should have tried playing with his race strategy a bit to try and move him up a few places. A points finish is possible.
Rubens Barrichello looked slower than Button all weekend and in the race had a gearbox problem that slowed him down. He needs to be much closer to Button. Points possible.
Williams: They seem to have the race pace with their drivers setting very competitive lap times. They have been strong in
Sepang in the past and could be the surprise of the race.
Drivers: Mark Webber drove a good race in Bahrain after dropping a couple of places at the start and didn't have a clear track for much of the race. He could be the surprise of the race and finish on the podium.
Nico Rosberg impressed in Bahrain after having to make an early pit stop. He went on to finish behind his team-mate. Malaysia will be much more difficult for Nico as he has never raced on this track. Points possible but difficult.
Red Bull: Despite their problems in pre-season testing, Red Bull Racing had a strong race in Bahrain and scored a point.
It will be difficult for them to score again in Malaysia unless a number of cars in front retire.
Drivers: Christian Klien outqualified his more experienced team-mate and drove well to finish 8th in Bahrain. Expect a similar performance in Sepang.
David Coulthard struggled in Bahrain after flat spotting his tyres and finishing tenth. He needs to do better to get ahead of Klien. Points difficult.
Toro Rosso: Clearly benefited from the restricted V10 engine rule and the testing they did in Bahrain in pre-season
testing. Still finishing one car ahead of BMW Sauber and both cars ahead of the Toyotas is impressive. It won't be that easy in
Drivers: Vitantonio Liuzzi drove a good race in Sepang to finish 11th just behind Coulthard in the first Red Bull team. Expect a similar performance in Sepang.
Scott Speed drove a reasonable race on his debut to finish 13th. He set a faster lap in the race than his team-mate. Points will be nearly impossible in Sepang though!.
BMW Sauber: They looked strong after qualifying with Heidfeld in the top 10 and Villeneuve 11th but in the race they
struggled with problems. They should do better in Sepang.
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld tangled with Rosberg at the start and only managed to finish 12th. Should do better in Sepang. Points possible but difficult.
Jacques Villeneuve looked set for a points finish but suffered a spectacular engine failure following his first pit stop. With a fresh engine for Sepang, he could do well scoring points.
Toyota: They would have to be the disappointment of the season so far. They were barely faster than MF1 Racing who use
their engines. It can't get any worse though!
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher struggled in Bahrain and it doesn't look like he will do much better in Sepang. He will be under a lot of pressure. Points will be very difficult.
Jarno Trulli will also struggle in Sepang. Last year's second place finish will be a dream.
MF1 Racing: Finished ahead of Super Aguri which was expected but they are too far behind the other teams.
Drivers: Tiago Monteiro continues his trademark of being able to finish but isn't particularly fast.
Christian Albers suffered a problem at the start of the race and retired. He should have better luck in Sepang.
Super Aguri: Finished one car 4 laps behind which isn't such a bad results given the circumstances. They should improve
gradually as they gain experience and speed.
Drivers: Takuma Sato did well to finish the race and avoid the other cars. Things should improve for him.
Yuji Ide showed his lack of experience. He has a lot to learn. Lets hope he does it without interfering with the other drivers.
Discuss this preview on the Malaysian Grand Prix Thread on the Forums
Join 8 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others. Register now!