Malaysia GP Preview: The 3 S’s ~ Sun, Stewards and the Schedule

Malaysia and the weather

untitledWhilst still a nearly 2 days from the start of FP1 we have a 5 day forecast that will be reasonable reliable subject to wind speeds not fluctuating too much. For those in new money the chart temperatures are 32-33 Celsius and the humidity is up around 75% on Friday and Saturday rising to almost 90% on Sunday

Friday: A more detailed analysis from Met Office data reveals that the Friday FP1 session could suffer ‘thundary showers’. These are short but very very heavy bursts of rain that can be done and dusted in 15 minutes. The afternoon session is forecast to suffer ‘heavy rain’. This precipitation would be more prolonged and consistently heavy.

Should this be the case, it is pretty disastrous for all the teams. However, in particular for Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes amongst the ‘bigger teams’ have got a lot of work to do that requires track time.

It may appear to the more casual F1 onlooker that a couple of wet sessions would be good for the teams to gather wet weather tyre data and car data too for use in the race. The problem is that the modern cars do not really have a ‘wet weather setup’ and more importantly the highly abrasive nature of the asphalt in Sepang will probably force the teams to save the wet tyres for use in anger on Sunday.

untitledSaturday: Currently Saturday will be predominantly sunny with the threat of ‘Thunderstorms’ early afternoon and around the time of FP3. These again will be short but very heavy downpours of rain. Later in the day the forecast resumes to the ‘heavy rain’ prediction as for Friday afternoon.

We could see again the ridiculous pictures of men and brushes attempting to shift 10’s of thousands of litres of water because whilst this was the first of the new Tilke circuits it was built on an old swamp land and the drainage has always been questionable – add to this a monsoon like downpour and rivers flowing down the pit lane may once again be in view.

Sunset in Sepang on Saturday is at 19:23, so up to 2 hours of delays should allow for qualifying to be completed before the day of the race. However this is again a very tight window for operating and the risk of failing to complete qualifying on Saturday must be considered reasonable given the known elements.

Surely, the mainstream European Audience would prefer qualifying to be at 07:00 GMT and 08:00 CET thus allowing 3 hours of safety margin for the session to be complete should it suffer adverse weather. The teams too are highly disrupted should qualifying again have to be completed on Sunday and for the sake of what?

Sunday: The prediciton for Sunday from around 10:00am is that there will be ‘heavy rain’. This abates around 20:00 local time some 30-40 minutes after sunset. The race is due to commentce at 16:00 and in the rain the 307Km may take most of the 2 hours to complete, leaving just 1 hour and 23 minutes before sunset for any red flag delays.

untitledUnlike in Australia where sunset and ‘darkness’ are separated by some time, Sepang is just over 200m from the equator and darkness will ensue more quickly following the official setting of the sun. The light is significantly diminished anyway by ‘heavy rain’ and the clouds, so sunset may be the very latest time that racing cars could possibly be on track – if not earlier.

Wind speed indications are light and between 3-6Kph for the whole weekend – so weather fronts are unlikely to change significantly based upon regional shifts in pressure. Are we surprised at this – well March is the second wettest month in Malaysia with an average rainfall of 8.3mm of ‘liquid sunshine’ falling every single day.

Looks like it could be Wet Wet Wet folks.

Weekend Schedule

Drivers’ Press Conference 15:00 07:00
Practice Session 1 10.00-11.30 02:00-03:30
Practice Session 2 14.00-15.30 06:00-07:30
Team Principals’ Press Conference 16:00 08:00
Practice Session 3 13.00-14.00 05:00-06:00
Qualifying 16.00-17.00 08:00-09:00
Followed by unilateral and
press conference
Drivers’ Parade 14:30 06:30
Race 16.00-18.00 08:00-10:00
Followed by unilateral and
press conference

Stewards for Malaysia



Derek Warwick raced in 146 grands prix, from 1981 to 1993, for Toleman, Renault, Brabham, Arrows and Lotus. He scored 71 points and achieved four podium finishes, with two fastest laps. He was World Sportscar Champion in 1992, driving for Peugeot. He also won Le Mans in the same year. Warwick raced Jaguar sportscars in 1986 and 1991. Warwick competed in the British Touring Car Championship in 1995, 1997 and 1998, as well as making one more appearance at the Le Mans in 1996, driving for the Courage Competition team.



Shetty sits on the FIA International Court of Appeal as a judge and is a permanent member of the National Court of Appeal (Singapore). He is also Chairman of the Disciplinary Commission of the Singapore Motor Sports Association and a national steward of the Singapore Grand Prix. Shetty has assisted the Singapore Motor Sports Association for many years as a legal advisor and committee member. In addition to being involved in the Singapore Grand Prix, Shetty has acted as a steward in the Singapore Karting Championship. Away from motor sport, he is a Partner and Head of International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution, South East Asia at global law firm Clifford Chance.



Paul Gutjahr started racing in the late 1960s with Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lotus and Porsche, then March in Formula 3. In the early ‘70s he became President of the Automobile Club Berne and organised numerous events. He acted as President of the organising committee of the Swiss GP at Dijon between 1980-82. Between 1980-2005 he acted as President of the Commission Sportive Nationale de l’Automobile Club de Suisse and in 2005 he became President and board member of the Auto Sport Suisse motor sports club. Gutjahr is President of the Alliance of European Hill Climb Organisers and has been steward at various high-level international competitions. He was the Formula 3000 Sporting Commissioner and has been a Formula One steward since 1995.

Circuit differentials from 2012

The pit wall debris fence has been extended in order to better protect the marshals and the DRS sectors will be between turns 15 and 1 (pit straight, as last year) and then between turns 14 and 15 (back straight). There will be a detection point for each DRS sector, but where we have not yet been informed.

For discussion. How do you see the additional DRS zone affecting proceedings specifically if you consider events from the 2012 race.


One response to “Malaysia GP Preview: The 3 S’s ~ Sun, Stewards and the Schedule

  1. slightly disappointing to read of the DRS positioning. If somebody doesn’t manage to get the move done in one straight they shouldn’t have that aid again.

    Also, this will lead to drivers being less risky as they know they can use the first one to get close, and the second to get the job done. 🙁

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