The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of three races that the all conquering Mercedes team failed to win at last year, technical chief Paddy Lowe is determined to do better this time around.
The race is classed as a ‘home’ race for Mercedes as their title sponsor Petronas, are Malaysia’s major oil and gas company. Petronas ram the week building up to the race with corporate events, and they will be hoping for a good showing in front of their own fans.
“We’re all very much looking forward to Malaysia,” Lowe explained.
“With Kuala Lumpur being the home of Petronas, we very much see this as one of our home Grand Prix.
“In 2015 we didn’t manage to secure the win, which was hugely disappointing to us, so we have all the more motivation to come back and get it right this time around.”
The circuit has undergone some modifications for this year, which have been designed to improve the racing. Several corners have been re-profiled, along with a complete re-surface of the Sepang International Circuit. Sepang is known as one of the more difficult circuits on the calendar due to the high demands on the drivers as well as the car. Lowe had this to say:
“Focusing on the technical aspects of the circuit, it’s a very challenging weekend,” he continued.
“The heat and humidity make life tough for drivers, team and cars alike, while the track action can often be affected by rain, which tends to be very heavy and arrive very suddenly.
“As such, we’ve seen some very eventful races in Malaysia over the years. The nominated tyre compounds for this event are the hard, medium and soft, with the unusual scenario of the hard as the obligatory race compound – meaning that, if the race remains dry, every driver must use that tyre.
“The characteristic of the circuit itself is more ‘normal’ than that of Monza or Singapore, which were more focused on more specific areas of car performance.
“Sepang places an even emphasis on power, aero efficiency and mechanical grip, so we’re looking forward to seeing how we fare and aiming to put in a strong performance for the Malaysian fans.”
It remains to be seen how the tyre compounds cope with the re-surfaced asphalt, many expecting higher than normal degradation as a result.