The second round of pre-race quotes ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix has landed, with McLaren, Williams and Hispania the subject of today’s round-up.
Having travelled to Australia in apparent crisis McLaren enjoyed a strong run at Albert Park, with Lewis Hamilton finishing second and Jenson Button sixth. Another trip to the podium would likely be deemed a success as they work towards a revised car for the European portion of the season.
Lewis Hamilton: “Sepang is a circuit I really love. It’s big, fast and wide with some really demanding high-speed corners where you can find a lot of time if you’re really able to get the car working to its full extent.
“After the pace we showed in Melbourne, I think we can have another good race in Malaysia. Albert Park is a great track, but a circuit like Sepang is where the differences between the cars will start to become clearer.
“I’m really looking forward to using KERS Hybrid and the DRS too – the rapid change of direction you experience when the car is really in the groove is phenomenal around here, and I think both systems will make the cars look sensational, especially in qualifying.”
Jenson Button: “When I started in Formula 1, the Malaysian Grand Prix was one of the newest events on the grand prix calendar, but it now feels like an old favourite. I think Sepang’s a circuit that’s definitely improved with age: it’s always been a great track, but it feels like it’s grown into its own skin now, and is all the better for it.
“I won here in 2009 in some of the worst conditions I’ve ever experienced in a racing car – it was like driving through a river at some spots. Whatever the weather throws at us this year, I think we can have another strong weekend.”
Australia was an utter nightmare for Williams, with problems and mistakes throughout the weekend leaving them with nothing to show for the event. In Malaysia they’ll be looking to old hand Barrichello to qualify strongly and get some points on the board.
Rubens Barrichello: “Malaysia is a really nice place to visit and a track that I really enjoy racing on. It is a real test for the drivers though due to the heat and humidity. Malaysia will be hard on the tyres so it will be important to have a good car set-up. I am looking forward to getting there and to driving on such an incredible track. I hope to do well and my aim is to bring home some points.”
Pastor Maldonado: “After a difficult start to the season in Melbourne, I’m more than ready to get to Malaysia. Despite the result in Australia, I am now feeling more confident with both the car and within the team. Sepang is a very technical circuit, but I already know the track as I raced there in the 2009 GP2 Asia race, finishing second. I think that we will be able to get more performance out of our car there as there is a lot of potential if we keep working hard.
“Looking ahead, our objective is to continue to improve race after race. I would like to be in the top ten in both qualifying and the race, and I think we can achieve that.”
With both cars having failed to qualify in Australia simply making the grid in Malaysia would be an achievement for Hispania. Added bonuses would included bits not flying off the cars, finding a winning lottery ticket and Fernando Alonso suddenly coming over all patriotic and insisting on a switch to the Spanish outfit.
Narain Karthikeyan: “The last time I raced in Malaysia, back in 2005, I had huge support from the local fans. A lot of Indians also made the trip to come and watch the race, so my memories of this Grand Prix are fantastic. I also love local food as it is nice and spicy just like back home.
“Despite driving the car for very few laps in Australia, I could sense that the F111 has the potential to be an improvement over last year’s machine. Sepang is a very demanding track technically, both for the driver and the car. It will be a good proving ground for the F111. Our primary goal for the weekend is to get as many miles under our belt as possible. It is only with more and more miles of running that we will be able to begin to understand the F111 and to start extracting its potential. Qualifying for the race and finishing it will be our primary goals for Malaysia.”
Tonio Liuzzi: “The Malaysian Grand Prix has the added factor of extreme weather conditions. I remember last year’s qualifying session which was affected by the rain as a really challenging session.
“I think Sepang will be a really good track for the F111 because it’s a very technical and demanding track. It’s a challenging venue for our first proper race but a place where we will get a lot of information on the car. Our expectations for the weekend are to do well in qualifying and finish the race, confirming the performance and reliability of the car.
“I am really confident and motivated for this race. I’m sure things will be a lot different from Australia because we are better prepared and conscious of what we need to do.”