The third part of our summary of the drivers’ pre-Malaysia quotes, with the Mercedes, Force India and Virgin lads doing the talking.
Mercedes will be looking to put their disastrous Australian Grand Prix behind them with a strong result at Sepang, the home circuit of their title sponsors Petronas. Michael Schumacher may have won here on three occasions but these days the smart money is on Nico Rosberg to get the job done. He took a front row start and a podium in Malaysia last year and would no doubt be overjoyed with a repeat performance.
Michael Schumacher: “There is absolutely no doubt we want to do better than in the opening race, which was a disappointment for all of us. We clearly see that as a challenge and it is much too early to write us off. Everybody in the team remains positive and is in a fighting mood. So I expect a better weekend for us to come; a weekend we can build on.
“The [Sepang] track is great as it gives you a wide variety of possibilities during every lap. You can take multiple lines through some of the corners, which is something you can do hardly anywhere else. I have always liked driving there, and I look forward to doing it again.”
Nico Rosberg: “To be honest, Sepang is my favorite circuit on the Formula One calendar. It’s fast and challenging with a nice layout and a real variation of corners which make it an exciting track to drive.
“We had a tough weekend in Australia but the team has worked hard and we are confident that the car will be running reliably in Malaysia. Melbourne is a unique circuit and we know that we will have a much better understanding of our level of performance after the next races. I think we can surprise people next Sunday. We know that the car is fast from the last test in Barcelona, so now we have to work on proving that potential.”
Having played down their chances ahead of the season opener the Force India boys were thrilled to score points at Albert Park, albeit as a consequence of Sauber’s disqualification. A repeat result in Malaysia would likely be greeted with even greater enthusiasm, though it’s likely to require a bit of attrition in the field.
Adrian Sutil: “Our car performed quite well [in Australia]. We didn’t have too high expectations after the last test, so our main target was to finish the race. We achieved that with both cars and even scored some points.
“Malaysia was a great race last year, one of my best results, so I am really looking forward to racing there again. It’s a challenging circuit and with a good balance on the car you can definitely enjoy driving it. It is also usually an interesting weekend from a strategy point of view because you don’t know how the rain is going to affect the teams, so it is challenging, but exciting too.”
Paul di Resta: “[Australia] was a fantastic experience, one I have waited many years for, and it was better than I could have imagined. We have got off to a good start with a double-points finish in the Constructors Championship; we could not have asked for more than that.
“I participated in FP1 [at Sepang] last year, but did not complete a great deal of laps. I really enjoyed the track, although the heat and humidity is much tougher than anywhere else we drive on the calendar. It will be interesting to see how we perform there and I am very much looking forward to my second race with the team.”
Australia was not the step forward Virgin had been looking for as they kicked off their second F1 campaign, with both cars looking at risk of not qualifying and eventually sharing the back row of the grid. Little difference can be expected in Malaysia, where the boys in red and black will focussed on gaining as much data as possible ahead of planned upgrades for the European portion of the season.
Timo Glock: “Malaysia is one of the hardest races on the Formula One calendar and one for which fitness is very important. The heat and humidity are really punishing and so this is where the physical training really pays off.
“I have lots of good memories from this circuit – I finished on the podium in 2009 after chasing the leader, Jenson Button, before the race got red-flagged due to the big rainstorm. The Sepang track has a lot of character and it’s very physical, with Turn 14 being one of the toughest corners of all. It’s a race I will enjoy so we will try to make the best of our current package and aim to get both cars to the finish.”
Jerome d’Ambrosio: “I really enjoyed the whole experience of my debut Grand Prix. I learned a lot in Melbourne and I was very happy with the weekend as a starting point, so I’m looking forward to more of the same in Kuala Lumpur.
“I do know this track as I competed here in GP2 Asia. It’s a really interesting circuit layout and the challenge of racing in these tough conditions gives you a lot of satisfaction because it’s the best way of finding out just how fit you are. I think our focus will be on trying to do a better job in qualifying and getting both cars home again. Small but important steps for us until we get to Europe.”