As the countdown to Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix begins we’ve been taking a look at some of the pre-race quotes from up and down the F1 paddock. Today we’re running through the thoughts of the Red Bull, Sauber and Team Lotus lads.
Australia was a picture of perfection for Sebastian Vettel, with pole and a commanding race win providing the perfect start to his world title defence. He’ll be expected to produce more of the same in Malaysia. Mark Webber meanwhile had the sort of off-colour weekend that cost him last year’s championship, and will be looking to bounce back at the circuit he once put a Jaguar on the front row at.
Sebastian Vettel: “Malaysia is the first real track we go to, as Australia is a semi-street circuit. It’s hot and rains everyday, but the question is when and how much? It will be a tricky one.
“Circuit-wise you’ve got everything in there: Turn 14 requires you to brake the car while you’re still turning into the corner, which makes it quite challenging. Generally the overseas races are special, as you go there a few days earlier than usual, so you get to see different things. I enjoy that and am looking forward to it.”
Mark Webber: “Malaysia is a sensational circuit. It always provides an interesting race, especially with the weather. It’s a great challenge for the driver too in terms of temperature and we’ll need to see how the tyres go there. We got a lot of information from the first race and we expect our car to be good in Malaysia – I want to get some champagne and up on to the steps.”
Sauber’s season opened with a healthy dose of joy and disappointment. A superb drive from Sergio Perez to take seventh at the flag, with team-mate Kamui Kobayashi one place back, was quickly cancelled out when both cars were disqualified for running illegal rear wings. In Malaysia they’ll be looking to set that right by putting points on the board. Interestingly there was no mention of wings in either driver’s pre-race statement.
Kamui Kobayashi: “I have good memories of the Sepang circuit since it was there I managed to get into the final qualifying session last year for the first time. After our good performance in Melbourne we are, of course, very motivated for the next race. The guaranteed higher temperatures in Malaysia, though, will make a big difference. I especially expect the tyre degradation to be significantly higher there, so this might result in different race strategies.
“Another challenge could be if we get a wet race, as this happens quite often in Malaysia. But we are now very confident about our performance after what we did in Melbourne. I hope we can continue like that with our pace. The circuit is nice with a couple of high speed corners, and the layout offers more overtaking opportunities than we had in Albert Park.”
Sergio Perez: “Of course I’m very motivated and looking forward to what will be my second Formula One race. I think we have a good car. It is quick enough to aim for points and it was reliable. I hope we can keep this consistency and do more good races. Now after I have my debut Grand Prix weekend behind me I know a lot better what to expect in qualifying and the race, and this gives me even more confidence.
Lotus lacked the pace to challenge the midfield runners in Australia but tech chief Mike Gascoyne is bullish about his team’s chances in Malaysia – which just happens to be their home race. It’s difficult to see them thriving without KERS on a circuit of this nature but in what could be a highly attritional race they could conceivably sneak in to the points.
Heikki Kovalainen: “Physically it’s one of the toughest races, maybe together with Singapore which is also very difficult. It’s something we start preparing for immediately after Australia. I arrived in Malaysia immediately after Melbourne and I started preparing the hydration and working with my nutritionist to prepare for the race itself. If you prepare properly it’s no issue. I’m looking forward to it – I enjoy being in the heat and I’m not distracted by it at all .”
Jarno Trulli: “I’ve been keeping busy since arriving and spent a couple of days up in the Malaysian hills training on my bike with a local pro team and that’s given me an outstanding preparation for what is always a tough weekend in the car.
“Sepang is a very challenging track. It’s technical and it pushes the drivers and the cars very hard but we believe that the package we have can help us have a good weekend here in Malaysia and I am really looking forward to seeing how the car responds in the heat. In a perfect world we would be able to do something amazing in front of our home fans, but let’s see. It’s still early days for us, and while we are clearly closer to the midfield teams than we were a year ago we still have some time to make up.”