Following a sensational debut race weekend in Australia where Jenson Buttonled Brawn GP to its first Grand Prix victory, the team headed straight toMalaysia for Round Two of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.
This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 5 April at theSepang International Circuit close to Kuala Lumpur. The 56-lap race is oneof the toughest on the calendar due to the punishing heat and humiditycoupled with the challenge of the circuit's demanding corners, longstraights and bumpy asphalt.
This year's race will be the 11th to be held at the Herman Tilke designedtrack which was built on the site of a 260-hectare swamp. The 5.54km (3.44mile) circuit sees the cars average 210kph (130mph) around its 15 turns.
Brawn GP will be hoping to build on its successful weekend in Melbournewhich sees the team leading the Constructors' Championship with 18 pointsand Jenson Button leading the Drivers' Championship with 10 points.
ROSS BRAWN, TEAM PRINCIPAL
Q. A dream start to the season in Australia. Can you follow up that level ofperformance in Malaysia?
"The Australian Grand Prix weekend was a fantastic experience for our teamand the one-two result for Jenson and Rubens went beyond our hopes andexpectations for our very first race. We know that our competitors will notstand still however and that the challenge will become ever more difficultfrom here. We can rise to that challenge and we have a very good and stablecar which should go well around the Sepang circuit.As in Australia, we will need to maximise the practice running that we haveon Friday to develop the set-up, and we will be faced with the usualreliability concerns caused by the high temperatures that we expect inMalaysia. As the race is later than usual in the calendar and will takeplace later in the day, we are expecting some rain showers which will makethe strategy for the weekend very interesting."
JENSON BUTTONQ. With such an impressive opening weekend, what are your thoughts ahead ofthe second race of the season?
"After the amazing weekend that we experienced in Melbourne, the whole teamwas keen to get to Malaysia and start racing again. However the MalaysianGrand Prix is always one of the toughest races of the season and it will bea real challenge for our new car with so little testing under our belts.Malaysia has a really hot and humid climate which really tests the car'sdurability and coupled with the frequent torrential downpours can make foran unpredictable race weekend. It's a tough place for the drivers as theheat in the cockpit can be unbearable and tests the limit of your fitnessand concentration. You have to work hard to find a good balance for the carat Sepang and it can be challenging for the tyres to work well for the wholelap. Malaysia is a special circuit for me as I achieved my first podium hereback in 2004 so I'm hoping that this weekend will provide some more happymemories!"
Q. What are the particular challenges of the Malaysian Grand Prix?
"The Malaysian Grand Prix is always a really tough race but if you can copewell with the heat and humidity, it is a track that the drivers enjoy. It'sa real engineering challenge to find the right balance and you need to havea car with good aerodynamics to find time around the lap. The intense heatputs pressure on the engine, brakes and the drivers as the temperature canrise above 50 degrees in the cockpit so you have to be well-prepared andensure you are fully-hydrated. Our team had a really good race weekend inAustralia and the car performed as we expected, however we anticipate thatour competitors to be closer this time so we will be working extra hard toimprove on our performance from last weekend."
Sepang International Circuit Stats
Circuit Length: 5.543km Race Distance: 310.408km Number of Laps: 56
Full Throttle: 68% Brake Wear: Medium / Hard Tyre Compounds: Soft / Hard Downforce Level: High 8/10 Tyre Usage: Hard Average Speed: 210kph (130mph)
Race Weekend Schedule (all times are local)
Friday 3 AprilPractice 1: 1000 - 1130 Practice 2: 1400 - 1530
Saturday 4 AprilPractice 3: 1400 - 1500 Qualifying: 1700 - 1800
Sunday 5 AprilRace: 1700