We preview this Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix being held at the Sepang International Circuit on the 1 October.
This will be the final time the Sepang International Circuit plays host to an F1 field, with Malaysia set to cut her ties with the Formula 1 world due to financial constraints. A stop-off in Malaysia has been a constant since Sepang first opened its doors in 1999, and many F1 heads will view this in a similar manner to saying goodbye to a close friend. The track has given motorheads some epic moments including Micahel Schumacher qualifying on pole fresh off recovering from a broken leg (1999) as well as Kimi Raikkonen’s first ever race victory (2003).
So which of the current crop will add the final track to Sepang’s Greatest Hits album? Let’s see if we can find out below:
In the word’s of everyone’s favourite anchorman/comedian “Well, that escalated quickly!”. Barely seconds into the Singapore Grand Prix had past and the top three qualifiers were all out of the race following a smash up of epic proportions.
It seems you can’t mention accident in the same sentence this year without adding Red Bull young gun Max Verstappen to it. The Dutch lad has born the flack for most of the incidents in which he’s been involved in this term, but this time around it was Kimi Raikkonen at fault with the veteran Finn sandwiching Verstappen’s Red Bull between his and Vettel’s Ferraris. Kimi’s over-exuberance resulted in not only his, his teammate’s and Verstappen’s early retirement from the race but also Fernando Alonso’s, with the Veteran Spaniard once again finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So with the front three out, as well as dark horse Fernando Alonso, the race became a shootout between Hamilton and Ricciardo. And while the ‘Brit was the more likely to win that duel, he would have been a relieved man to have seen Ricciardo struggle with gearbox issues midway through the race. The Aussie managed to nurse his car across the finish line in second despite the problem but he was no match for Hamilton who cantered to yet another race victory.
There was more good news for Mercedes with Valtteri Bottas claiming third place. The Silver Arrows will be hoping this last effort in Singapore is a sign of a more fruitful relationship with the track.
With a number of notable retirees, there were always going to be a few surprise names in the top six. The most notable of these was Julian Palmer who brought his car home behind Carlos Sainz Jr. (4th) and Sergio Perez (5th).
The rest of the top ten compromised of Stofell Vandoorne (7th), Lance Stroll (8th), Romain Grosjean (9th) and Esteban Ocon (10th).
Malaysian Grand Prix | Sunday 1 October | Sepang International Circuit | 07:30
To Win Race
Lewis Hamilton 1/1 | Sebastian Vettel 16/10 | Valterri Bottas 6/1 | Daniel Ricciardo 14/1 | Max Verstappen 16/1 | Kimi Raikonnen 20/1
Situated some 80-kilometres from Kuala Lumpur’s city centre, the 5.543-kilometre long Sepang International Circuit is home to one of motorsport’s most intriguingly designed grandstands. Though these grandstands don’t tend to fill out over the race weekend due to locals being priced out of the event. Things are likely to be different this year with the organisers dropping the ticket prices significantly.
The track’s two longest straights are connected by a hairpin turn that runs parallel to this outlandish Grandstand. In addition to the aforementioned high-speed straights and hairpin turn, drivers will have to contend with six shorter straights and fourteen more corners. The two DRS zones are located on the pit straight and the final straight.
In terms of weather conditions, high twenties to low thirties are being predicted for the entirety of the race weekend, as are thunderstorms.
Last year’s race saw a surprise one-two finish for Red Bull with Ricciardo claiming the race honours and Verstappen finishing as runner-up. The podium was rounded out by Nico Rosberg.
Daniel Ricciardo – Podium Finish (Yes) 7/4
I said the Ricciardo podium finish was a banker out in Singapore and the Aussie delivered on my words. Malaysia is another track where the Red Bull man has a healthy record – he actually won last year at Sepang/ He’s carrying great form in to this race and I would not bet against him landing another podium finish.
Fastest Qualifier – Lewis Hamilton 61/100
This is another track where Hamilton has struggled come race day. The ‘Brit has had no such woes when it comes to qualifying at Sepang, however, having claimed pole at the last three Malaysian Grand Prix. He looks a nailed on cert to claim another pole here.
Race Winner – Sebastian Vettel 2/1
Vettel would have been left fuming at his teammate’s overzealousness last week. The German looked to have the better of title rival Hamilton for the majority of the race weekend until Kimi Raikkonen decided to channel his inner Danil Kyvat and cause a spectacular crash. Vettel will have put last weekend behind him, however, and I can see him securing a vital win here. Get on the German ace at 2/1.