Malaysian Grand Prix - Facts and Figures 18 Mar 2004
Devised by Hermann Tilke, the Sepang circuit is a visually dramatic, beautifully equipped facility, and has been lavished with much praise by teams and drivers alike since joining the World Championship in 1999.
The demanding 15-turn, 5.543km track features a pair of parallel straights plus a combination of low and medium-speed corners that really test drivers. Indeed, Sepang is regarded as one of the most physically demanding tracks in the world. The surface is wide and smooth with overtaking most likely to occur under braking for the tight corners at the end of each straight.
Sepang also provides wonderful spectator facilities, including a unique "double-sided" 30,000-seat grandstand with an unusual roof in the shape of an hibiscus - the national flower of Malaysia.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is traditionally considered to be one of the season's hottest races. So hot in fact that in 2003, more than 3,000 litres of water and soft drinks were dispensed by the Williams hospitality suite alone.
At last years race Fernando Alonso, then aged 21, became the youngest driver, and the first Spaniard, to take a Formula One pole position. With team mate Jarno Trulli alongside him, it was the first all-Renault front row in almost 20 years. Alonso proceeded to finish on the podium, the first time a Spanish driver had done so since the Marquis Fon de Portago at the 1956 British Grand Prix.
Victory in 2003 went to McLarens Kimi Raikkonen, who, with his debut Formula One win, became the third Finnish driver to triumph in a Grand Prix. He still has a way to go though to catch his compatriots Keke Rosberg and Mika Hakkinen scored five and twenty wins respectively, Rosbergs all with Williams and Hakkinens all with McLaren.
Kuala Lumpur is the hub of Malaysia. The capital city offers visitors an eclectic mix with vibrant Asian culture sitting alongside British colonial architecture and famous high-tech structures such as the 452 metre high Petronas Towers.
Kuala Lumpur is located along the west coast of the Malaysian peninsula, around 35 kilometres inland on the Rivers Klang and Gombek. It is the country's largest city with a population of approximately 1.5 million people.
Michael Schumacher has the best record of any driver at Sepang. Of the five times the event has been held, Schumacher has won twice, recorded the fastest lap twice and taken pole position four times. Only once has he failed to finish on the podium he came sixth last year after being penalised for a clash with Renaults Jarno Trulli.
Alex Yoong remains the only Malaysian driver to have competed in the FIA Formula One World Championship. He started 14 Grands Prix with Minardi between 2001 and 2002, with a best result of seventh place. He is now, among other things, a Formula One television presenter in his home country.