Drivers ready to sample Sepang ahead of round two
The Sepang International Circuit hosts its first official Formula One test this week, with all but one of the 11 teams due to attend from Tuesday. With even higher temperatures than in Australia and a more abrasive track surface, the three-day session will be invaluable in preparing for the forthcoming Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of April.
The cars and equipment have come directly from the opening round in Melbourne, so most teams will be using their race crews for the test, rather than their usual, European-based testing teams. Some test drivers, however, will be in action.
After their dominant Australian victory, Ferrari will not be resting on their laurels. Albert Park winner Kimi Raikkonen will be at the wheel of the F2007 on Tuesday and Wednesday, with team mate Felipe Massa taking over for the final day.
World champion Fernando Alonso will be notable by his absence at McLaren. With the 2007 testing agreement limiting teams to just one car per day, the Mercedes-powered squad have opted to run tester Pedro de la Rosa on day one and new star Lewis Hamilton for the remainder.
Renault will be giving maximum track time to the rookie in their line-up, Heikki Kovalainen, after his difficult Australian weekend. Sepang is new territory for Kovalainen, so the Finn will be eager to make the most of things as the team search for the pace to put them back on terms with Ferrari and McLaren.
BMW Sauber showed impressive pace in Melbourne, but will be working at Sepang to solve the reliability issues that led to Robert Kubicas retirement. Toyota, meanwhile, got both cars to the finish in Australia, but are definitely in need of more speed. Tester Franck Montagny will drive the TF107 on Tuesday, then Ralf Schumacher for the last two days.
Alex Wurz will carry out the bulk of Williams work, the Austrian only handing over the FW29 to team mate Nico Rosberg for the final day. They will be joined by Honda, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Super Aguri, who expect to have Anthony Davidson fit and in attendance after his back-bruising Australian Grand Prix.
Spyker are the only team not testing at Sepang. Instead the Ferrari-powered squad will be hard at work at their Silverstone factory back in the UK, readying a major aero update which will debut at the Malaysian race.
Spectators wishing to attend this weeks test can gain free access to the Mall area of the Sepang International Circuit. If you cant make it in person, then be sure to visit Formula1.com throughout the week for news of the teams progress. Note - all schedules are provisional and subject to change.