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Unsettled weather for Malaysian Grand Prix 19 Mar 2003

Torrential rain hails the arrival of the monsoon!
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, 20 March 2003

High humidity and a high chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon are two of the prospects facing teams in Sepang for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. Weather forecasts put the likelihood of heavy showers at 60 per cent.

This could create another interesting situation similar to the start of the Australian Grand Prix, where the weather, rather than the new regulations, created something of a lottery.

Michelin had a distinct tyre advantage in the heat of last year's race. Bridgestone-shod Michael Schumacher took pole position for Ferrari in 1m 35.266s, but after the world champion and Juan Pablo Montoya collided in the first corner, BMW Williams pilot Ralf Schumacher had an easy ride to victory ahead of his team-mate, with the recovered Schumacher Snr lucking into third place in the closing stages when Jenson Button's Renault broke its suspension.

Both tyre companies have since made a lot of progress. Michelin went on to develop a great qualifying tyre, Bridgestone to dominate races. Recently, there are signs that Michelin has made significant steps with its wet weather performance.

This year's race takes place over 56 laps of the smooth-surfaced 5.543 km circuit, which calls for downforce levels only just behind the highest circuits on the calendar, Monaco and Hungaroring.