Teams get ready for the hottest race of the year 23 Mar 2003
Few team principals doubt that this afternoon's Malaysian Grand Prix will be the hottest race of the season. It will certainly be the most humid.
At 56 laps of the 5.543 kms circuit, drivers' fitness will be taxed to the utmost and those who sweat the most can expect to lose up to two kilograms of liquid. All of them will have drinks bottles to help to replete lost energy reserves. In Brazil in 1982 winner Nelson Piquet actually collapsed on the podium, while Riccardo Patrese spun wildly in the race after momentarily blacking out.Yesterday Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello admitted that he was close to blacking out during the 1999 race when he was driving for the Stewart team.
"Five laps from the end I was hallucinating in the car," the Brazilian said. "It wasn't an experience that I'd like to repeat."
The other effect of the anticipated high track and ambient temperatures - around 50 and 35 degrees respectively - is the effect on tyres. It's not just the wear rate, but the possibility of blistering that teams face.
"Based on the information we had, we made the best tyre decision but tomorrow's race will be very hard," Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said.
Michelin's Pierre Dupasquier said: "All weekend we have had no problems at all with wear rate."