Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham
2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a
“The second race of the year is Malaysia and it’s our team’s first home race of the year, so it’s going to be a good week! I’ve obviously raced there a few times before, and finished in the points in 2011, and this year it would be great if we were able to fight for a point, but we’ll have to make sure we have a better Friday than we did in Australia if we’re going to have a stronger weekend at Sepang.
“The way we bounced back in qualifying in Melbourne showed a little bit of what we can do, but without any real laps in FP1 or FP2 we only had a very small chance to fight. With a proper Friday and Saturday program we can give ourselves the opportunity to show the true pace of the car, and prepare much more for the race. Obviously, I’d like to also make sure I don’t have the same brake problems that caused the accident in turn one in Australia - without that I think we’d have had a strong race and we’ll work as hard as we can to give ourselves the chance to really perform.
“Off track we’re going to be busy, especially on Tuesday night when I’m at a Renault event at Sepang and on Wednesday when we have a very packed schedule meeting sponsors and fans. We’ll be at the Pavilion Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday afternoon from about 2pm meeting our fans so if anyone is in KL that afternoon they should come along. We’re also going to see AirAsia’s head office on Wednesday afternoon and meet their staff, so it’ll be good to see one of (Caterham Group Co-Chairman) Tony’s (Fernandes) other teams in action!”
Marcus Ericsson, Caterham
2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a
“I can’t wait to get back in the car, especially after having a really good race until the oil pressure problem forced us to stop in Australia. It’s been great to read so many nice comments about what we did in the race after such a bad Friday, but now I want to get on with it again and go straight back to work.
“Sepang’s a track I’ve already raced on, so that’s obviously an advantage over Australia. I really like the heat and have trained hard all through the winter to prepare for races like Malaysia, so I’ll be 100 percent ready physically, but I’m still just loving being in F1 and for race two to be a home race for Caterham and on a track I know and like, that’s just really good for me. It’ll be great to see how much Caterham means to the Malaysian fans, and I’ve been told the autograph session on Sunday will be one of the real highlights of the year, so there’s a lot to be excited about!
“We obviously need a stronger weekend on track overall, and I know they guys back at the factory and at Renault have been working flat out to help us do so. Our race pace in Australia was pretty good, but with a full Friday and not having to use FP3 to catch up, I think we can start to unlock the real performance of this year’s car. If we can do that, and with the work being put in by everyone, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t, I think Malaysia could be a strong weekend for our team.”
Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber
2013 Qualifying - 14th, 2013 Race - 12th
“The Sepang International Circuit is completely different in comparison to the track in Melbourne. It will be interesting to get a feeling for the car with such different track characteristics. It is a smooth track, and less bumpy. It can give us a better feeling when braking, which is where we were struggling quite a lot during the whole weekend in Melbourne. The track has several high speed corners where we will be able to evaluate our downforce and see what the balance of the car is like. Also, the set-up is quite different. It is a fact that we are not happy yet with our performance. We need to put our heads together, be united as a team and make progress in every little detail we can. We have a great team, and I am confident we can improve.”
Adrian Sutil, Sauber
2013 Qualifying - 9th, 2013 Race - DNF
“Malaysia is one of the hottest races during the season, and, as a result, a challenge because of the high humidity. You have to be well prepared, as, especially at the end of the race, you notice the difference. Everyone should get through the race, but the drivers will be pushed to their limits. The track consists of many fast turns, long straights and a few hairpins, which make it quite an interesting one. I am curious to drive the car on this track where the aerodynamics play a huge role. This is important in order to get to know where we stand. If a car is good in Sepang, then it will be fast on other tracks as well. You need everything here - good aerodynamics, grip in the corners and high speed on the straights. The aerodynamic efficiency of the car is a key. Generally, my hope is that we improve from race to race. In Malaysia, the main objective is to get better and to make a step forward.”
Giampaolo Dall’Ara, Sauber head of track engineering
“The Malaysian Grand Prix is a very challenging one. On the technical side, this medium-to-high speed circuit will keep engineers and drivers busy. Furthermore, the ambient conditions demand good physical preparation by the drivers and, to some extent, the pit crew. After the season opener in Melbourne, we are heading to the first race on a permanent circuit. The valuable data gathered over the first race weekend will help us to address a number of performance issues we had. However, for other matters we will need more time and patience. Because of the abrasiveness of the tarmac and the hot temperatures, Pirelli has decided to bring its hard and medium compounds to the venue, which is in line with the last two seasons. Previous races also suggest we should keep the possibility of rain in mind while planning race strategies. Having worked mostly on the set-up, control systems and generally on the software side in order to enhance our braking and mid corner performance, we won’t be racing with visibly different cars at Sepang. Yet, we look forward to improving our competitiveness with the objective to score points.”
Romain Grosjean, Lotus
2013 Qualifying - 11th, 2013 Race - 6th
“The first challenge in Malaysia will be the heat, humidity and usual rain storms at 4pm! For us as a team, the target is to move forwards and improve. The race in Melbourne was basically a good, long test. It wasn’t easy for the guys but I’m happy we did a lot of laps in the race. We gathered some useful data and we will now improve using that data. The aim now is to have a straightforward weekend at Sepang, working through our proper schedule in free practice, then carrying the benefits from that over to qualifying and the race. Sepang is one of my favourite circuits and I’m looking forward to it.
“Other than the early finish, the Australian Grand Prix was positive. We learned more about the car in 44 racing laps than during the whole of winter testing! The team has done so much work and each of the changes have been in the right direction. It was looking good in the race and then we had the same problem as Pastor: the MGU-K shaft. But at least there is no mystery about what happened and we are working with Renault Sport F1 to solve the problem.
“Overall we are happy with the chassis, the aero balance for the changing fuel load, the driveability of the engine and the fuel economy. Of course there is work to do with energy management and recovery and we know Renault Sport F1 is responding to this. On our side we know more about the set-up and the direction we must go in order to make the car better. Braking for example was not perfect, but that is also to do with the tyres. The new tyres are really hard and their handling characteristics have changed. We are not getting the best out of them yet, but we will. There are plenty of areas for us to play with, but we now have a clear base set-up for Malaysia.”
Pastor Maldonado, Lotus
2013 Qualifying - 16th, 2013 Race - DNF
“Sepang is a good track and I really like the challenges it presents us with. It’s very interesting from the car point of view, especially the aerodynamics, but also the tyres because the asphalt is very aggressive. Hopefully this event will go more smoothly for us compared with Australia. We know we need to work very hard to achieve our aims and objectives for the E22. We know where our main focus lies and as a team we are determined to get there.
“We know the weather at Sepang can change a lot; in fact it is usually either extreme heat or extreme rain, so very tropical and we’ll need to be ready for everything. Also the extreme temperatures are hard on the cars in terms of reliability and from the driving point of view it is quite stressful as well. All round, I would say Sepang is one of the toughest races of the year. We’ll need to be strong in all areas.”
Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso
2013 Qualifying - 17th, 2013 Race - 10th
“It’s not one of my favourite tracks to be honest, as I don’t feel it has any particularly challenging characteristics. The best thing about this race is its unpredictable nature, because of the weather: you can start on slicks and within a few laps, you need extreme wets because of a heavy storm and that can be fun for a driver. The fans are very enthusiastic when we meet them at the autograph sessions and that is a nice feeling to realise there is so much support there. I have a happy memory of Sepang as it was here that I scored my first Formula One points.”
Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
2013 Qualifying - n/a, 2013 Race - n/a
“The second race of the season is also the first track that I have visited before. I took my first ever single-seater win here for BMW in 2010 and actually this is also where I drove my very first single-seater race, so I have plenty of memories of this circuit. It’s going to seem very different this time, because there’s a huge step from Formula BMW to Formula One. The track itself is quite interesting, while the heat and humidity make it unique in that respect. I am sure I can be more confident this weekend, after experiencing my first race weekend in Melbourne combined with the fact I know the track. I like Malaysia and did some touristy things when I was there, like going up the Petronas towers and going to some beach resorts.”
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India
2013 Qualifying - 12th, 2013 Race - 8th
“Malaysia is going to be a tough challenge with totally different track characteristics and higher temperatures, which always leads to higher tyre degradation. It should be a good test of the new cars because it’s much more open than Melbourne with a nice variation of high and low-speed corners, plus two long straights.”
Sergio Perez, Force India
2013 Qualifying - 10th, 2013 Race - 9th
“I think as a team we are moving in the right direction and there were lots of positives to take away from Australia. It was the first race and we, as everyone else on the grid, are still learning a lot about the new car. We have seen some encouraging signs and collected a lot of data that can be put to use for the next few races, starting in Sepang.
“I believe Malaysia can be a very good race for us. Let's see how we can perform there. I think Melbourne was a more difficult one for us and with a hotter track and more rear tyre degradation for everyone we can be stronger. I'm counting the days to Malaysia to recover what we couldn't achieve in Australia. I have good memories of this track and I want to build on my previous results there.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“The weather in Melbourne was relatively cool so I'd like to see what impact the warmer climates of Malaysia and Bahrain will have on performance and competitiveness. Effective cooling will be a priority this weekend. If we can reproduce the performance level we showed in Melbourne that will be a good starting point.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
2013 Qualifying - 4th, 2013 Race - 3rd
“Malaysia is a stunning country and I always enjoy coming here. The fans are fantastic and it also forms one of three home races for the team alongside Germany and Great Britain. We have some exciting events planned with Petronas during the days building up to the race weekend so it will be a busy week but a lot of fun. I finished second on my Formula One debut here in 2007 and have been on the podium at the last two Malaysian Grands Prix but I've yet to win here. It would be amazing to stand on the top step at one of our home races and I'm looking forward to bouncing back after a tough weekend in Australia. Although it was not the result we were hoping for, every setback is a chance to learn more about this new car, which is important as they're incredibly complex machines. I know the team at Brackley and Brixworth is pushing harder than ever and I'll be doing the same.”
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes
2013 Qualifying - 6th, 2013 Race - 4th
“The Malaysian Grand Prix is the home race for Petronas so it's always a busy and exciting weekend. Sepang holds some great memories for me too as I achieved my first podium for Mercedes here at the start of the 2010 season. Normally the weather is seen as the biggest challenge here but this season is different, with reliability the focus of everyone's attention. Of course, it will still be hot, humid and probably wet at some stage too, so it should be a fascinating weekend. Australia was the perfect start to my season, but it also highlighted that we're not 100 percent there yet in terms of reliability. We've had two weeks before this race to identify all the things that we can do better, so hopefully we can bring both cars home for a good result this weekend and continue our strong start to the year.”
Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“We head to Malaysia looking forward to an exciting week: not just at the circuit, but off track as well with Petronas. This is the third time we have worked together to bring Formula One to the streets of Kuala Lumpur and it is a great opportunity to bring our Malaysian fans closer to their team. As one of our home races, we are extremely motivated to get a good result here. The first race in Australia left us with mixed emotions. Neither of our drivers put a foot wrong all weekend but unfortunately only one came away with the result he deserved. We know that reliability will be crucial to this long season and we have been working hard to improve the situation for the race in Malaysia. We made a solid start to the year in Melbourne, but we are very aware that not one percent of effort can be dropped if we are to remain competitive.”
Paddy Lowe, Mercedes executive director (technical)
“While we were pleased to come away from Melbourne with a win, we were also left with plenty to think about. As is to be expected with such new technology, we are learning more about the car with every lap. This inevitably brings more problems to the surface, all of which require careful management. Our priority has therefore been to arrive in Malaysia in better shape mechanically than we left Australia. This race presents a very different set of challenges in terms of both the climate and the demands of the circuit layout. Sepang is a permanent race track which is generally a lot more differentiating of the cars; particularly with regard to aerodynamics. As always, reliability and endurance will be crucial, but we believe this venue will provide a more accurate representation of the relative pace between teams. It should be an interesting weekend.”
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director
“Malaysia will obviously be only the second race that this completely new range of tyres, designed for the latest-generation Formula One cars, have ever competed in, and it also marks the debut of our 2014 hard tyre. The medium performed well in Melbourne, but Malaysia obviously presents a big contrast to Australia. We go from the smooth asphalt in Melbourne to a highly abrasive surface, and from the relatively cool conditions of Albert Park to much higher ambient and track temperatures. This of course will be as much of a challenge for the new cars as it is for the drivers, and we mustn’t forget that we are still at a very early point in the overall learning curve. Wet conditions in qualifying in Australia allowed the teams to sample the 2014 intermediate and full wet tyres, and this knowledge could become very useful in Sepang.”
Felipe Massa, Williams
2013 Qualifying - 2nd, 2013 Race - 5th
“Malaysia is a nice place to race, it’s a hot and humid race which makes it a physically tough one for the drivers. The heat also has a big effect on the tyres and how quickly degradation happens. These extreme temperatures means Malaysia is less like any other circuit we will race at. When you go to Malaysia you can never count out the weather either, there is always the chance of rain, its heavy rain too, and this can happen at the end of nearly every day. All of these factors mean the race is always exciting from a fans point of view but these changes are tough for the drivers. I’m looking forward to having a good race there.”
Valtteri Bottas, Williams
2013 Qualifying - 18th, 2013 Race - 11th
“Malaysia will be a real challenge for us, but also something the other teams will have to deal with too. Cooling will be a major factor as the temperatures are so high, there is also still a lot to learn about the new power units, so this heat adds to this learning curve. It could be the hottest race this season and having it at the start of the season when people are trying to develop what they have isn’t the easiest of tasks. Physically for the drivers it isn’t easy; we have to work hard in the off-season so we are ready for times like this. The track itself is very nice; it has some great high speed sections which are my favourite parts of the circuit.”
Rod Nelson, Williams chief test and support engineer
“Sepang international Circuit has a really nice blend of low and high speed corners, with Turns 5 to 8 in particular getting the drivers attention - especially the bump in Turn 6. Turn 13 - 14 is particularly challenging, requiring as it does a good deal of turning and braking at the same time, and there’s a lot of lap time to be had there. There is also the weather to think about in Malaysia as it rains most afternoons, and the annual rainfall is four times that of Silverstone. It’s always hot and humid and new thunderstorms can bubble up particularly quickly. We are looking forward to giving the Williams Mercedes FW36 a good run out on its first permanent racing circuit of the year.”
Jenson Button, McLaren
2013 Qualifying - 8th, 2013 Race - 17th
“Australia was a really motivational race for the entire team - even though we still have work to do, it feels like we’ve turned a corner, and that we have a race car we can definitely work with this year.
“It’s important that we keep pushing hard on the development front - we brought some useful upgrades to Melbourne, and it was encouraging that they worked straight out of the box, but it’s essential that we keep pushing new items through the development pipeline, especially at these flyaway races, where it’s harder to bring new parts to the circuit.
“Sepang is a great driver’s circuit, and even if we don’t have the overall downforce we want, we should have the balance and driveability to make the car work. And that’s really encouraging, because it means we go into a race weekend knowing that we can usually get the maximum from the car during the sessions and the race. Even if we don’t yet have the pace to take the fight to the frontrunners, we should have a car that’s decent in every sector, and which we’ll be able to hustle through the race - and that definitely counts for something.”
Kevin Magnussen, McLaren
2013 Qualifying - n/a 2013 Race - n/a
“There’s been no chance for a break since our encouraging result in Australia. Jenson and I both went back to Europe and spent a couple of days at the MTC to assess our performance in Melbourne and to work on our preparations for Malaysia.
“Equally, the designers and engineers have been working hard. We showed in Australia that we can score good points if our car is reliable, and we need to consolidate that over the next few races - and one of the ways to do that is to make sure that we’re bringing new parts to the track as fast as, if not faster, than our chief rivals.
“Sepang is a very different type of track from Albert Park: Melbourne was all about slow-speed corners and mechanical balance, whereas Malaysia is a real high-speed circuit, the corners are much faster and there’ll be more of an emphasis on aerodynamic performance.
“I think it’ll be a tougher test than Australia - the ambient temperatures will make it tougher for the drivers; and the track temperatures will be higher too, which will make it harder on the tyres. My aim will be to score more points - consistency is going to be very important for the championship - and to keep learning, especially in such a different environment.
“I’m really looking forward to it - the car feels fantastic to drive, and I hope we’ll have another good weekend.”
Eric Boullier, McLaren racing director
“The fact that we are leading the constructors’ championship is a testament to the underlying strength and hunger of the organisation: in Melbourne, we didn’t have the strongest car, but we were able to manage the race superbly: we executed perfect strategies on both cars, Jenson and Kevin each drove faultlessly, and our engineers and mechanics made sure our cars operated with only minimal problems across the whole weekend.
“The aim for Malaysia will be to consolidate the position we currently have: we need to close the gap to the front, and we’ll be pushing aggressively on the development front to ensure that the upgrades we bring to this race do just that. But speed counts for nothing without reliability, and our focus will be to ensure we stay on top of things to ensure we operate both cars across the weekend without any problems.
“Equally, back at MTC, we’re pushing hard to ensure that the supply chain from factory to track is further refined: ours is a battle of constant development; and while we’ve seen one team emerge at the front, it’ll be the constant, iterative developments that will upset the order.
“We’ve got some productive programmes in the windtunnel, and our aim now is to turn these projects to reality as soon as we possibly can - this is where the championship fight will be won or lost.”
Jules Bianchi, Marussia
2013 Qualifying - 19th, 2013 Race - 13th
“There were some good signs for us in Melbourne, but also a few challenges which got in the way of our progress, which was obviously quite frustrating. Overall, it has been really good to have the maximum information to look at with the engineers and what we have learned from that will be really helpful for us. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car and hoping for a more straightforward weekend in Malaysia, and one where we can really push the car a little more to explore its potential. Having said that, this is by no means an easy race; a very different challenge to Melbourne. Sepang is hard on the team and the drivers, and also the car, with tougher circuit characteristics and of course the heat and humidity. So it is a difficult environment in which to push everything harder, but that is what we must do and bring home a good result.”
Max Chilton, Marussia
2013 Qualifying - 21st, 2013 Race - 16th
“I left Melbourne feeling pretty positive about our 2014 debut. We have a few things to iron out to give ourselves a better run at qualifying and the race, but I’m confident that we will see the first signs of progress with that this weekend in Malaysia. Our early level of reliability is quite encouraging and we’ve had two cars’ worth of data from the race to work with to really help us to troubleshoot our systems, so there are some really good signs at this stage. We still have some way to go to be able to gauge the true performance level of the car and we need to keep making steady in-roads into that to ensure we maintain a good direction. I’m excited to see what Malaysia will bring.”
John Booth, Marussia team principal
“On reflection, our race outcome in Australia was quite positive when we take into account the challenges of the winter, the issues we encountered at the start and the anticipated problems that afflicted the wider field. We completed two race distances in the opening round and the data that has yielded could not have provided us with a better baseline for our development programme. We have spent quite a bit of time since Melbourne analysing that information carefully to enable us to have a more straightforward and successful weekend in Malaysia. Sepang always throws up its own unique challenges, thanks to the combination of fierce heat and a well-timed downpour, but we hope for another positive showing and for two cars to see the chequered flag once again.”
Mattia Binotto, Ferrari engine and electronics deputy director
“After a successful season debut in Melbourne, the Malaysia Grand Prix will provide an important next stage in the development of the cooperation between Scuderia Ferrari and the Marussia F1 Team. When you are at the beginning of a partnership, every day is precious. There are a thousand ways, not only technical but also human, which improve with an ever deeper mutual understanding and, consequently, they do grow on both sides. For Scuderia Ferrari a customer team is not simply a counterpart to provide with a technical supply but also a team with which to work together to grow, which takes on a value even more important in a season that presents a totally new technological challenge, as is the case this year. We have found in the Banbury team the same desire to learn that characterises our own team and that is another reason why we’re happy with the choice we’ve made!”
More to follow.