Sepang Friday 28 March 2014
The first practice sessions for the PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix took place today in the heat of the Sepang circuit.
– Nico and Lewis completed a total of precisely 100 laps during today’s two practice sessions, just short of the 105 laps completed last year on Friday
– Lewis ran his Melbourne Power Unit all day, following the resolution of the problem with the ignition system that caused his misfire in Australia
– The top six cars in the second session were covered by just 0.203s – equivalent to just 12 metres or two and a half car lengths
It was crazy conditions out there. In the very, very warm temperatures, it’s a huge challenge to get everything right. The cars are on the edge and the tyre degradation was higher than expected today – we are sliding a bit more this year, perhaps because of the reduced downforce levels. We are still having some small issues and therefore we were not able to maximize everything today. The quickest teams seem to be closer together than in Australia, so we still have work to do overnight to improve our level of performance.
I’m happy with our progress over the two sessions today and we were able to complete our programme. The car feels good and our focus was on trying to understand the tyres and make sure the balance is right for the weekend. There are areas where we can improve so we’re keeping focused on our own work, rather than being distracted by what the others are doing. It was pretty tough with the temperature and humidity and it’s so important to keep hydrated here. We would love a good result this weekend, particularly as it is the home race for PETRONAS, but it’s impossible to predict what will happen at this stage. It’s one of the trickiest races of the year so we just have to make sure we tick all the boxes and that it all comes together for us.
We had an incident-free day but not an easy one, as we worked hard to adapt to the challenging conditions here in Sepang. The high temperatures mean we have to adapt both the cooling package and the set-up of the car to cope and we worked through that programme diligently today. It’s not easy to draw any firm conclusions yet about performance; we will keep working hard overnight and see how we compare tomorrow when it counts.
In first practice, we ran a programme with two different fuel loads while tuning the car to the conditions. Malaysia is one of the hottest races on the calendar and it’s important to do our homework to make sure we are in the right shape for the race. The drivers were reasonably happy with the balance and reported no major issues. This afternoon, we ran both tyres on low fuel, before conducting long runs – first on the option tyre, then changing to the prime, and gathering important information for the race. We didn’t encounter any significant problems today, which allowed us to concentrate fully on the performance and endurance tuning of the car.