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Round two of the 2012 championship takes place at Sepang in Malaysia and with only one week between the opening two races teams are kept busy.
McLaren lead the field in Australia and with long straights and high speeds at Malaysia it looks like in theory that Mclaren again may lead the way in with its Mercedes powered engine sure to add an advantage to its closest rival for now Red Bull. The nature of the high speed sweeping corners in sector two and three in which Red Bull have proving their worth may just provide enough balance for the Bulls to keep the gap closed over a lap.
Mercedes themselves after a strong showing in the opening race may prove to be the only cars able to keep up in a straight line to McLaren but with Lotus showing good form but bad luck in Melbourne and Ferrari still hard to judge Sepang is sure to dial out a top four in the team pecking order.
Weather has always been an issue at Sepang and with rain forecast for race day we may have out first taste of wet weather racing in 2012.
Starting a flying lap in Sepang drivers arrive at turn one close to 200Mph and again like turn one in Australia boasts the circuits fastest point, braking heavy for the first gear 180 degree right turn, drivers aim into an almost blind apex that tightens and generates 2.2g of force on the driver as he negotiates the turn, coming without warning and compassion is the equally challenging turn 2 a 180 degree turn left that falls away in height further and requires the drivers to be ready on the exit for the run up to turn 3. Turn 1 and 2 can make for some action and trip ups in the opening lap as so many cars occupy the corner, and in the race it is a prime spot for over taken after the long home straight.
Turn 3 does not show much in the form of a corner more so a curve that sets the pace for the tight hard braking right hand turn 4 which climbs steep uphill to its apex and has in the past brought many of the overtakes seen at this race track in the past. Drivers who make a poor turn 2 exit loose speed up through turn 3 and get caught under braking at turn 4 and are somewhat powerless to stop it.
Turn 5 and 6 are a left right sweeping pair that see the drivers feather the throttle hit speeds of 163Mph on the exit of 6, they also give us the highest G force level on the lap that the driver is subject to at up to 3.96g in turn 5. Great corners to watch and drive but no real chance for overtaken due to the high speeds. Drivers to get this sequence wrong though normally do not continue the race.!
Turn 7 and 8 again are seen as one complex of corners from a driver’s point of view, both right hand turns the entry of turn 7 is flat ground but hard to spot from the cockpit, from a drivers point of view its brake for turn 7 hit the apex, feather the throttle through the mid sequence of the pair working the steering to hit the apex of 8 at full throttle giving good exit speed on the run down to turn 9.
Turn 9 again is somewhat of a hairpin left that offers enough camber on the exit, this means the track tilts higher on the outside of the corner more so than it does on the inside. This gives a rollercoaster type effect which holds the car on the track as the drivers take the curve, should drivers hit the sweet spot of a perfect apex on entry. Drivers arriving too quick at turn 9 either lose a lot of ground trying to slow and turn the car, or simply hop over the raised exit of the turn into the gravel and into retirement.
Turn 10 much like turn 3 is more of a curve than a corner and leads to the right hander of turn 11 which has not showing much in overtaking or any other action than drivers who get it wrong and run off into the gravel trap on the exit which usually results in a DNF. The exit also marks the end of sector 2.
Sector 3 consists of mainly straights but turns 12, 13, 14 and 15. While not great for trackside or sometimes TV viewing 12, 13 and 14 can be a challenge for drivers on wore tires or heavy fuel loads. Turn 12 and 13 are taking in a continuous motion sweeping hard left in 12 and powering the way through the right hander of 13 which never seems to end and makes turn 14 a real challenge for drivers to maintain good cornering speed and good exit speed as the run down the back straight is prime overtaking ground.
The last corner is turn 15 again a hairpin, a long and open left which has seen some major overtaken and action packed incidents in the past so it is one to watch out for.! The pit lane entry also comes off the right of the exit of 15. Overtaking here is a high probability as drivers arrive at near top speed and use all the braking the car will give them or as little as they dare to risk, again good turn in point with good exit speed is vital as the main straight and the finish line lay ahead.
DRS will be enabled along the main straight in Seapang 5metres after turn 15.
DRS detection lays 207 metres before turn 15, the speed trap is also located here.
Johnny Herbert again is the steward’s assistant.
Last Year Pole : Sebastian Vettel. 1:34.870
Last Year Winner: Sebastian Vettel