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Formula 1 at the Malaysia GP this weekend

After a sparkling start to the 2012 season in Australia, Formula 1 has now reached Malaysia at the Sepang International Circuit where the annual Malaysia GP will be held on the 25th March this year. The Sepang circuit, situated 85km from the Kuala Lumpur, has the capacity to accommodate 133,000 spectators. The scheduled Malaysia GP this Sunday will be the 14th F1 race on the magnificent track of Sepang which will witness the epic battle between the top drivers of the world.

The Sepang International Circuit (Image: Formula1.com)

The 5.54 km long circuit was inaugurated in March 1999 after being built in record 14 months. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit has 15 turns and 8 straights. The 2 straights offer advantage to the drivers with strong engines in their cars as they pick up high speed often clocking more than 300 km per hour (186 miles/hr). Minimum width of the track is 16 meters while the maximum width is 22 meters. The quick corners along with the wide straights provide plentiful overtaking opportunities to the drivers. No wonder, this circuit is one of the favorite race tracks of most of the F1 drivers.

Even though lack of support from the Malaysian Govt. and interest of Malaysian locals has been affecting Sepang circuit adversely, back in 1999, it had set the standard for the future race tracks. Tilke, the German designer of the track, went one to design the Formula one circuits in India, Shanghai, Bahrain, Korea, Turkey, Valencia and Singapore.

Aerial view of the Sepang Circuit

Spread over 260 hectares of land, this picturesque circuit is one of its kind as it was built on a concept of ‘natural stadium’. The track is surrounded by more than 5000 palm trees planted to beautify the home of motor sports in Malaysia. Another special aspect of the circuit is that two races can be organised on the track simultaneously as the whole circuit can be split into two circuits: the north side (2.8 km) and the south side (2.6 km).

In the last race in 2011, Redbull’s Sebastian Vettel had won from the pole. Out of the 13 F1 races held on the circuit so far, 7 times world champion Michael Schumacher has won highest 3 races (in 2000, 2001 and 2004). Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikonnen and Fernando Alonso have won 2 times each at Sepang. Interestingly, all these 4 racers will be on the track on Sunday. Among constructors, Ferrari has 5 Malaysia GP wins while McLaren, Redbull and  Renault have 2 each.

Previous F1 Race Results at Malaysia GP

Year

Driver

Constructor

1999Eddie IrvineFerrari
2000Michael SchumacherFerrari
2001Michael SchumacherFerrari
2002Ralf SchumacherWilliams-BMW
2003Kimi RäikkönenMcLaren-Mercedes
2004Michael SchumacherFerrari
2005Fernando AlonsoRenault
2006Giancarlo FisichellaRenault
2007Fernando AlonsoMcLaren-Mercedes
2008Kimi RäikkönenFerrari
2009Jenson ButtonBrawn GP
2010Sebastian VettelRedbull
2011Sebastian VettelRedbull

The race will have a late afternoon start at 4.00 pm local time. Considering the performances of the cars in Australia and the free practice held at Sepang today, it seems the main race on Sunday will again turn out to be a bitter battle between the McLaren and the Redbull. Experienced drivers like Alonso in Ferrari and Schumacher in Mercedes will not be far behind. The fast pace of the track may also help Kimi in the Lotus. As per weather forecasts, rain is another factor which teams will have to take care. If you ask me, my money is on Vettel winning the Malaysia GP for the third consecutive year. Who is your favorite for the race?

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