Malaysian GP: Heat, Rain, and Good Memories
This weekend’s race at Sepang will be the sixteenth Malaysian Grand Prix. All of them have been held at the 5.543 kilometre track, which is one of the most interesting on the calendar, notable for its suffocating heat, sudden downpours and high speed corners. Ferrari has won six times here, equivalent to a 40% success rate.
The first race dates back to 1999 and marked Michael Schumacher’s return to the cockpit after his accident in Silverstone. At the time, Eddie Irvine was still in the running for the title and Michael, always a team player, did his best to help him. Having taken pole, Michael let his team-mate by and then became an insurmountable wall for Mika Hakkinen in the McLaren, thus taking second place for himself and keeping Irvine’s championship chances alive to the very last race.
Schumacher won here the following year, when he was already World Champion and again in 2001, when it rained in the race and Ferrari secured a memorable one-two. Having gone off at the same corner Michael and Rubens Barrichello dropped down the order and both came in for intermediates, confident the downpour would be brief. It turned out to be the right choice and they worked their way back to first and second.
Michael also won here in 2004, the year of his seventh and final title with the Maranello Scuderia. After a three year absence from the top spot in Malaysia, Kimi Raikkonen secured victory for Ferrari in 2008, with team-mate Felipe Massa following him for 31 laps before going off at half distance.
The last win for the Scuderia dates back to 2012 and the trophy bears the name Fernando Alonso, who on a wet track, managed to get the most out of the F2012, fending off the hard charging Sergio Perez in the Sauber.
Malaysia was also the scene of the last race to be red flagged and not restarted, with half points being assigned. That happened back in 2009, when for the first time, the race start was given at 17h00. Heavy rain went on for much longer than expected, which meant a long wait on the grid, but by the time the rain had eased off enough to make racing possible again, night had fallen on the Sepang track. Jenson Button in the Brawn was declared the winner.
Source: Ferrari Media