Brawn expects car to be fast in Sepang Following a sensational debut race weekend in Australia where Jenson Button led Brawn GP to its first Grand Prix victory, the team headed straight to Malaysia for Round Two of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.
This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 5 April at the Sepang International Circuit close to Kuala Lumpur. The 56-lap race is one of the toughest on the calendar due to the punishing heat and humidity coupled with the challenge of the circuit's demanding corners, long straights and bumpy asphalt.
This year's race will be the 11th to be held at the Herman Tilke designed track which was built on the site of a 260-hectare swamp. The 5.54km (3.44 mile) circuit sees the cars average 210kph (130mph) around its 15 turns.
Brawn GP will be hoping to build on its successful weekend in Melbourne which sees the team leading the Constructors' Championship with 18 points and Jenson Button leading the Drivers' Championship with 10 points.
Ross Brawn, Team Principal Q. A dream start to the season in Australia. Can you follow up that level of performance in Malaysia? "The Australian Grand Prix weekend was a fantastic experience for our team and the one-two result for Jenson and Rubens went beyond our hopes and expectations for our very first race. We know that our competitors will not stand still however and that the challenge will become ever more difficult from here. We can rise to that challenge and we have a very good and stable car which should go well around the Sepang circuit.
As in Australia, we will need to maximize the practice running that we have on Friday to develop the set-up, and we will be faced with the usual reliability concerns caused by the high temperatures that we expect in Malaysia. As the race is later than usual in the calendar and will take place later in the day, we are expecting some rain showers which will make the strategy for the weekend very interesting."
Jenson Button Q. With such an impressive opening weekend, what are your thoughts ahead of the second race of the season? "After the amazing weekend that we experienced in Melbourne, the whole team was keen to get to Malaysia and start racing again. However the Malaysian Grand Prix is always one of the toughest races of the season and it will be a real challenge for our new car with so little testing under our belts. Malaysia has a really hot and humid climate which really tests the car's durability and coupled with the frequent torrential downpours can make for an unpredictable race weekend. It's a tough place for the drivers as the heat in the cockpit can be unbearable and tests the limit of your fitness and concentration. You have to work hard to find a good balance for the car at Sepang and it can be challenging for the tires to work well for the whole lap. Malaysia is a special circuit for me as I achieved my first podium here back in 2004 so I'm hoping that this weekend will provide some more happy memories!"
Rubens Barrichello Q. What are the particular challenges of the Malaysian Grand Prix? "The Malaysian Grand Prix is always a really tough race but if you can cope well with the heat and humidity, it is a track that the drivers enjoy. It's a real engineering challenge to find the right balance and you need to have a car with good aerodynamics to find time around the lap. The intense heat puts pressure on the engine, brakes and the drivers as the temperature can rise above 50 degrees in the cockpit so you have to be well-prepared and ensure you are fully-hydrated. Our team had a really good race weekend in Australia and the car performed as we expected, however we anticipate that our competitors to be closer this time so we will be working extra hard to improve on our performance from last weekend."
Sepang International Circuit Stats Circuit Length: 5.543km Race Distance: 310.408km Number of Laps: 56
Full Throttle: 68% Brake Wear: Medium / Hard Tire Compounds: Soft / Hard Downforce Level: High 8/10 Tire Usage: Hard Average Speed: 210kph (130mph) Source: Brawn GP
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