Malaysia 2016 - GP Preview - Manor Mercedes
Sepang has thrown up a few surprises over the past 17 years, so we’re looking forward to seeing what’s on the Malaysia Grand Prix menu this weekend!
Asia-Home-Asia. After a brief trip back to our Banbury base following the Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago, we’ve jetted all the way back to Kuala Lumpur for Round 16 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Let’s hear from Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon as they prepare for their first foray in Sepang, and from Racing Director, Dave Ryan.
Pascal, you must have gathered a few air miles, heading home after Singapore. Some good tyre testing under your belt but how challenging is it to keep flying in and out of time zones?
“It’s not so difficult if you plan it right; knowing when to sleep on the plane so you arrive in the best condition. The later you arrive, the better. For me, it’s all part of the job – especially in this phase of the season - but it helps if you keep yourself as fit as possible.”
So, back on Asian asphalt for your first time out at Sepang. What are you expecting from this circuit?
“I’m certainly hoping for better things than in Singapore. That was a great venue and I enjoyed every bit of the experience, especially the night race factor, but it was not such a good weekend for our package. This race has seen very high temperatures and humidity levels in the past. It’s going to be tough, even with the change to a later slot in the calendar, but the fast and flowing circuits give us a better starting point. Plus, the wet tyre testing I had last week will probably come in handy here!”
Esteban, three checkered flags in a row. The races are coming thick and fast for you now.
“Three race distances ticked off is certainly important for me, after starting my F1 career over halfway through the season. It hasn’t all been plain sailing though and in particular Singapore was a tough race in which we made life difficult for ourselves. Still, there’s a lot to look forward to – practice makes perfect and all that - and I’m hoping for better things from here onwards.”
Are you looking forward to your first Malaysia Grand Prix experience?
“Yes, it will be quite a different experience to Singapore, which was characterised by more and slower turns, plus the very different challenge of a street circuit. This one is much faster with longer corners, so more representative of the circuits where our car has performed better. The high temperatures make it tough on the tyres, so we’ll have to work at managing the degradation, plus rain could be a factor - potentially my first wet sessions. I’m looking forward to another new experience.”
Dave, in a calendar that has presented some interesting challenges, is the team ready for a tough Asian back to back?
“Most of the guys in the team got a brief but important break after Singapore, whether it was back at home in the UK or remaining out here in Asia. The cars are pretty much on tour for the rest of the season, so the mechanics at least get some time away from the factory. That’s important, given how intense the calendar is this year. This race is always tough on team, car and driver, because of the high ambient and track temperatures, and also the torrential downpours we’ve seen here over the years. So yes, we’re ready for all of that. We have a few new developments here, which should help us performance-wise, and we’ve made some operational improvements to counter some of the issues we’ve experienced over the past couple of events.”