Sepang track talk with Robert Kubica
Robert talks us through the challenge of Sepang
Sepang is a unique track with a mix of corners: some are seriously quick, but others are slow. The track has a bit of everything, which is why it demands a lot from the car.
The start of the lap is quite low speed and although turns one and two look easy on the circuit map, they are really tricky because the track undulates and it’s hard to get on the power early on the exit of two. The track is wide though, and if you are fighting with another car you can try different lines through the corners to find an advantage.
The middle part of the lap is the section I enjoy the most because it has the high-speed corners, including turns five and six, where you feel the biggest g-forces. Then you’re into turns 7 and 8, which are like a double-apex corner, but you need to look out for a small bump in the middle of the corners, which can unsettle the car.
The lap ends with a really long straight and a heavy braking zone. It’s probably the best overtaking opportunity because the track is so wide and you can try out lots of different lines. Turn 14 is another corner where we see different lines because your approach depends on the characteristics of your car as well as your driving style. Some cars prefer to carry more speed into the apex, but they lose out on the exit of the corner.
Overall it’s a circuit where it’s easy to find a rhythm and because it’s so wide it gives you confidence to really find the limits of the track. Recently the high-speed corners haven’t been too challenging, but I think they will be more demanding this year with the heavier fuel loads. For example, going flat out through turn five last year was easy, but this year it will be more of a challenge.
The climate in Malaysia makes it a physically tough weekend for the whole team. The first time I arrived in Malaysia I could not believe the humidity. As I walked out of the airport it was like walking straight into a sauna! You really feel the heat when you’re in the garage because the heat from the car soaks into your body. There is also a high risk of rain storms, and with the race starting late on Sunday afternoon, we could be in for another wet race.