F1 Power Rankings: Malaysia Grand Prix

We’re only days removed from the excitement of the season opener in Australia but it’s time to gear up for the second round of the 2013 Formula One World Championship. This time, it’s the Malaysia Grand Prix from the Sepang International Circuit. More often than not, the Malaysian round of the championship features heavy rain but will the forecast favour the Mercedes which is quite happy in the rain or the dry Tilke circuit loving Red Bulls?

f1-kimi-raikkonen-helmet-2013#1 Kimi Raikkonen (Last Race #5)
See, Kimi really does know what he’s doing: “A win’s a win, it doesn’t really matter when in the season you get it. Of course I’m happy that we didn’t really have to go full speed all the time so it’s kind of a good sign, a good race for us, but as I said, it might be a completely different story in Malaysia, so there’s nothing to jump up and be so extra happy about.”

#2 Sebastian Vettel (LR #1)
Seb talks about what drivers think of winning at Malaysia: “It’s a very rewarding circuit for a driver to win, as it’s such a tough challenge with the heat and high-speed corners. It’s rewarding, as it shows you have prepared well over the winter, so I guess my favourite memories are winning in 2010 and 2011.”

#3 Fernando Alonso (LR #3)
Fernando talks about how it appears that tyres will again be a deciding factor this season: “We saw a car that started seventh and finished first, and a car that started fifth and finished second. So that means that the situation of tyre management is crucial this year. But, if you are able to do that and be able to start on pole, it would be the perfect scenario.”

#4 Mark Webber (LR #7)
@AussieGrit has some tips on surviving Malaysia’s heat and humidity: “Drink a lot of water, wear light clothes and of course stay in the aircon as much as you can – although that’s not something that helps much when we’re driving! It’s important to acclimatize as much as possible.”

#5 Felipe Massa (LR #8)
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali disagrees with #1 driver Alonso and says that tyres aren’t as important as everyone thinks: “There are so many things that will change in the next couple of races in terms of understanding, in terms of race preparation, in terms of tyre management. Strategy is important, but I still put reliability in front of everything because if you don’t finish you don’t score points.”

#6 Lewis Hamilton (LR #4)
Lewis Hamilton talks about how excited he is to do all sorts of sponsor appearances this weekend. Someone call The Iceman to talk some sense into him: “This weekend feels a little like a home race for the team with all of the activities for our title partner Petronas. I’m really looking forward to having my first visit to the top of the famous Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday before the weekend gets underway.”

#7 Nico Rosberg (LR #10)
Keke’s kid is hoping that this weekend is very wet because that’s where his W04 excelled in Australia: “The conditions this weekend will be much hotter than in Australia so it will be a good test to see how the cars perform in such a different environment and how we can adapt to that. It often rains heavily and from my experience with the performance of the car in the rain in Melbourne, wet conditions would certainly be welcomed by me!”

#8 Adrian Sutil (LR #12)
Sutil is hoping for rain as he thinks it’ll level the playing field in his favour. So what does going for an alternative tyre strategy do: “In the rain it’s easier sometimes to be at the front and race with the top teams, but in the dry it’s more difficult and normally never happens… There are opportunities, and if you believe in it, you can take those chances.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2013#9 Romain Grosjean (LR #9)
I think that Grosjean really loves this track. I mean REALLY loves this track: “Sepang is probably my favourite track of the whole season. I first raced there in 2008 as part of the GP2 Asia Series and I really loved the circuit. It’s nice and wide, with fast flowing corners and a lot of undulation which makes it great fun to drive. The last corner is a tricky one, but I enjoy everything about racing there.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2013#10 Jenson Button (LR #2)
Jenson’s already written-off this weekend: “For this weekend, I don’t think we can expect an improvement in our fortunes, but the thing about Malaysia is that it can be so unpredictable – particularly with the later start time on Sunday afternoon, which tends to see late-afternoon showers fall…That’s something that could play into our hands – I do enjoy driving in changeable conditions, and would love the challenge of being able to run competitively in a car that we all know is not quite capable of challenging for victories yet.”

f1-sergio-perez-helmet-2013#11 Sergio Perez (LR #6)
I might just run quotes of McLaren’s drivers getting down on the team all season at this rate: “Last weekend’s race was a difficult one for everybody on the team, but it’s shown us exactly what we need to do to close down the gap to the leaders. This weekend in Malaysia will be about trying to maximise the package we have while knowing that it’s not going to be enough to allow us to fight for overall victory.”

#12 Paul di Resta (LR #13)
Dario’s cousin really likes this track. I think it’s terrible: “I think it is probably one of the most complete tracks of the season. It was the very first of the new generation tracks and it has nice flowing sections, some slow bits, as well as high-speed chicanes. I think it’s one of the better tracks on the calendar.”

f1-nico-hulkenberg-helmet-2013#13 Nico Hulkenberg (LR #11)
You know what might really suit your car, Hulk? Getting the fuel system to work: “Compared to Melbourne, the track in Malaysia has different characteristics. It’s a fast track with long high-speed corners, which should suit our car well. For the drivers Malaysia is always a challenge because of the high temperatures and the humidity.”

#14 Daniel Ricciardo (LR #15)

#15 Jean-Eric Vergne (LR #16)

f1-esteban-gutierrez-helmet-2013#16 Esteban Gutierrez (LR #14)
Gutierrez was the highest finishing rookie last time out but I wouldn’t call him the best rookie: “With the experience of an entire race here in Melbourne, I can now look at where I can improve as a driver and where we can improve as a team. Sepang is a good track, which I know from GP2. Now I’m looking forward to driving the track in a Formula One car.”

#17 Valtteri Bottas (LR #17)
Val wasn’t particularly happy with his first Grand Prix but he points out that he brought the home in one piece. Better than we can often say for Pastor: “I learnt a lot from my first Grand Prix in Australia and whilst we weren’t as competitive as we had hoped, the fact that I brought the car home safely in my first race is a positive I can take away and we will now be looking to improve on our performance for this race.”

#18 Pastor Maldonado (LR #18)
Pastor gives us his typical generic quotage: “Malaysia is one of my favourite circuits and it’s also one of the most challenging, testing your skill and concentration towards the end of the race as the heat takes its toll on you physically. The weather conditions can change in an instant and in the last couple of years the weather has gone from 40 degree heat to thunderstorms and heavy rain, with extreme changes in track temperature as well.”

#19 Jules Bianchi (LR #20)
Jules thinks that he adapted well to being thrown head first into a racing seat: “There were quite a lot of new things to be faced with, including driving a race of that distance for the first time and bringing together everything that I had learned in the days before. This week I have had the chance to think everything through – what I have learned and where I need to go from here. I had a good debrief with my engineering team and I feel very comfortable, so now I start to think about Malaysia.”

#20 Charles Pic (LR #19)
Even if he has a bad weekend, Chuck is going to be pretty busy this week: “Whatever happens on Sunday it’s going to be a really good week. Tony’s invited us to check out a basketball game in Kuala Lumpur and we’re going to be at the Pavilion Shopping Centre on Wednesday afternoon to meet the fans, as well as going to see GE’s offices in KL, so we’re going to meet a lot of people who support us and that’s a great feeling for me and the whole team.”

f1-max-chilton-helmet-2013#21 Max Chilton (LR #22)
Max The Axe likes his team’s progress over the off-season: “It’s time to start thinking about Round 2 in Malaysia this weekend and what we can do to build the momentum. We have shown how close we are to the midfield, so getting within striking distance of that pack is our next target and that is what I’m focusing on… After such a positive start to the season and an obviously competitive car, I can’t wait for the next opportunity to drive it this weekend.”

#22 Giedo van der Garde (LR #21)
Gary hopes that the high temperatures lead to an improvement in fortunes: “On track Sepang gives us an interesting challenge. We haven’t seen track temperatures in pre-season or in Australia close to what we’ll have this week and as the circuit evolves quite a bit over the weekend managing degradation levels from Friday through to Sunday will be critical, but we saw in Australia that our car performed well on the primes so we’ll look to build on that this weekend.”

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