F1 Power Rankings: Malaysia Grand Prix

Two weeks removed from the season opener in Melbourne, Australia, and there are two things that F1 fans are hoping for: 1) More than 11 cars crossing the line at the end of the race; and 2) A race that isn’t so ungodly boring that it puts people to sleep in the middle of it. Our first trip to a Hermann Tilke designed track may help us answer the question of which of the Mercedes drivers will have the advantage this year and who is the favourite in the battle for 2nd in the Constructors’ Championship.

f1-lewis-hamilton-helmet-2015#1 Lewis Hamilton
For Old Louise Hamilton, it’s all about keeping the momentum going: “Australia was a great way to start. To pick up where we left off last year was awesome. But if 2014 showed anything, it’s that putting together a whole season is never easy. Winning the first race is just one small step in a long journey and I’m not reading anything into it. The next step is Malaysia and that’s all I’ve been focusing on since we left Melbourne.”

f1-nico-rosberg-helmet-2015#2 Nico Rosberg
I think Keke’s kid is going into full PR mode over Mercedes dominance: ” To start off the year with such dominance was just amazing and the team really did an incredible job. Of course, I’m disappointed not to have repeated my win from 2014 – but Lewis was on top form and it’s up to me to find that little bit extra. It’s all set up to be another great battle between us this year and I’m ready for the fight. Hopefully we will also have some other competitors pushing us as hard as we push each other, as this would be great for the sport.”

f1-sebastian-vettel-helmet-2015#3 Sebastian Vettel
Pirelli boss Paul Hembery says that the tyres are getting worked this season: “The Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago confirmed what we saw in testing: lap times that are two seconds or more faster this year compared to last year, in every session. This exponentially increases the workload on the tyres: something that will be particularly in evidence at Sepang, which has some of the most abrasive asphalt we race on all year and a number of fast corners that take a lot of energy out of the tyres, as well as high ambient temperatures.”

f1-valtteri-bottas-helmet-2015#4 Valtteri Bottas
After missing the Aussie GP due to his back, #BO77AS worked extra hard to get ready for Malaysia: ” After Melbourne I have stayed in Asia to acclimatise to the hot conditions and adjust to the right time zone. I trained a lot over the winter to prepare for these physically difficult conditions. After such a frustrating Sunday in Australia, I have taken the necessary measures to make sure I arrive in Malaysia fit to race and ready to bring the results home.”

f1-felipe-massa-helmet-2015#5 Felipe Massa
Old Phil might win generic PR quotage of the week: ” Malaysia is always very hot and very humid, so very difficult physically for the drivers. The car also has its challenges as the temperature plays its part, so our cooling is very important. The rain is an issue as it always rains at the time of day when the race is, but we will be prepared for it.”

#6 Kimi Raikkonen

f1-daniel-ricciardo-helmet-2015#7 Daniel Ricciardo
Danny Boy explains how to deal with the heat in Malaysia: “I think once you’re in the car it’s hard, the work is done before getting in it. Hydration is really, really important and keeps you cooler. The more hydrated you are, the more your body dispatches the heat. And do some heat training before the event to make it feel like it’s not as hot, but once you’re in the car, it’s like a sauna and you can’t get out of it.”

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2015#8 Romain Grosjean
The Lotus boys crack the top ten of the Power Rankings. Coincidentally, that’s where Grosjean wants to be in the race: “Our target for the early races is to be regularly in the top ten. We certainly demonstrated that in Albert Park and our race pace simulations were good so if we’d remained in the race we should have finished strongly. There’s nothing to suggest this can’t be the case in Malaysia and we really want to start scoring points.”

f1-pastor-maldonado-helmet-2015#9 Pastor Maldonado
Where does Crashtor think he could have finished if he didn’t crash in the second turn of the season: “Everything looked very positive for a strong top ten finish, maybe even top five. Our car was strong and we adapted to the track well. The weather was in our favour and we had great potential.”

f1-felipe-nasr-helmet-2015#10 Felipe Nasr
New Phil has high hopes for this weekend: “After a successful season opener in Melbourne, I think the Malaysian Grand Prix can be one of the races we can look forward to. The track consists of some long straights and fasts corners, so I would expect a bigger tyre degradation. On the other hand, it is positive that our car seems to have a decent straight line speed, but I think some more downforce could help us to gain time in the high-speed corners.”

#11 Max Verstappen

#12 Carlos Sainz

f1-daniil-kvyat-helmet-2015#13 Daniil Kvyat
Daniil Boy didn’t have any particularly interesting things to say but he did use profanity. That’s gotta count for something: “It’s a tough race and challenging race for a driver because it’s known for being so hot. This is why we train quite hard and get our arses kicked during the winter season by our trainers! Sepang is one of those races where you see where you are in terms of your physical preparation.”

#14 Nico Hulkenberg
The Hulk has a fairy tale for you about the Tortoise and the Hare: “We knew the VJM08’s reliability was one of our strong points and we were able to play that card well. We didn’t make any mistakes and we had a good strategy, and that helped us capitalise on a day when others ran into trouble. We need to keep our feet on the ground, however, because we know the circumstances in which we got this result and we know the next races will be tough.”

f1-marcus-ericsson-helmet-2015#15 Marcus Ericsson
ME is gearing up for a tough weekend in Malaysia: “The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of the toughest on the calendar, because of the high humidity and heat. It means you need to be in good physical shape, and I am sure I am. I have been training very hard over the winter, and before the race in Sepang I have spent one week at a training camp in Thailand getting acclimatised to the humidity. I am sure I will be one hundred percent ready when I get to Malaysia.”

#16 Sergio Perez
Checo is setting his sights low after a double-points finish in Australia: “We are still learning a lot about the full potential of the VJM08 and every time we hit the track we are going to find some improvements. We are aware of the work needed to make our car more competitive, but we also know it is going to take time. The car feels really promising but it needs development and I look forward to getting some upgrades soon.”

f1-fernando-alonso-helmet-2015#17 Fernando Alonso
Fernando’s back for his first race of the season: “The weekend will be tough, but I’m looking forward to getting into the MP4-30 for the first time in a Grand Prix and getting back to racing. I’ve spent some time in the simulator back at the factory with the team, and my focus will be on continuing the development of our package with my engineers, and working on our balance and race set-up. There’s a lot of potential in the car and we will keep pushing every race until we see results.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2015#18 Jenson Button
Set your expectations low and you might surprise yourself: “Malaysia will be another tricky step in the learning process for us. It’s often an unpredictable race and the extreme temperatures will test our car and tyres to limits that they haven’t been exposed to yet in testing. With the possibility of rain added to the mix, it will be interesting to see how our car behaves in changeable conditions. Our aim is to maximise our mileage throughout the whole weekend.”

#19 Roberto Merhi

#20 Will Stevens

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