The second round of the new Formula One season, the 2013 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix, takes place on Sunday 24 March at the Sepang International Circuit, just outside of Kuala Lumpur. The weekend marks the home race for PETRONAS, the title partner of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team.
This weekend will mark the 60th race for the partnership between Mercedes-Benz and PETRONAS
The Safety Car led nearly 15% of the race laps – eight in total – during last year’s race
40% of the corners – six of 15 in total – are taken at speeds over 200 km/h at Sepang
Sepang is one of my favourite tracks on the Formula One calendar. The layout has a little bit of everything with the slow and fast corners making a nice mix. For our team, the Malaysian Grand Prix is also one of our home races as we’re racing in the country of our partner PETRONAS, and it’s always a busy and exciting weekend. Sepang holds some great memories for me as I achieved my first podium for Mercedes here at the start of the 2010 season. 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!
Malaysia is a beautiful country with great weather and great fans who are always so supportive, I’m really looking forward to seeing them. 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. Sepang is a fantastic circuit and one where I haven’t managed to win before. My favourite part of the track is probably turns five and six but it’s always an exciting challenge here with the heat and humidity. I’m very proud of the work that the team have done so far and I know that the guys are pushing hard back in the UK to bring more performance to the car. I hope we can have a positive weekend here and build on the progress that we made in Melbourne and on what we learned from that race.
The first race of the season provided some very encouraging signs for the team; our car performed well and seemed to be competitive in all of the conditions that the Melbourne weather gave us. However, we didn’t quite find the correct balance for the race which compromised our ability to maximise the starting positions of Lewis and Nico. With the second race in Malaysia following this weekend, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to put that right. Malaysia is one of the most special races of the season for our team and it’s a real honour to be celebrating the 15th anniversary of Formula One in the country with our title partner PETRONAS. We all hope to put on a good show this weekend for the Malaysian fans.
The challenge of Sepang will be completely different to what we saw in Melbourne last Sunday. Temperatures are guaranteed to be high and the circuit has many long, sweeping corners that demand consistent aerodynamic performance. All the teams are in a learning process with the new Pirelli tyres, as we saw last weekend with drivers in the same team delivering very different results. Our car showed some good potential at times in Australia and both Lewis and Nico performed strongly in all conditions. So our engineering focus is on improving the base performance and correcting our weaknesses, especially in terms of reliability. Of course, the PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix is also a home race for our MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS team and our long-term title partner. They have supported this race, the sport and our team over many years and we are looking forward to a busy promotional schedule in the next days with the team and drivers. But for all of us, the most important thing is to deliver on the track on Sunday afternoon and that is what we are working hard to do.