This post was written by Hugh Ujhazy
With the grand prix set to roar into Malaysia in march, Hugh Ujhazy takes a look at the line up and gets excited about the season ahead.
Everything old is new again. The Year of the Snake for Formula 1 has more twists and turns than any serpent of legend, as drivers change teams, teams come and go, and a young German vies once again for the crown at the pinnacle of global motorsports.
Behind The Wheel
Michael Schumacher may have hung up his helmet for the last time, but the Silver Arrow cars of Mercedes welcome two-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to the prime seat alongside the blond-haired boy wonder Nico Rosberg. Over at the home of the prancing horse, the duo of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa remain from last year. Massa hung on to his seat by pulling out some blistering performances in the second half of the 2012 series, successfully crushing cries for his replacement and any speculation that drivers from some of the second tier teams may take his place.
The revitalized group at Lotus, proudly wearing their black-and-gold livery, will be looking to get comfortable on the podium steps during 2013. With only minor changes to the regulations around the cars and their performance, the investments made during the latter part of 2012 are hoped to deliver a payoff.
The cars themselves haven’t changed much this year, at least on the outside. The strangely corrugated fins and vanes on the front wings, so critical in keeping the cars moving quickly through the twists and turns of the track, look the same as before. Engineers, surely, could point out the varied twist of carbon fiber here, the delicate change in airflow there, but the long points noses with their chaotic mustachios remain. It is suffice to say that these four-wheeled beasts retain their ability to scream down the track, slowing in a crescendo of brake dust and noise before hammering their drivers around tight, 90-degree curves.
The Malaysian Grand Prix remains the second event on the 2013 calendar, and at 4pm on 22 March, the red lights will go out and 22 cars will thunder past the grandstand and pits toward the hairpin at turn one. Accelerating off the start line to over 300 km per hour in a matter of seconds, there is precious little time to enjoy the ride before stomping on the middle pedal to drag the car down to freeway speeds to take the turn, twisting through the tangle of curves before blasting off into the back straight.
In the 2013 season, the race in Australia is the opening curtain for the slate of 19 races – this year, Turkey is a no-show and the German race teeters on a razor’s edge of uncertainty. Getting nicely bedded down in the new cars, the drivers arrive in Malaysia with first blood already drawn and a good understanding of how the competition is shaping up in 2013.
Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit will be a chance for the drivers and teams to reappraise the field: no Michael Schumacher and the looming promise of the talent of the seven-time world champion. Lewis Hamilton in a new car with a new team… will he be brilliant or will he struggle? Ferrari comes in with a new car and new intensity between Alonso and Massa, while the boys at Lotus are looking to capitalise on 2012 and return to their former glory.
If 2012 was an interesting season, 2013 is the season of the challenge. The snake will turn through many convolutions before the steps of the podium are filled for the last time in Brazil.
Getting A Slice Of The Action
In 2012, Malaysia hosted the race after a sparkling weekend of hot days and dry track. The weather was overcast during the preliminaries leading up to the start of the race, but the first few laps saw the track receiving a good bath and challenged the tightly packed cars as they negotiated the racing line around Sepang.
Last year’s race was wet, with cars throwing up rooster tails of spray and spectators on the hillside and outdoor stands hunkering under a festive show of umbrellas as they rushed for protection from the downpour. The drivers’ challenge was harder, as they sought to maintain speed and position on a slippery track.
The tickets this year will be similar in price to last years, offering a face-to-face show for the lowest entry price of any F1 on earth. Though Sunday afternoon will be the start of 90 minutes of F1 action, support races from GP2 and Malaysian MSS will take place before, and the subsequent practice and qualifying laps ensure that “petrol heads” will get their fill of action in March.
When thinking about coming out to the track, consider getting seats in the K grandstand at the end of the start/finish straight. No, its not the one right on the start/finish line, but it gives a stunning view of the start, an incredible impression of speed as the cars race into the first turn, and a panoramic view of the front half of the track. If on a budget, think about the hillside around turn nine, where the cars must slow dramatically for the blind turn and chances of spins are greatly increased. Don’t forget to bring an umbrella, sunscreen, and plenty to drink for the weekend.
The Formula 1 Malaysia Grand Prix runs from 24-25 March. Information and ticketing details can be found on www.malaysia-grand-prix.com.
Source: The Expat March 2013
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- Eight Fantastic Racing Events in Malaysia 2013
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