2008 Malaysian GP preview: rain & road

Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher, Sepang, 2001, 470150

The prospects of a wet Malaysian Grand Prix are growing every day. And the new surface at Sepang will make the race even harder to predict.

A wet Malaysian Grand Prix?

It’s looking a distinct possibility at the moment. The Malaysian government’s weather website warns of thunderstorms during the afternoon on all three days of the Grand Prix weekend. It has rained on the past two days.

This weather radar shows how much heavy rain is in the area – you have to zoom in a bit to find Sepang, which is to the south of Kuala Lampur. They predict a 60% chance of rain on each of the days the F1 cars are on track.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the weather and if anything significant pops up I’ll post it on my Twitter feed which you can also view here. If anyone who reads this blog is in the region and has some local tips, please post it below.

The last wet Malaysian Grand Prix was in 2001 and, as we learned, extremely heavy rain can blow in at very short notice, and just as quickly dry up again.

What about the new track surface?

Sepang International Circuit, 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix

Sepang was entirely re-surfaced ten months ago. But there were complaints about the quality of the work so it was partly re-done in August last year at turns one, four, seven, eight, nine and part of 15.

It’s not been popular with everyone – the Moto GP riders found the new surface far more abrasive than before when they raced there following the second re-surfacing. The A1 Grand Prix teams reported no such problems but that series uses a hard specification tyre.

The F1 teams will have the two hardest options available to them – ‘medium’ and ‘hard’. Of course if it does rain and they switch to wet weather rubber they are no longer required to use both types of dry weather tyre.

The track also has new tarmac run-off areas at several corners, and the paddock area has had some new construction work.

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33 comments on 2008 Malaysian GP preview: rain & road

  1. Maybe this is a sign of what teams were using the buggy part of the code and are therefore hitting gremlins due to the removal of the bug?

  2. John said on 20th March 2008, 0:15

    Toyota’s problems were caused by an ECU problem?  Holy cow, I thought the ECU thing was a bit of a snore but if one can make a car leap into the air and then disintegrate, maybe I should be paying closer attention ;)

    BTW, I don’t know if "spaniard in the works" is a common twist of that phrase, but it had me holding my sides!

  3. "A Spaniard in the works" is an old joke – title of a book by John Lennon.  I just thought it was appropriate in this context, although I refuse to say which particular Spaniard I was thinking of.  :D

  4. Melanie said on 20th March 2008, 0:44

    Apparently Ferrari did know that Kimi’s engine was slowly dying during the race, the spectators also said that Kimi’s engine sounded strange for quite a while before he stopped. The same problem was also related to the qualifying problem that Kimi had. Massa’s engine stopped for exactly the same reason. Which they claim has something to with the valves, and they according to Di Montezemolo the problem has now been fixed.

    Nothing else major has really changed with the engine freeze in place, the only major component is the ECU, so Ferrari must make sure that all the programs are compatible with existing ones.

  5. Melanie said on 20th March 2008, 1:05

    Trulli’s problem with the overheating battery yes, obviously not Glock.

  6. Powerline 2008 said on 20th March 2008, 5:47

    It’s not just going to be heavy rain in Malaysia but a raging thunderstorm. The tracks are on a flat piece of ground where the driving wind can just sweep across the tracks. There are no hills nearby to act as a buffer.

  7. it will be tough for driver’s..
    too humid and hot

  8. For a spaniard, could someone tell me what does "A Spaniard in the works" mean?, In wich context?. Thanks.

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 20th March 2008, 10:30

    Santiago, see comment 18.

  10. Keith I have already read that comment. Literally in Spanish mean a spaniard labouring, but I´m pretty sure in English means something very different, and comming from great John Lennon means much more than a simple phrase, but I´m not that clever to catch it ( maybe becouse I´m Spaniard ). I mean that we twist words in my lenguage, like everybody does in their lenguage, but I´m unable to catch some English expressions.

  11. I´ll give you an example, while you fit in his shoes we got in his skin. Quite weird, isnt it?

  12. D Winn said on 20th March 2008, 11:25

    Its a play on words from ‘throw a spanner in the works’
    To throw a spanner in the works means to ruin or frustrate some system or plan, usually by accident.
    Imagine dropping a spanner (wrench) into a gearbox while it was running !

  13. Thanks D Winn. I just read that from the Wikipedia, but still I was unable to fully understand the phrase To throw a spanner in the works. Now it is clearer to me. These blogs teach more than F1, and will mixe cultures, wich is a good thing nowadays. 

  14. I must think anyway that the last Spaniard in the works was poor Kovalainen, and next one could be the whole of the pilots. Can somebody imagine that no-one crosses the finish line? Are we thinking that these chaps are unable to keep their cars on the road with heavy rain?. Could the race be suspended if a storm falls over, for safety reasons?.

    Too many questions?

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