The usual mix of high heat and storms at Sepang

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix weather

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Sepang, 2012Formula One makes its annual visit to Malaysia at the tail end of the Northeast monsoon, a season which sees heavy rainfall.

This is the 15th running of the Malaysian Grand Prix (the 13th since it moved to the beginning of the calendar) so the teams are well used to the punishing heat and humidity of race as well as the regular rainstorms which occuer at this time of year.

Most weather forecasts for Sepang will show thunderstorms on all three days of the F1 weekend, plus many of the days before and after. But their hit-and-miss nature means it’s far from certain they’ll play a role in what happens on the circuit.

The storms tend to arrive around late afternoon and early evening, as one did today. They usually strike fast, deluging the track with water, but once they pass the high ambient temperature aids evaporation.

There have been several of examples of such rain showers in recent years: during last year’s race, qualifying in 2010 and a spectacular downpour in 2009.

On the latter occasion the start time had been moved back to 5pm, but owing to the downpour and the arrival of sunset soon afterwards, the race had to be abandoned.

A similar situation forced the postponement of qualifying in Australia last week. However following the 2009 debacle the start time for the Malaysian round was moved an hour forward. This year’s race starts at 4pm, with sunset at 7:23pm, which will give them some time to work with if a major storm arrives.

The conditions are expected to be fairly consistent across all three days, with temperatures above 30C and the ever-present threat of rain. The storms can arrive so quickly teams may not spot them on their radars.

There will be regular updates on the track conditions during each session on F1 Fanatic Live and the F1 Fanatic Twitter account.

Location of Sepang

The Sepang International Circuit is located just south of Kuala Lumpur and around 300km from Singapore, where the 13th round of the championship will be held in September.

See the location of every race on the 2013 F1 calendar here:

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

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25 comments on The usual mix of high heat and storms at Sepang

  1. Slr (@slr) said on 21st March 2013, 13:47

    I hope qualifying is wet like it was three years ago so that there’s a chance of a mixed up grid.

  2. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 21st March 2013, 14:19

    I hope for no delays and no safety cars, otherwise the rest of my weekend’s plans are sent into disarray.

    My shopping plans aside, on the one hand a dry race is nice so we can see the ‘true’ pecking order, on the other hand there will be plenty of dry races to come, so in the meantime some wet uninterrupted sessions (except for FPx) would be very welcome.

    Rain or shine, I expect Webber and Bottas to have good weekends, and one of the Toro Rosso drivers to score a point. If Button is to “do an Alonso” in early 2013, he needs the rain, and the McLaren looked respectable in the wet so far, so he might be able to get a decent result, too. Finally, Rosberg was positively raring to go in the wet of Melbourne, so if it rains I think I’ll put his name down, too.

  3. S2G-Unit (@s2g-unit) said on 21st March 2013, 14:21

    I’m afraid of rain again this weekend. Considering how it rains in Malaysia, i’m sure race control will deem conditions too difficult to run & i’m already thinking there will be too many red flags & or safety car because of the weather.

  4. sato113 (@sato113) said on 21st March 2013, 14:24

    this race used to start at 4:30pm local time before 2010? never knew that. what a strange start time.

  5. Osbos (@osbos) said on 21st March 2013, 14:47

    Some rain radars for Sepang:
    120km Range radar
    480km Range radar
    Sepang Circuit is located at the center of both images.

    Peninsular rain radar from met.gov.my

  6. tmax (@tmax) said on 21st March 2013, 15:14

    With Rain, Storm Humidity and all the other good things that can come down from up above…The Race track becomes a mixing bowl. That should be fun. Atleast that can save the otherwise regular procession .

    I know it is hard for the drivers except Button and Rosberg who are looking forward to the rains. As a spectator, this is fun.

    • D (@f190) said on 21st March 2013, 15:39

      Are you really trying to say only Button and Rosberg can drive in the wet. If so I think you need to watch a few races from the past where Alonso, Hamilton , Vettel have all shone in wet conditions.

      • @f190 – I think what @tmax is suggesting is that Button and Rosberg may be closer to those other great wet drivers you have mentioned that they may otherwise have been in the dry, but absolutely I would still expect Vettel and Alonso in particular to have an edge.

        Interestingly, I actually hope the race weekend is bone dry – I would like to be able to see a clear pecking order so we can then say for sure how well each driver is actually performing if China say happened to be a wet race. It may turn out to be “boring” if we have a dry weekend but I think the results will be fascinating nonetheless.

          • D (@f190) said on 21st March 2013, 16:54

            Yeah that makes much more sense ! Thanks for the update @tmax.

            I do agree with you, Rosberg looked great in the wet last weekend and Button ended a wet Q2 in P4, but I think that Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso also perform well in the wet.

            These cars are just so unpredictable in heavy rain, when they aquaplane it’s not really the drivers fault at all, and it can happen to anyone. Given how it usually rains at Malaysia, I just hope for no red flags and long safety car periods.

      • tmax (@tmax) said on 21st March 2013, 16:52

        @vettel1 agree.

        @f190 Nope I am not saying Button and Roseberg are rainmasters. Both button and Rosberg have said that with the current machinery they feel they have a better chance when it rains than have a dray race.

        These are their own statements.

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/106213
        Jenson Button “…”I’d rather it was mixed conditions, then we have more of a chance to score points” said Button when asked by AUTOSPORT about the car’s anticipated dry pace in Malaysia. Inters were very good to us in the last race, with P3 in Q2. When you have a quick car, you want it to be dry every day; no wind, calm, but when you don’t have such a quick car you want everything thrown at the field so you have an opportunity. ”

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/106157
        Nico Rosberg “…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!”

        • D (@f190) said on 21st March 2013, 16:59

          Yes, I understand it was just a wording error in your first message.

        • My guess is that drivers like Hamilton prefer a stiffer rear-end, which aids oversteer in dry conditions, we know drivers like Hamilton like to have a ‘pointy’ car. This though would not help him when the rain comes. For drivers like Button/Rosberg, who may naturally prefer a softer rear, will have a more stable car when its wet.

  7. John H (@john-h) said on 21st March 2013, 16:20

    White visors all round!

  8. Serban7 (@serr7) said on 21st March 2013, 18:08

    TBH I don’t see why people want a dry race here to see the pecking order now. Malaysia holds a very good chance to see a wet, unpredictable race, like last year’s GP, so why would you want to change it for a dry race – there will be a lot of dry races and we will see the cars “real” pace very soon. If I could decide this I would go for changeable conditions every race, Bernie probably agrees….

  9. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 21st March 2013, 18:58

    The rainmaster in the raincar will do his usual job, if Malaysia is another wet-weather race.

    • @kingshark – who, Vettel? ;) Indeed though, the race will be blown wide open if it’s wet and I think strategy will play a key role if the heavens open, as likely we’ll have heavy rain and then a fast drying track afterwards if a storm is to occur.

    • James (@jamesf1) said on 21st March 2013, 21:36

      Schumacher retired last year…

    • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 21st March 2013, 23:49

      Button? Some people argued the other day he is not a rainmaster despite his proved ability in rainy conditios.
      I still believe he would have better chances this weekend if it rains. On the other hand he has a dog of a car for the time being

      • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 22nd March 2013, 3:36

        @vettel1 Alonso and Ferrari, although on second thought I like @craig-o ‘s idea better!

        Nevertheless, last year Ferrari was a better car than Red Bull in the wet. Alonso’s win on this very Malaysia 12 months ago with a faulty exhaust, his pole position in the wet at Silverstone, and qualifying dominance at Hockenheim prove this. ;-)

        See how much has changed from last year. Are Ferrari still the best car on intermediate tyres?

        • @kingshark – I’ll second @craig-o ‘s suggestion too!

          This is very true and since it is using the same chassis obviously as last year, that was very strong in the wet. The Red Bull was quite strong as well though, so maybe they’ll be very close as they were in those qualifying sessions.

          What’s the current weather forecast for qualifying and the race?

  10. wigster (@wigster) said on 21st March 2013, 23:18

    I don’t understand why they persist having sessions in the late afternoon year after year when the race organisers and FOM know that the climate and prevailing weather seems to mean rain is almost always threatening at the time of qualifying and the race. Surely it can’t be that difficult to move the start times to earlier in the day, or the race to a different part of the season.

    That said, a wet race would be interesting, especially as Rosberg looked good in Melbourne in the rain, and it would give us an early chance to see how the rookies cope with a wet race and perhaps make a name for themselves. Though whether race control and the stewards would allow us to have a fully wet race without a red flag at some point is another question…

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