F1 lap times in Malaysia slowest since first race

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Lap times at the Sepang International Circuit last weekend were the slowest since F1 first visited the track 15 years ago.

There have been no major changes to the circuit configuration since the first Malaysian Grand Prix. The quickest lap last weekend, set by Nico Rosberg during the final practice session, was the slowest F1 has gone at the circuit since the inaugural race in 1999.

Had qualifying been run in dry conditions it’s likely Rosberg would have been quicker, based on the normal track evolution at Sepang.

But he would not have found the six seconds which separated his best time and the quickest ever lap of the track, Fernando Alonso’s 1’32.582 set in his V10-engined Renault in 2005.

There are signs the current cars are already getting quicker. Last weekend’s fastest lap was 2.9 seconds of the 2013 pace – half a second closer than the cars were in Australia.

And the teams are expected to find a lot more time. Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery suggested they could gain up to four seconds over the course of the year.

Top speeds

As was the case in Australia, the cars are significantly quicker in terms of straight-line speed this year – up by more than 16kph in the speed trap.

The slower speeds at intermediate two, which is positioned shortly after turn 11, reveals how the cars are carrying less speed out of corners but accelerating more quickly when they get onto the straights:

The next race is in Bahrain where the teams tested extensively pre-season. The fastest lap of the test, set by Felipe Massa, was within a second of last year’s pole position time.

However Massa did that lap on super-soft tyres, which will not be available this weekend. The teams will be able to use the soft tyres, which are likely to be around a second slower per lap.

Update: This article has been revised to correct an error – the 2014 lap time was quicker than that set at the first race.

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

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95 comments on F1 lap times in Malaysia slowest since first race

  1. trotter said on 2nd April 2014, 19:09

    Why not put the name of the article as F1 top speed in Malaysia higher than last year? Sensationalism…

  2. Ludwig_M said on 2nd April 2014, 21:05

    So the cars are 7 % slower than in 2010, while consuming 40% less fuel? That’s pretty spectacular in my book… To me it was quite absurd that “the pinnacle of motor sports” (I’m getting tired of that pretentious moniker, it’s the first and last time I’ll be using it) had an engine development freeze, making the engines more obsolete by the year. It would be nice, to put things in proportion, if somebody would have some info on the increase of lap times after the ban on ground effect and the previous turbo engines.

  3. schooner (@schooner) said on 2nd April 2014, 22:19

    I’m not as concerned about the cars being a bit slower as I am about some of the reasons why. So much time, money, and engineering talent has gone into designing and producing these new engines, and I find it absurd that their on track performance potential has been strangled by self imposed fuel restrictions. I say, add 10kg of fuel, scrap the flow restriction and impose a boost pressure limit. Let the teams use all of the 15000 revs these engines were designed for instead of only about 2/3 of them. It’s crazy that we (and the drivers!) are being subjected to these economy runs instead of proper F1 sprint races.

  4. HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 3rd April 2014, 11:13

    This is not progression IMO. Yep, not all of car technological progress shoul be with velocity, but as i see at F1 the cars only could go faster and not slower, this for me is one (more) sign that FIA is not going in the right direction with F1…

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 3rd April 2014, 14:40

      but as i see at F1 the cars only could go faster and not slower

      Then you have your wish. Top speeds are faster this year than last.

      Oh, you mean cornering speeds and lap times? The things which come from lots of aerodynamic downforce? The downforce which creates turbulence, stopping drivers from being able to get close to one another on track? The effect most people have been complaining about for years and begging the FIA to reduce, to encourage closer racing on track?!?

      • HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 4th April 2014, 0:37

        I mean faster in avery aspect of it…
        Overall seeing the’re slower….that’s not a tecnhnological adavance….that’s not F1 for me i’m sorry

        • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 4th April 2014, 10:54

          Overall seeing the’re slower….that’s not a tecnhnological adavance

          Maybe so. But that’s not limited to this year, and it is nothing to do with the engines (or at the very least, other factors influence it a huge amount more). That’s how F1 has been heading for several years.

  5. BlueChris (@bluechris) said on 3rd April 2014, 12:00

    To me less downforce and less cornering speed with also less air to affect the rear car is totall great. I like it atm and my only protest is that i want ferther to decrease the Aero and Increase the engines… with this the Sport will be again a bit more driver depented but this years changes are +1 from me so far.

  6. Gubes said on 4th April 2014, 3:10

    I may be different to the typical F1 fan. But I love technological development and I love speed. I think it is so sad that F1 cars lap a circuit slower than cars 10-15 years ago because of regulations. I want to see what these engineers can do with slick tires, more leeway on downforce, no fuel flow rate, refuelling during races, no rev limit, ground effect allowed etc – would love to see cars with 1500hp+ of power 600kg of weight and much more downforce racing in wide open circuits. I want to see how extreme these things can be. I think that was always the allure of F1, not who the ultimate winner was, but the fact that it was the most shockingly fast cars in the world. If F1 continues in this direction, it will only be a matter of time before another racing code will be liberal on rules and you will have cars much faster than F1. The lack of track speed worries me way more than noise. The only thing I would do to cap the crazy speed is because of safety. F1 was pretty safe 10 years ago, now it is just as safe but with far less speed.

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