Race 2 | Malaysia | Expert difficulty
I was in Malaysia just a couple of weeks ago – as some of you might know the Sepang Circuit is right next to Kuala Lumpor’s budget airline terminal, so I drove past it a couple of times and it’s great to get a nice little reminder of being amongst the palm trees again :)
Practice and qualifying:
The practice starts and it’s drizzling lightly, although it should clear up later on. The rest of the weekend is forecast to be dry.
I haven’t driven in the wet in 2013 yet, so I head straight out on a pair of inters to put in some laps. It’s very light rain, and it doesn’t feel quite as difficult as wet driving in 2011 or 2012. I stay out putting in laps as the rain stops after around 20 minutes, hoping to keep going as the track dries but my tyres were dead before a dry line really started to appear.
With only around 20 minutes to practice on slicks, I head straight out to see if I can improve my set up. After a run each on primes and options I’m pleased to see I’m around a second quicker than Bianchi.
I’m able to take the same pace into qualifying, and after a pretty uneventful Q1 I qualify in 19th around 3 tenths quicker than Bianchi and the Caterhams on the last row of the grid. Hamilton picks up his second pole position of the season.
I chose to go for the suggested 3 stop strategy this time out, and start on the option tyre. I’m feeling confident on the grid, and manage to get a much better start than last time out. One of the Caterhams still manages to pull ahead into the first corner. There’s very little contact between everyone through the first two corners, but it’s very crowded and several cars go wide.
I pick up a few places during the first lap, and emerge onto the back straight in 15th. No one pits for a damaged front wing, which I’m pretty amazed about, and Pic is ahead of me. I’m able to reel Pic in over a few laps and when DRS is finally enabled I can breeze past into turn 1.
My pace is good throughout the rest of the race, although it makes for a bit of a quiet drive as I’m consistantly between 0.2 and 0.8 seconds faster than Bianchi (who is in turn faster than the two Caterhams). Still I enjoy the race, it’s satisfying keeping up a consistent pace and not letting those blue flags cost me too much time. My nemesis from the last race, Bottas, emerges from a pit stop a few seconds in front of me during my last stint and I’m a bit surprised that I’m able to keep pace and even catch up with him. It soon becomes apparent that he has a problem though, as after I get past he slows enough that the other three backmarkers get past before he eventually retires.
Bottas’ retirement means I finish 18th, meeting my objective again. Webber picks up the win. On to China!