Since 1999 Malaysia has been hosting F1 races, but 2017 will bring that to a close. Because of (surprise surprise) financial problems, the Sepang circuit won’t be providing any more F1 thrills and spills for the foreseeable future. As an event, the race has sometimes provided drama in the wet, and even in the dry – whilst last season (and this season) the race is being held later in the year, it has sometimes popped up as the second or third race, when teams are still getting to grips with new cars. This has produced some topsy-turvy moments – 2012 for example, featuring an unlikely win for Fernando Alonso with Ferrari and second place for Sergio Perez, then of Sauber. It also saw a drenched race in 2001.
Given Malaysia’s location, this race can rival Singapore for heat and humidity, with the saving grace being that the race isn’t quite as long. Nonetheless, Malaysia manages to be quite gruelling. There are some bumpy corners too – turn 4 is rough, and so is turn 9.
How will 2017’s race play out? Well, Mercedes might well fancy their chances, but it’s important to remember Ferrari outwitted them on strategy here in 2015. Whilst there are some long, powerful straights, there are also bendy sequences that might play into Ferrari’s hands. Overall, the track does seem more geared up to speed, but in what could be variable conditions, it would be unwise to assume a clear Mercedes victory.