As the championship fight enters its decisive phase, F1 comes to Sepang, Malyasia, for a venue that rivals Singapore for heat and humidity. This race has been high drama in the past – the 2009 race was abandoned due to torrential rain, whilst in 2013 Sebastian Vettel famously defied team orders to pass his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and snatch victory. Usually the race takes place toward the start of the season, but it’s now toward the tail-end of the season.
So what are the key areas of note with this track? There are quite a few corners which are much faster than they appear. Turns 6 7 and 8 are all quick, and if one is brave, so are turns 12 and 13. There are some meaty, tight corners that are potential overtaking areas – turn 4 is a right-hander that is quite bumpy, and turn 9 is virtually a left hairpin, an uphill hairpin. The other obvious overtaking areas are at turn 15 and turn 1.
Last year Sebastian Vettel took his maiden win for Ferrari here. It seems unlikely that he will win again on Sunday, given the performance gap between Mercedes and Ferrari, but then, no one had really expected him to win last season either. Still, the expectation is that title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will resume their battle, with Rosberg currently holding the advantage. His eight-point lead is fragile, but important – it represents a dramatic swing in his favour since F1 returned from its summer break. Hamilton needs to quickly regain his composure and shake off what was a poor weekend in Singapore if he is to keep the pressure up on Rosberg.