Round 16 of the 2016 Formula One World Championship is on this weekend in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
The Malaysian Grand Prix is normally found at the start of the calendar though it was shifted to a later date this year due to renovations being made to the race’s Sepang International Circuit home.
A new surface has been laid down and more than half of the corners have new curbs and improved drainage. The camber at Turn 9 has been altered, and, most significantly, Turn 15 has been re-profiled to make it slower, in an effort to encourage more overtaking.
The circuit still stretches 3.4 miles and the race will be as tough as ever. Ground temperatures can exceed 122 degrees F (50 degrees C) during the hottest part of the day, making it quite the challenge on drivers as well as the cars.
Another key trait of the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit is the high lateral demands, with the most challenging sequence of corners being turns five to seven and turns 12 to 13. And if all of this wasn’t enough, torrential rain can also be a problem. There are currently some thunderstorms forecast for Sunday’s race. Pirelli has nominated its hard, medium and soft tires.
After Friday's practice, Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton was the fastest, followed by his teammate Nico Rosberg. Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen were third and fourth fastest, respectively. There weren’t many dramas, though Renault suffered a fire in pit line.
Going into the weekend, Rosberg leads the 2016 Drivers’ Championship with 273 points. Hamilton is in second with 265 points and Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo is in third with 179 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes enjoys 538 points versus the 316 of Red Bull and 301 of Ferrari.
The 2015 winner of the Malaysian Grand Prix was Vettel.