The 2015 Formula One World Championship continues with round two, the Malaysian Grand Prix, which once again is being held at the hot and steamy Sepang International Circuit, located just outside Kuala Lumpur. The track is notorious for its changeable weather, but there’s one aspect that’s constant: the heat. It’s not unusual for ground temperatures to exceed 122 degrees F (50 degrees C) during the hottest part of the day.
The current forecast for Sunday’s race is a peak temperature of 92 degrees F (33 degrees C) together with some scattered thunderstorms. Humidity will be at 75 percent and wind speeds should be low. Similar conditions are predicted for tomorrow’s qualifying session.
The hot temperatures, combined with a rough track surface and numerous fast corners, means tire degradation is quite severe. The cars also tend to run high downforce in Malaysia, adding vertical forces to the varied demands faced by the tires. As a result, Pirelli has nominated its tougher Medium and Hard compounds for the weekend.
After today’s practice session, Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton was the fastest, though Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen showed some promise by setting times just slightly off the pace of the reigning world champion. Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg was the third fastest on the day. One of the major highlights was seeing Fernando Alonso on the track. Unfortunately, the McLarens are still near the back of the pack, with Alonso 16th fastest and his teammate Jenson Button one spot further down.
Another driver returning to the track is Williams' Valtteri Bottas, who managed to set the fifth fastest time, proving he isn't being hampered by the back injury sustained during qualifying at the previous race in Australia.
Going into the weekend, Hamilton leads the 2015 Drivers’ Championship with 25 points, ahead of Rosberg who sits on 18 points. In third place is Ferrari’s other driver Sebastian Vettel with 15 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes AMG leads with 43 points, followed by Ferrari with 15 points and Sauber with 14 points.