· The 2011 F1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix will be the 13th edition of the race since 1999.
· 2011 marks the third time that the race has been scheduled for a late afternoon start
· Sepang has one of the lowest Safety Car probabilities with just two deployments in the past 10 years
· The team scored its first podium at Sepang in 2010, with Nico Rosberg finishing third
· The Malaysian Grand Prix is the home race for the team’s title partner PETRONAS
What do you enjoy, and what are the unique challenges, of the Sepang International Circuit?
“Let’s put it like this: we consider Malaysia as one of our home Grands Prix, so it obviously gives us a big boost to go there and have the support of PETRONAS and the Malaysian people. The track itself is great as it gives you a wide variety of possibilities during every lap. You can take multiple lines through some of the corners, which is something you can do hardly anywhere else. I have always liked driving there, and I look forward to doing it again.”
The team had a difficult time in Australia. What do you expect from the second race?
“There is absolutely no doubt we want to do better than in the opening race, which was a disappointment for all of us. We clearly see that as a challenge and it is much too early to write us off. Everybody in the team remains positive and is in a fighting mood. So I expect a better weekend for us to come; a weekend we can build on.”
How do you rate the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia?
“To be honest, Sepang is my favorite circuit on the Formula One calendar. It’s fast and challenging with a nice layout and a real variation of corners which make it an exciting track to drive. Last year I qualified second and achieved the team’s first podium of the season. I have a good feeling coming back here this year and hope to achieve a good result at the home race of our title partner PETRONAS.”
Are you expecting a better weekend in Malaysia?
“We had a tough weekend in Australia but the team has worked hard and we are confident that the car will be running reliably in Malaysia. Melbourne is a unique circuit and we know that we will have a much better understanding of our level of performance after the next races. I think we can surprise people next Sunday. We know that the car is fast from the last test in Barcelona, so now we have to work on proving that potential.”
Ross Brawn, Team Principal
“As the home race of our title partner, PETRONAS, the Malaysian Grand Prix is a very important and prestigious race for our team. The whole team enjoys our annual visit to both Kuala Lumpur and the Sepang International Circuit, and the unparalleled hospitality of our friends from PETRONAS and the Malaysian fans.
“We endured a difficult weekend at the first race of the season, despite having reasonable expectations after completing a successful testing programme in Barcelona. We suffered a number of problems which resulted in a far from optimum car for qualifying and the race, and then were unlucky to suffer a disappointing double retirement for Michael and Nico.
“Our priority since Melbourne has been to regroup back at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth, to review the weekend in detail, and to establish the best way to achieve the full potential of the car from Malaysia onwards. How we respond to the disappointment of Melbourne, and the challenges we faced, will be a true measure of our team.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“The Sepang circuit presents many challenges. It has a wide variety of corners with varying radii which demand good aerodynamic stability and efficiency from a Formula 1 car. There are four major braking events during the lap, and extreme climatic conditions are the norm in Sepang, with high temperatures and humidity - which create a high likelihood of rain in the late afternoon during both qualifying and the race.
“The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of our home races, with our title partner PETRONAS headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, and Nico scored the first podium for our team last year at this circuit with a third-place finish.
“Since the first race in Australia, we have worked hard in Brackley and Brixworth to analyse the reasons behind, and to solve, the reliability and performance problems which hampered our first race weekend of the season. Our target is to be in better shape in Malaysia.”