|Distance||310,408 km / 192,919 miles|
||Scuderia Ferrari||did not start / technical problem
Maurizio Arrivabene: “All weekend, it was clear we had a very competitive car. That could be seen from our pace in free practice, Kimi’s front row in qualifying and Seb’s amazing fight back in the race, when he went from last to fourth. However, it all added up to our hardest race of the year, as we had to confront problems that we will now analyse in depth. They prevented Sebastian from qualifying and Kimi from even taking the start. The team remained focused on its job throughout, putting in a great deal of effort working in the garage and then implementing an impeccable strategy. It’s further cause to continue to believe in ourselves: we have the car, the men, the drivers, the means and the spirit to fight all the way to the finish.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I am still optimistic, because we know that we have a quick car. Of course it was a shame for Kimi who couldn’t take the start, and for me having to begin my race from the back of the grid. We tried to fight for the podium, pushed very hard, but in the end the tires were starting to give up and we couldn’t be really there. However, it is promising to see the car is good, even if both Kimi and I hit trouble this weekend. I don’t know yet if the issue is the same on both cars, we’ll need to have a look. For sure it’s not ideal having one car out yesterday and another one today. So, there’s something we need to understand. It’s been a difficult weekend, but nevertheless the speed is there. So far we’ve had a pretty good record for this year regarding reliability. I am not that worried to be honest, but we need to get on top of the problem.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “We don’t know what happened today, it’s too early to say. The car had been working perfectly all weekend and suddenly, out of nothing, we had an issue. It’s one of those things that unfortunately can happen. Car and speed wise we have been very good, but then unfortunately Seb had problems yesterday and we had ours today. I’m pretty sure that I would have had a very good car today, but obviously you never know and it’s pointless to start guessing. We have a good package, but we have to take the most out of it. What happened today is very disappointing and hurts all of us, but there’s nothing we can change right now. The next race is a new challenge again, we’ll go there as in any race weekend, and then we’ll see where we are.”
Vettel goes from last to 4th. Raikkonen unable to exploit front row start
Sepang, 1 October – Sebastian Vettel went from last on the grid to fourth at the flag. It was a performance that confirmed just how competitive was the Ferrari package today. However, Kimi Raikkonen didn’t get the chance to confirm that. He lined up on the front row of the grid, but the warning signs had been there on his lap out of the garage and a problem on his SF70H meant he was unable to take the start. Seb made a good start and fought his way up the order, passing cars all the way to fifth place. He had taken the start on the harder Soft tyres and, at half-distance, pitted to take on the Supersofts. With these, he then proceeded to put in a series of fast laps which meant he closed right up on third placed Ricciardo.
However, he lost some ground when he was slowed by a backmarker and from then on, he managed his lead over Bottas, crossing the line with 12 points in the bag; something that had seemed inconceivable at the start.
Kimi P2, Seb with no lap times: “We’ve got a a chance, and a good car to recover”
Sepang, Malaysia – On a day in which Kimi showed the potential of Scuderia Ferrari by taking P2 on the grid after a hard-fought battle, Seb was unable to set a time due to a problem which prevented the compressor from feeding air to the engine properly. A new V6 engine had been fitted to his SF70 after P3 for precautionary reasons, and the engine came complete with parts which had been run before and were factory-proven. Nevertheless, the Team is determined to fight to the end.
“Straight away I understood there was something wrong” said Seb. “Today we had decided to change the engine after P3, then I went out and everything seemed to work, but during the flying lap in turn 5, I suddenly felt like I was losing power. I was lucky to limp back to the garage so that we could have a look. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fix the problem. We tried to find the issue when we took the engine cover off, but we couldn’t find anything wrong. So, we decided to fire it up and see if we could drive again. As soon as the engine was running, we could see the issue was still there. It’s a shame because the car is quick, but tomorrow we should be able to fight back. I don’t have expectations in terms of numbers, but anything can happen and that’s why we race. I want to be sure we can achieve our best. We need to know why we got the issue today and make sure it won’t happen again. This kind of thing can happen in our sport, but the race is tomorrow. We need to be positive”.
Kimi had this to say about his qualifying: “Our car has been handling well all weekend. Today in qualifying we got close, but we would have needed a fractionally faster lap time. I think that the car had it, but you can always lose a little bit here and there. It’s disappointing not to be first, but tomorrow is going to be a long race for both cars and tires. I have the feeling that we have a good car and a very good chance for the race. If it’s going to be dry we are probably more confident, but our car has been good in both conditions and with all fuel loads. What happened to Seb is disappointing, very unfortunate for him and for the team. The guys did an excellent job to change all the parts getting the car back in one piece and ready to go, but then unfortunately he had to stop. Tomorrow is another day, he will have good speed and I’m sure that he can recover well”.
Problems for Vettel in qualifying
Sepang, 30 September –Today’s qualifying at the Sepang International Circuit produced a very split result for Scuderia Ferrari. Kimi Raikkonen, who lapped in 1’30”121, will start from the front row of the grid for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but Sebastian Vettel was unable to complete a lap in Q1 because of a turbo problem which could not be fixed in time.
Ferrari first and second, Seb’s car gets precautionary engine change
Sepang, 30 September –The third and final free practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix with Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel claiming the top two slots on the time sheet. Kimi took his Ferrari round in a time of 1’31’”880, while Sebastian’s best lap was a 1’32”042. Both Scuderia Ferrari men used the Supersoft tyres. Towards the end of the session, there was an electronic malfunction on Seb’s car and the engineers decided to change the internal combustion engine on his car as a precaution. Qualifying gets underway at 17h00 local time (11h00 CET.)
Seb and Kimi: “The car felt good, now it’s up to us to make it work in all conditions”
Sepang, Malaysia, September 29th – The clouds cleared enough for the rain to stop and the second Free Practice session was blessed with fair, if overcast, weather. Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Seb and Kimi, focused on their programme and topped the time sheet at the end of a session which was cut short by the red flag with about ten minutes to go, when Romain Grosjean drove over a dislodged drain cover which cut through his right rear tyre, causing a heavy collision with the barriers: seconds earlier, Kimi had brushed across the same spot. “This morning we had a bit of mixed conditions and there was not so much running,” commented Seb. “This afternoon it was better and the cars seemed to be quite ok right from the beginning of the session. Then we tried something new, but unfortunately we couldn’t complete our programme as we had wished to, because of the red flag. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow. It’s only Friday, usually the day when you spend time trying various things on the car. We would have liked to drive a little bit more, but overall it was a decent afternoon. We have a good car and it’s up to us to make it work in all conditions”. “Today’s been ok and everything ran smoothly,” said Kimi. “In the morning we had wet conditions and only managed a few laps, and in the afternoon the session was cut short because of the issue with the track. It’s a pity that we couldn’t use the whole session and do more timed laps, because for sure we could have further improved. But the car was feeling good: I made some mistakes on a new set of tires but apart from that it was a pretty straightforward day. Lap times don’t mean much today, as obviously we don’t know what everybody else was doing”.
Seb ahead of Kimi in dry session
Sepang, 29 September –The Ferrari duo topped the time sheet come the end of the second free practice session at the Sepang Circuit, setting their best times on the Supersoft compound. Sebastian Vettel was fastest with a lap in 1.31.261, which is a new record for this track, while Kimi Raikkonen was second in 1.31.865. They also ran the Soft tyres will working on an aero and long run programme. The track was dry throughout the session but was red flagged with around 10 minutes remaining, when Romain Grosjean had a big crash, after his car caught a loose drain cover at the side of the track at turn 13. FP3 starts tomorrow’s F1 action, at 14h00 local time, 08h00 CET.
Kimi fourth, Seb fifth
Sepang – Heavy rain delayed the start of the first free practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. Then, after half an hour, the Scuderia Ferrari drivers went out to assess track conditions, first of all on Full Wets and then with the Intermediate tyres. At the chequered flag, Kimi Raikkonen’s best lap was a 1’50”734, good enough for fourth fastest, while Sebastian Vettel was right behind in fifth, with a 1’51”009. The forecast for FP2, which starts at 15h00 local time, (09h00 CET) is still uncertain.
Kimi and Seb look ahead to Sepang’s hot challenge: “We should be OK here”
Sepang, September 28 – Another track, another race weekend. For the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Kimi and Seb, the last edition of the Malaysian Grand Prix is all they’re focused on. “It’s a new race weekend” says Kimi “and our approach is always the same; we’ll do our best trying to be one and two at the end. I have good memories from Sepang, as this is where I won my first race in 2003 ,it was a great day. And I won again for Scuderia Ferrari in 2008, so it’s more good memories. The circuit is nice to drive; conditions can be quite extreme in many ways and the track is demanding for both the car and the driver. It can be very hot and then suddenly rain may come, and when it’s raining here there’s so much water that you cannot drive anymore because of the aquaplaning. It’s hard to know what will happen this weekend, but from tomorrow we will understand more. I have the feeling that we should be ok, but who knows. We’ll start smoothly and hopefully we can have a good weekend”. Like his team-mate, Seb has turned the page on the bitterness of the last Grand Prix. “We talked about what happened in Singapore and we moved on. The reaction of the team has been good and we were all enthusiastic about coming here. We know we have a strong package, so now let’s see what we can do. I want to win the next races and I don’t need to think about anything else. I think we can still win and count on ourselves. It’s up to us to make good use of our package. We have shown in most of the races that we are competitive and we still want to improve. I am looking forward to racing here, and then we still have a lot of races ahead and a lot of things may happen”.
Heading for the final running of a tough but fascinating Grand Prix
Goodbye Malaysia: this weekend’s Grand Prix in South East Asia is the 19th and last to be held here. When it made its debut back in 1999, the Sepang circuit was at the cutting edge of a new generation of facilities, all from the pen of Hermann Tilke. The track features a combination of high speed turns, long straights and hairpins and these are laid out in an elegant setting, the highlights of which are the design of the grandstands and the lighting in the paddock. It is a window on a country which is undergoing extensive socio-economic development, with its citizens coming from three distinct ethnic backgrounds – Malaysian, Chinese and Indian – all living in harmony.
The first edition featured the return to racing of Michael Schumacher, after he had broken his leg at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It was a memorable weekend for Scuderia Ferrari, with Schumi starting from pole and working to help Eddie Irvine’s chances of winning the world title. One year later in Sepang, with the Drivers’ title already in the bag, the Prancing Horse team also secured the Constructors’ crown. Malaysia was also the setting for Sebastian Vettel’s first win in red back in 2015.
The track is very technical, with corners that put the tyres under a lot of stress, thanks to the lateral acceleration loads, the abrasive track surface and the intense heat. This year, having assessed the behaviour of their tyres, Pirelli has opted to leave the Hard compound at home, bringing instead the Mediums, Softs and Supersofts. It’s always possible that the rain tyres will also see some action, given the forecast for the weekend doesn’t rule out the chance of storms, which are usually very heavy.
The weather is another challenge with suffocating heat and humidity. All weekend, the drivers work especially carefully on keeping hydrated, so as not to suffer too much in the race, when they might get a slight chance to pause for breath down the two straights (the longest of which is 900 metres) prior to and after turn 15. A difficult Grand Prix for man and machine, which despite this, or maybe because of it, has always had a charm all of its own.