We thought we'd never get over it. Somehow we did, and now we're moving on from Albert Park straight to Kuala Lampur, in Malaysia. The race in Sepang could even be more dramatic than Melbourne, considering how rapidly the weather changes in Malaysia. We will find out soon enough if our wishes will be granted, although I can almost guarantee that they will. Friday action will begin in just a few short hours, but there's still time to hear what McLaren has to say about the track. Hopefully next time we will get more time to put more teams in, but for right now our championship leaders are in the spotlight, so let's hear what they have to say:
“Sepang is more of a high-speed circuit (than Melbourne), there are some fantastic sweeping corners here and, if the car’s working properly, it’s a real joy to drive. It’s one of the toughest circuits on the calendar because there’s a real range of corners, cambers, a couple of blind apexes and a little bit of gradient. If the car’s working against you, then it becomes painful, but when it’s all switched on, it’s just a great, great circuit to drive. I think we've got a car that really works well in the high-speed stuff - we saw that throughout winter testing. So I think the challenge this weekend will be to find the right balance - at this stage in the year, you’re still learning about the car and how to get the best from it. But I think the engineers understand how our car is strong - I know they’re really looking forward to extracting the maximum from it in Sepang this weekend. As we said repeatedly throughout last year, and we saw time and again with Sebastian (Vettel), if you can qualify strongly and get away cleanly then it’s much easier to control the field, to race cleanly and to get a representative result. I think the race showed that there are several top teams in Formula One, and I think we can expect them to be fighting for victory in Malaysia. Both Red Bull drivers were very quick in the race, and I think we can expect further strong challenges from Mercedes AMG and Lotus this weekend. Of course, we’re not relaxing - and we go to Malaysia ready for a strong fight.”
“It’s never really something you’re particularly conscious of during the race weekend, but I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d love to win a Grand Prix at every circuit I race at. I’ve not won at Sepang before, but I’ve had some good races here - and I’d like to put the record straight with a victory this weekend. I think we go into the weekend feeling pretty optimistic because Sepang is quite a high-speed circuit and our car has usually gone well in the high-speed stuff during winter testing. Sepang will also be a test because of the high temperatures, but we’ve traditionally been able to manage the cooling on our car quite well, so I don’t think that will be too much of a concern. Physically, it’s always a tough race, but we’re improving the organisation in every area, and I think we’ve taken some interesting steps this year to ensure the whole team will be better prepared for the heat and humidity. Clearly, we’re very encouraged by our pace, both in qualifying and in the race, and I’d like to think we can continue that at Malaysia this weekend. I think both Mercedes AMG and Red Bull Racing have performance up their sleeves, and they’ll both be very fast in qualifying and the race. As far as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is concerned, it’s nice to be the hunted rather than the hunter, which has been the case in the past few seasons. But I know how well our team can respond - the result in Australia will only double everyone’s resolve. The development race has already started and we’ll be pushing like crazy to stay at the front. I think Malaysia will add detail to the overall picture, but it’s the pace of development - between ourselves, Red Bull, Mercedes, Lotus and Ferrari - that will define the course of the season.”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
“Everybody within Vodafone McLaren Mercedes was tremendously buoyed by our performance in Melbourne last weekend. As we all know, a Formula One winter is incredibly tense as it’s almost impossible to know if the targets you’ve set internally will set the standard or leave you wanting. Happily, we were delighted to discover that MP4-27 has been successfully developed into a race-winning package - and that’s a source of huge pleasure, and huge relief, for the whole team. Of course, nobody sits still in Formula One and we head to Malaysia mindful that we’ll once again receive a stern challenge from our closest rivals - most notably Red Bull Racing and Mercedes AMG, both of whom will have points to prove this weekend. Sepang was one of the original ‘new world’ Formula One circuits and one that triggered the sport’s global expansion into Asia at the start of the millennium. I’m pleased that it remains a mainstay of the calendar, but also that it has developed a character and history of its own. It’s an extremely demanding circuit - on both the cars and the drivers - and a real challenge. We’ve enjoyed some highs and lows here, but I think we’re all looking forward to understanding how this unique season will continue to unwind this weekend.”
Now the only thing left is for the Grand Prix weekend to unfold. See you in Sepang, it's going to be great!