F1 is back in action this weekend for the Malaysian Grand Prix. This late in the season, what? Yes, because the race has returned to the final part of the F1 calendar for this year.
The title fight is heating up just in time for the race – a match for the typically scorching temperatures we often see at the Sepang International Circuit. Here are a few fun and quirky facts you probably don’t know about the Malaysian GP:
The importance of pole
Of the last 17 F1 races in Malaysia, nine of them have been won from pole position. It’s a stat you wouldn’t typically expect from such a varied circuit, with changeable weather conditions often a feature, but qualifying is actually pretty important at Sepang.
There has only been one Malaysian F1 driver in its history. Alex Yoong pootled around at the back of the pack in the sluggish Minardi at the end of 2001 and for most of 2002, where he actually failed to qualify for a few races. Fairuz Fauzy did a few FP1 sessions for Lotus in 2010 but never raced.
Cut in half
The 2009 Malaysian GP was the last race where half points were awarded, after it was red flagged due to a horrendous rain storm that hit before it could reach 75% distance. The others to award half points are the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix, the 1975 Austrian Grand Prix, the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix and the 1991 Australian Grand Prix.
It was also the race where we found out Kimi Raikkonen likes ice cream.
The Sepang International Circuit was actually built on a 260-hectare swamp. But this isn’t as bad as you might think, as it’s why the track surface is so bumpy, undulating and unpredictable. Which is rare in modern tracks.
The ridiculously high temperatures in Malaysia don’t just raise concerns for the engines and brakes. The drivers are also put through their paces with intense heat and humidity, like being in a sauna for two hours. Hot, hot, hot is an understatement.
In fact, the heat leads to drivers losing three to four kilograms in weight (just like they do in Singapore too) through fluid loss from sweating. So the cockpit probably isn’t the most pleasant place to be, and it turns their drink into a searing hot tea. Lovely.