Monday, 23 March 2015

Mercedes aiming for another 1-2 in Malaysia

(Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team)

The Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team head to their title sponsor’s home race the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit hoping to make it two wins from two races.

The Silver Arrows picked up where they left off last season after Lewis Hamilton took a lights to flag victory at the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last weekend. The double world champion finished the race just ahead of team mate Nico Rosberg giving the Brackley based outfit a 1-2 finish.

Mercedes completely dominated Formula One last season and were extremely quick to cover a complete race distance during winter testing. They managed to do a full race simulation at the opening test in Jerez in February.

Lewis Hamilton ended the race over 30 seconds ahead of third placed driver, Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race in Malaysia, Lewis Hamilton commented by saying:

Australia was a great way to start. To pick up where we left off last year was awesome. But if 2014 showed anything, it’s that putting together a whole season is never easy. Winning the first race is just one small step in a long journey and I’m not reading anything into it. The next step is Malaysia and that’s all I’ve been focusing on since we left Melbourne. I can’t wait to get back out there and I can’t wait to get to Sepang. It’s a great circuit, a home race for PETRONAS and a country I really enjoy going to. The people are so welcoming and the support we had there as a team last year was amazing. Of course, the race itself is really tough with the heat and humidity. But I feel ready for anything right now and the aim is to repeat last year’s performance. It took me eight attempts to win this race when I finally made it to the top step last year and I don’t plan on waiting that long again…

Nico Rosberg commented by saying:

Melbourne was a mega weekend for the team. To start off the year with such dominance was just amazing and the team really did an incredible job. Of course, I’m disappointed not to have repeated my win from 2014 – but Lewis was on top form and it’s up to me to find that little bit extra. It’s all set up to be another great battle between us this year and I’m ready for the fight. Hopefully we will also have some other competitors pushing us as hard as we push each other, as this would be great for the sport. But, either way, I really hope we can put on a great show for everyone watching at home and also for the Malaysian fans, who are always such great hosts. It would be perfect to get another strong result in front of our friends from PETRONAS and that’s definitely the target – so long as the order of the top two is reversed, of course! I’m also particularly looking forward to welcoming our special guest Mr. Vettel to the Friday engineering meeting. I’m sure we will all learn a few interesting things for the weekend…

Not only did Mercedes secure a 1-2 finish but the Silver Arrows also began the season with a front row lock-out and a clean sweep 1, 2, 3 with the Williams Martini Racing Team’s Felipe Massa starting the race from third place on the grid. 

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race, Mercedes Motorsport Director Toto Wolff stated:

Melbourne was a faultless weekend from the team and a well-deserved reward for everybody who has worked so hard on the W06 Hybrid project. They absolutely deserve the success we currently enjoy. It was, however, just one race. We will not be backing off – and nor can we afford to, with a relentless opposition chasing us. Ferrari have made a clear step forwards, Williams also look very strong and you can never count anybody out at this stage, so we are prepared for a fight in the coming races. The next battle is Malaysia – a home race for PETRONAS and one we will attack with the same intensity as Australia. In our minds it’s back to square one and our objectives remain the same.

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe concluded by saying:

Sepang is a very different racetrack to Melbourne – a permanent facility with a full range of cornering speeds which is very unforgiving on the car. It’s also one of the most challenging events of the year in terms of both human and mechanical endurance due to the extreme heat and humidity. Throw in the near-certainty of torrential downpours and it’s never a straightforward weekend operationally. We may see some slight adjustments in the performance differential between teams due to the very different nature of the track relative to Melbourne and we’re also bringing a few small updates to the cars – fixing a few points which have not quite been up to scratch thus far. 

© Ben Johnston 2015

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