Lewis Hamilton is hoping to deliver a knockout blow in Malaysia this week, following a brilliant weekend for him in Singapore. After Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire from that race, the Mercedes driver took maximum points to open up a considerable lead at the top of the F1 standings. Can he build on that ahead of a crucial part of the season?
This weekend’s race kicks off a run of four Grand Prix spread over five weeks. Such a tight schedule means that momentum could carry Hamilton to the title if he holds his nerve in the coming weeks, especially with things going poorly for his Ferrari rival. However, could a mixed record at this circuit cost Mercedes? They head here knowing that recent trips have been a struggle, and that could allow Vettel a route back in to contention.
Tips and Predictions
Hamilton has now won three races on the spin, putting him in pole position for another title. The Mercedes driver has won every race since the summer break, while he’s won four of the last five overall. That has really boosted his hopes of being crowned world champion, while Hamilton has consolidated his place in the all-time list of Grand Prix victories, having hit 60. He’s comfortably second, although he does trail Michael Schumacher by 31 wins, something that he has an eye on chasing down. Will he land another victory towards that goal here?
We can’t see past Hamilton this weekend, as you just can’t argue with the form that he is in. The Mercedes driver will be out to extend his lead and add to his hopes of walking away with the title. Having hit form at exactly the right time – something that plagued him last season – the Brit is making a strong push to top the Driver’s Championship standings. This is the time of year when Nico Rosberg pressed home his advantage to open up a clear gap, and we think it’s worth backing a victory for the current leader at evens with BetVictor. The pressure is on Vettel now and, as he showed last time out, that can cause mistakes.
- 2016 – Daniel Ricciardo won, with Max Verstappen second
- 2015 – Sebastian Vettel won, with Lewis Hamilton second
- 2014 – Lewis Hamilton won, with Nico Rosberg second
- 2013 – Sebastian Vettel won, with Mark Webber second
- 2012 – Fernando Alonso won, with Sergio Perez second
Other Bets and Odds
While things aren’t going too well for Vettel right now, Daniel Ricciardo is having a strong run of late. He’s coming off a second place finish last time out, and he’ll be looking to match his win here last season. While that might be too tall of an ask, we think the Australian can make an impression this weekend. After seven top three finishes in his last 10, we’re backing Ricciardo to finish on the podium at the huge price of 7/4 with Ladbrokes.
About the Malaysian Grand Prix
Sepang is home to the Malaysian Grand Prix and is one of the better tracks on the Grand Prix schedule right now. It’s been around since 1999, so whilst it’s a track that feels new, has seen plenty of racing on it and one that most drivers are very familiar with.
The layout of the track is one that is quite unique, in that it’s got two very long straights that head back into the main part of area, having massive grandstands running throughout and almost feeling like you are sat in the middle of a 360 degree amphitheatre for the fans.
The track is located about 45km south of Kuala Lumper and has hosted the Malaysian Grand Prix from 1999 through to 2017.
The 5.5km is widely regarded as one of the most technical circuits in Formula 1. The combination of long high speed straight, and tight, twisty complexes makes it really hard to carve out the perfect lap. But, the upside of that is that the track is great for overtaking, given that it’s very wide in almost all sections of it.
The weather is one thing to note with Malaysia and the high humidity almost makes it like the drivers are driving in a sauna. It’s one of the hottest Grand Prix’s that the drivers face, which make it as taxing on the drivers as it does the cars.
The track starts with a long straight. The drivers need to position themselves on the left-hand side of track and most cars will be hitting around 200mph at this point. Turn 1 is a long right handed hairpin, but given that the corner is so long, it means the drivers actually turn in very late to clip the apex before exiting towards turn 2.
The second turn is a short run from 1, but the drop in elevation means that it can be a good overtaking opportunity, especially for those drivers that have overcooked the breaking zone from turn 1 and struggled for track position coming out.
Turn 3 is one of the longest on the track and this is totally flat out for the drivers. They are looking for the best line here to minimise wind resistance and they bring the car back to the left to turn into turn 4. This is a deceptively tricky corner as the driver needs to clip the apex in just the right spot so they can the best acceleration out of the corner and into one of the most exciting parts of the race track.
Turns 5, 6, 7 and 8 all come very quickly, and the drivers have little to no time to really react, so this is a spot where few overtaking manoeuvres are had. They aren’t quite flat out for this section, but it’s one of the fastest parts of the track and one of the most exciting for the grandstands that wrap around them.
This next part of the tack is one of the biggest elevation changes as initially they work up the bank and then quickly back down, as the driver moves in the 90-degree left hander. Drivers then accelerate up off the turn and into another signature long right hander and into one of the trickiest braking areas of this section. The car has a lot of lateral load, so stopping on a fairly bumpy section of the track can make it quite difficult to keep traction.
The next section is the high-speed chicane between turns 12 and 13. The driver is flat out here and they are able to take quite a lot of kerb in these corners, as well. The second to last right hander leads onto the back straight and it’s vital for the driver to then get a good line and push through to the DRS zone, before hitting the final corner.
The last corner is almost a mirror image of turn and the breaking zone can be tricky to find. Another long entry is needed here, before being patient and then finally getting back on the throttle and down the home straight, before crossing the finish line. Drivers need to work really hard around each lap they do, which makes it a gruelling test of both man and car.
The track was commissioned by the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Bin Mohammed in March 1999. There has been talks for some time prior to this about F1 coming to Malaysia, as they were looking to expand across Asia.
Whilst the track had initially been designed to host F1, the success of the track meant that they were actually able to also hold MotoGP, as well. The design had been created in a way that meant there are several layouts that can be used, with a slightly different circuit that is set up for the MotoGP than the F1. The inaugural F1 Grand Prix was held on 17th October in 1999 and was won by Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari.