I’ve been in Kuala Lumpur since Monday already. As my trainer Edoardo Bendinelli has previously explained to you (see The battle with the heat is played out in advance) it’s important to acclimatise quickly to the extreme conditions, especially for us Europeans when we’re in this corner of the globe. Yesterday, for example, I played Golf with Edoardo and my manager Luis: we were the only ones on the course as no one was prepared to venture out in the heat!
This is the longest race in terms of distance, but above all, it’s the most tiring from the physical point of view: it is vital to be as well prepared as possible and, towards the end, that can also make a difference out on track. I’m doing all I can to be ready for this weekend, just as is the team; all the guys here in the garage in Sepang, for whom it is also very draining to work in these conditions and all the people back home in Maranello. In Malaysia, we will once again be racing on the defensive.There’s no other way we can go about it, given that the F2012 is practically identical to what we ran in Australia. We will have to try and adapt it as well as possible, knowing it won’t be easy. There are two points we will have to work on with great attention: finding the right compromise in terms of the aerodynamic balance and the tyre degradation. Sepang has two real straights where, because they are very long, a lack of top speed carries a higher price than in Melbourne, where the two straights on which you could use DRS were reasonably short.
We will have to see how the Pirelli tyres behave in the high temperatures here in Malaysia. Last year, we ended up doing four stops so we will see if the situation is the same this time. We will have the Medium and Hard compounds while last year we ran Soft-Hard. Given that this year, the four types of Pirelli tyre are much more similar to one another in terms of performance over a lap, maybe it will be a different picture.
By the second free practice session on Friday, we should already start to get a more accurate impression. The word “should” applies because every session here, especially the one in the mid-afternoon, can be affected by rain. There is no other place in the world, the Formula 1 world that is, where it can go from sunshine to torrential rain in the space of a few minutes. Not even at Spa is the variability so acute. Those on the pit wall will have to keep their eyes peeled and look at the radar carefully to be ready for any possible change in the weather.
At the moment, the forecast is for a high chance of rain, both for qualifying and the race, but honestly, I don’t have much faith in the forecast. The important thing is to react promptly and grab every opportunity. The only thing you can be absolutely certain of is that it will be hot, very hot…