Hot on the heels of an encouraging start to the season in Bahrain last Sunday, the Honda Racing F1 Team heads east across the Indian Ocean to Malaysia for the second round of the Formula One World Championship in Kuala Lumpur this weekend.
Although the season-opener may not have yielded the results the team had hoped for, it did confirm the competitiveness of the Honda package versus the competition, which leaves the team feeling positive that there are better things to come in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
The drivers’ rigorous pre-season fitness training will certainly pay dividends here as they contend with the fierce heat and humidity. With track temperatures likely to reach 50°c, and even hotter in the cockpit, the conditions are far from ideal for the drivers but well suited to the team’s RA106 race car and Michelin tyres.
“My first race for the team was disappointing so I hope that Malaysia will be where my season really gets started. The track is one of the best in terms of layout and I think it will suit our package well. There are also some good overtaking opportunities. Obviously it’s one of the most physically demanding races because of the heat and humidity but we’re well prepared for that. I think we will have a much better race here.”
“Having finished fourth at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which is the highest position we’ve finished in at the first race of a season, I am really looking forward to showing what we can do at the next race.
It’s reassuring that we come away from Bahrain knowing that we genuinely have the pace to compete with the other top teams. Our car should work well at every circuit this year but particularly at hot races like Malaysia where the conditions are very well suited to our tyres.
“The Malaysian Grand Prix holds fond memories for me because it is where I achieved my first podium in Formula One. I enjoy racing there as it has a lot of quick, flowing corners as well as some really fast straights. I think we can expect another exciting race this weekend.”
Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director
“After an encouraging start to the season in Bahrain, we are hopeful of a good performance in Malaysia this weekend. Certainly the Sepang circuit presents many challenges, this being the second race on our new engines and with the very high track and air temperatures we will encounter. However, we believe that our car and tyres are suited to conditions and we expect to be fighting at the sharp end of the field. After a frantic first taste of the new qualifying format, there is no reason to expect this next session to be any less exciting, but we will definitely be applying lessons learnt in Bahrain.”
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development
“The season-opener in Bahrain gave us a clearer idea of our level of competitiveness compared to the other teams. As we thought, the top teams are very closely matched, and we will need to keep up a high rate of development throughout the season. We will be targeting a better result in Malaysia, to capitalise on the good race pace Jenson showed in Bahrain.”
Honda Racing F1