F1 Winter Break
It's pouring down in Malaysia
It's pouring down in Malaysia
Posted By:   |  01 Apr 2009   |  3:23 pm GMT  |  27 comments

Twitter seems to be overloaded at the moment, so this is just a brief post to say that it’s just started hammering down with rain here in Kuala Lumpur.

That doesn’t mean it’s going to rain on Sunday afternoon, although there is a 60% chance, apparently, as afternoon turns to evening.

It does mean that the weather has broken. I’ve been here since the early hours of Tuesday and it’s been sunny and dry the whole time, Now I’m sitting in the open sided lobby of the hotel (the only place you can get a wireless signal) and we have a full on electrical storm going on around us, with rain streaming down the gulleys. Sadly my room is the other side of the gardens, so I’ll have to stay here for a while longer.

I note a few people posting about jenson Button’s ability in the wet. He’s pretty handy as far as I’m aware. He was very strong, but went off at the Nurburgring in 2007 and of course he rode his luck and tyre choices at Budapest in 2006 to win. I don’t think people need to worry about him in the rain, not least because he has the most downforce of any car in the field and downforce is critical in the wet. Vettel has a 10 place penalty (as my correspondents have pointed out) but he is outstanding in the wet, so……

The Bridgestone wet tyres are more or less the same this year as last, by the way, even though the dry tyres are totally different now.

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I am sure Lewis is praying and doing some tribal dance hourly for that rain - in quali and well as the race!


Good to know that Jens should be ok then. Vettel has a 10 place penalty i think though so he'd have to pull something out of the bag to make the podium from presumably a best of 13th on the grid.

Could really play into Hamilton's hands, he's probably the best driver on the grid in wet weather conditions. If he continues to pick up good points whilst his car is really bad he could still be in with a shout of the championship when McLaren get their act together.

Keep us updated James. What do you mostly get up to on weekdays before the racing starts at the circuit? Would be interesting to know what you media types are up to !


Lewis likes the wet too. Another dual-brit podium on the cards?


How enjoyable it'd be to see the cars going slower than the safety car again if it rains. Who will forget the 2001 downpour?! Back then Ross Brawn was the talk of things like today, only that his genius decision of putting the Ferrari's on inters whilst the whole field were on full wets was won Ferrari the race, a 1-2 for Schumi and Rubens.... even after their race went belly up when the rain came down! Brilliant race!


It really is a shame Vettel has to carry a grid penalty. If we do, as expected, see rain this weekend, we could be missing out on a terrific battle up front.


I have noticed this photo [ http://img25.imageshack.us/my.php?image=sepang09.jpg" rel="nofollow">link ] online and been told this was the view from the circuit recently.

Anything like that and even the safety car would drown.


Vettel's going back 10 places isn't he? But he'll quickly move up through the field if it's a wet start to the race.


Oh, and btw James, you claim Vettel will qualify well again...well conisdering his 10 place penalty, the highest he will qualify in any weather is 11th, probably 13th or worst. I am still hopeful he can come up through the field on raceday in the rain though. Just a shame I am working so I won't see the race live (damn these late starts!) Sicky?


Jenson is supreme in the wet, arguably the best out there. There have been occasions where he's been 4 secs/lap faster (Nurburgring?) than anyone else on the track on the same tyres. Rubens is also very strong (+ Lewis and + Vettel). Little reason to doubt that the Brawn will be good in the wet as well - lots of downforce and we've also heard how smooth the power delivery of the Merc engine is.

It will be interesting to see what KERS is like in the wet - I doubt you'll want an extra 80hp on the exit of corners, so presumably it will just be used on the straights?


I seem to recall a very strong wet weather drive from Jenson earth in his career on Hockenheim. Not quite up there with Lewis from Silverstone last year, though. They say rain is a great leveller, but you still need a good car in order to exploit the opportunity. The balance in performance swings (slightly) towards mechanical grip and drivability, so let's not be too hopeful of McLaren's chances. In the wet I'd expect to see the Brawns and the Red Bulls right up there. The rest of the order is anyone's guess.


Enjoy listening to the frogs singing all night long, rejoicing that the monsoon has arrived early!


An all red back row looms perhaps 🙂
Massa is useless in the wet and Kimi needs a much better car to allow his talent to work.

As Peter said, Ross's brain may (probably will) be the deciding factor in the race. Assuming Jense does what he is told.

What are the odds of a race start on full wets under the SC?


It would be interesting if they were able to run under those conditions (which I doubt). There are some good wet-weather specialists in the field. Jenson and Rubens up front are obvious choices, with Vettel spectacular as you have already mentioned (even a ten-place penalty could be negated by the rain). Then further back you have people like Lewis, Mark Webber (Fuji 2007, anyone?), Nick Heidfeld (Silverstone 2008 was amazing), Adrian Sutil (Monaco 2008) and even Sébastien Bourdais, who probably would've made it a Toro Rosso 1-2 at Monza last year if it wasn't for his stall relegating him to the pit lane.

So yes. A wet race that could be run at the time the GP is scheduled for could be very interesting, especially with the cars behind the Brawns being much closer than last year.


(1) we don't know how different cars will cope in race trim in the rain, so people hoping it will give Lewis a chance MIGHT be disappointed.

(2) some people are hoping for rain ... why? You like lotteries? You might get so much rain that you don''t get a race at all. Happy then?


In 2000 in Jenson's first season with Williams at Hockenheim he finished 4th and would have been higher if the rain had come earlier he was the quickest on the track with the rain...there's no doubting his ability.


I guess you're all forgeting the marvelous drive Barrichello did at Silverstone last year... i think you guys shouldn't forget about this threat just under the same roof....
but if i were to bet someone it would be Vettel on the rain or even dry...


if he wasn't to be punished of course


I just want to say that I discovered your blog over the lonnnng winter (sans f1) and have loved the regular information. I was in withdrawl over xmas when you didnt post for several days but now that the season has started, I'm loving the "inside" information, because god knows you cant believe anything you read on the official F1 site. -- Ray from Vancouver Canada


I still can not understand why Vettel got 10 place penalty for racing and defending his second place.


so far, I only encounter one occasion where heavy rain pour on the race day. It was during A1GP 2006 where Nico Hulkenberg trashed the whole grid on the day particular day.

And it was totally different scenario with F1 2001.

Being a regular at Sepang, there is a myth of the 'weather consultant' doing what he do best each time a grand prix held here.

So It is up to individual to have their judgement to believe it.


rain is always fun but in this case as the race is late at 5pm and if it rains (like it always does here in Malaysia - I live here by the way and I'd put my money on it raining) then all that excuse of bernie having the races later to cater to european time would just wash down the drain, instead of europeans waking up to watch the race at a more comfortable time, they'll wake up to no race..so there you go bernie..smart..


We could have a race suspension in Sepang if it rains hard enough.
This will be extremely interesting because the "Race Suspension" rules are a bit unusual, and will leave the drivers and cars sitting in line on the track in the pouring rain. I cant remember ever seeing a suspension under these rules, the last time it happened I'm pretty sure the cars came into the pits.

41.2 When the signal is given overtaking is forbidden, the pit exit will be closed and all cars must proceed slowly to the red flag line where they must stop in a line on the pole position side of the track.
Any cars between the red flag line and the leader, in addition to any lapped cars between cars on the lead lap, will then be moved into a line on the opposite side of the grid. They will then resume the race from this position in accordance with Article 42.3.
If the safety car has been directed into the pit lane (see Article 40.10) cars should stop in line in the fast lane of the pits.


yes i do remeber 🙂
i hope barrichello does it because its goodfor everyone to have a balanced championship
but you know these days we don't really have someone that outperform the others in a obliterating way in the rain like senna or even schumacher did in ther days...
just to remeber two races that massa did well
in nurburgring '07 and monaco '08
but at silverstone '08... i was ashamed to be suporting him... lol because it was ugly
but you see my point? nowadays there is no regenmeister like senna was...
so it is just one big lottery!


It looks pretty obvious after replays.

Vettel brakes to early then get off the brakes when he sees Kubica's braking late; and ultimately collides with him due to his cooked tyres.


Yes,I totally agree with you..And remeber Suzuka 2003? Barricehllo is the happiest man in te rain...And with the right car,who knows...He could be winning the race by a country mile...


Agreed on point 1, if anything with this new McLaren Lewis will be even worse off than if it was dry, given their lack of downforce. Driver ability seems to be overrated when it comes to wet races I think, having an optimum setup and a clever strategy would seem to be more important to me. That doesn't mean some drivers cant get more out of their cars than others in the wet, but an undrivable car is an undrivable car, no matter who's in the cockpit.

Normally I'd disagree with you on point 2 as the rain gives a chance to shake up the order, but right now the order is so shaken up already I just want to know where the teams stand on a good yardstick track.


Who else believes Vettel is actually Schumi's son (albiet going under his mothers maiden name or something) its scary how alike they are, (and now he's also the 'rain master'), and not least the physical facial features...

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