Can Lotus repeat in Malaysia? Insight into how the racing will pan out
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Mar 2013   |  5:56 pm GMT  |  100 comments

This weekend the F1 teams move to Sepang, Malaysia for the second round of the championship. After the stunning victory of Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus in Melbourne, all of the leading teams will have gone away to look at how they can work on their car to help the strategy.

The goal will be to try to emulate Lotus’ ability to run at a strong pace while using one less set of tyres (and therefore one less pit stop) than the opposition.

The conditions in Melbourne were cool. Last year Lotus was stronger in hot conditions, like Malaysia and Bahrain. If they still have that ability to cope with the heat in the tyres, then they have every chance to repeat this weekend.

Here are the strategic considerations for the weekend.

Track characteristics
Sepang International Circuit; 5.54 kilometres. Race distance: 56 laps = 310 kilometres, 15 corners in total, a mixture of slow, medium and fast

Aerodynamic setup – Medium/high downforce. Top speed 312km/h (with Drag Reduction System on rear wing) – 300km/h without.

Full throttle – 70% of the lap. Total fuel needed for race distance: 153 kilos.

Time spent braking: 15% of the lap. 8 braking zones. Brake wear: Medium.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 16.5 seconds
Total time needed for pit stop: 22.5 seconds.

The pit lane speed limit in Sepang is 100km/h, which means faster pit stops than Melbourne.

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.36 seconds (average/high)

The Malaysian Grand Prix is the second round of the 2013 FIA F1 World Championship. The Sepang circuit is one of the first F1 venues to have been designed by architect Hermann Tilke and features his trademark long straights, hairpins and fast esses.

It also has a distinctive first corner which turns right and then left and always results in a big change of field order, with drivers winning and losing positions at the start of the race.

The circuit features a number of high energy corners, quite different in character from Albert Park, which hosted the opening round and much harder on the tyres.

The first and third sectors of the lap at Sepang feature long straights and hairpin bends, while sector two has some medium and high speed corners, which load up the tyres.

Form Guide
As far as drivers’ form is concerned at Sepang, Fernando Alonso has won the race three times and Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen have won it twice, while Jenson Button has also won here.

Ferrari has six Sepang wins, McLaren and Red Bull have two wins each.

Red Bull has stunning one lap pace and is likely to qualify on the front row again. Mark Webber has always gone well in Sepang so he could pose a threat for pole. Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus will follow. Lotus showed in Melbourne that it has a good handle on managing the new Pirelli tyres over a long run in cold conditions. In Malaysia we will see if they can replicate that in warm conditions.

Lotus conducted Pirelli’s tyre tests with Jaime Alguersuari using a 2010 Renault car; the tyre data was kept behind a Chinese wall, but clearly they must have understood some of the characteristics of the tyre from that experience.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations
Pirelli tyre choice for Sepang: Medium (Option) and Hard (Prime) – this is the same choice as in 2012.

Pirelli has chosen to bring the medium and hard tyres to Sepang, the hardest compounds in the range, to cope with the high temperatures, abrasive surface and faster corners. Temperatures are also raised by the high wheel rotation speeds on the long straights.

The difference in performance between compounds should be between 0.5 and 0.7sec per lap. Teams will want to establish this and the long run performance of both tyres during Friday practice. The data on the Medium tyre from Melbourne showed that the longest stint was 30 laps by a Sauber, while race winner Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest lap of the race on a set of mediums that had done 22 laps. Sepang will present a far stiffer challenge.

Sepang has three major differences from Melbourne, which make it more challenging from a race strategy point of view: higher track temperatures, a rougher track surface and the presence of medium and fast corners, which load up the tyre. There is usually also the threat of rain.

Temperature is critical; Sepang experiences track temperatures of up to 45 degrees, some of the highest of the year, which is at the top end of the tyres’ operating range. The medium tyre is designed for lower operating temperatures, the hard for higher temperatures. The opening stint with 150 kilos of fuel on board, likely to be on medium tyres for most cars, is very hard on the tyres.

Number and likely timing of pit stops
From a strategy point of view a pit stop at Sepang is similar to Melbourne at 22 seconds. And the long straights mean that the adjustable rear wing (DRS wing) is quite effective, making overtaking possible. This means strategists of leading teams will not have to be overly concerned about bringing their driver out into slower traffic after a pit stop.

Last year’s race was wet, but pre-race simulations indicated that a two stop strategy was faster than three by around 3 to 4 seconds.

This would envisage starting on mediums, using a new set of mediums at the first stop on lap 16 and then a set of new hards on lap 34. Although the three stopping car is ahead after 40 laps, he is not able to gain enough margin to stay ahead after his final stop, nor to catch the two stopping car by the end. But it is close. There could be an advantage, therefore, to saving a new set of medium tyres from qualifying, of possible.

Rain can always affect the outcome at Sepang as it can come at any time and can be very intense. Last year the race was delayed by heavy rain. There must always be a degree of flexibility built into race strategy when planning for Sepang.

After Lotus successfully made one less stop than its rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in Melbourne, all eyes will be on them to see whether they can repeat that in Sepang. The car’s gentle action on the tyres certainly gives them a strategic advantage.

It will also be important to establish during practice whether the hard tyre is relatively fast enough that a pit stop might be saved by using it earlier in the race. This would save over 20 seconds plus help gain track positions.

Weather Forecast
The forecast is for hot and humid conditions with a 30% chance of thunderstorms on Sunday. Last year’s race was very wet at the start and there were delays and safety cars.

Chance of a safety car
Despite the weather hazards, the chance of a safety car at Sepang is incredibly low, by F1 standards, at 15% over last 7 years and an average of 0.1 safety cars per race. Where a safety car has been deployed it’s usually been because of heavy rain, as in 2009 and again last year, when it was out for seven laps.

Recent start performance
Start performance is hugely important to strategy, as we saw in Melbourne, with Webber losing five places off the grid which he could not recover, while Raikkonen and Alonso’s results were both set up by excellent starts.
At Sepang a fully functioning KERS is important, as the run to the first corner from the start is quite long at over 600 metres.
As far as 2013 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season as follows:


+3 Raikkonen
+2 Perez
+2 Bottas
+2 Bianchi
+2 Massa
+2 Alonso
+2 Sutil
+1 Maldonado
+1 Gutierrez
+1 Chilton
+1 Van der Garde
+1 Di Resta
+1 Button

Held position



-1 Vergne
-2 Hamilton
-3 Grosjean
-5 Webber*
-6 Ricciardo
(Hulkenberg did not start in Australia)
*Webber dropped from second to seventh after a clutch problem in Australia

Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.

The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their average stop time in Australia from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it.

1. Ferrari – 21.646
2. Mercedes – 21.961
3. Red Bull – 22.263
4. Sauber – 22.315
5. Lotus – 22.359
6. McLaren – 22.462
7. Force India – 22.875
8. Marussia – 23.142
9. Williams – 23.475
10. Toro Rosso – 23.706
11. Caterham – 23.751

The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is prepared by James Allen on F1 with input and data from strategists from several F1 teams and Pirelli

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I think the teams that have managed to build a boat in the few days since Australia will have the best chance of winning in Sepang.


Good one. I hear McLaren will have a new driver named Noah.


I cannot wait. I love Formula one.


Awesome comment! I agree.


This year there will be two DRS zones, both will be on the long straights but the 'new' DRS zone on the back straight will be much longer than the 'old' DRS zone on the front straight up to the finish line. During the previous two years I found the DRS zone to be quite ok as far as artificial overtaking is concerned, but I fear that the 'new' DRS zone will make the overtaking way too easy. Any idea why the FIA is doing this? Is it because of the new DRS-usage limitations during qualy that they are extending the amount and length of DRS zones? It will probably only make RBR's dominance during qualy even bigger...


Making two consecutive straights DRS zones will give the overtaken driver an opportunity to make the place back and voila, we have double the amount of overtaking for the fans. Im guessing that is the rationale behind the FIA's decision, which I think is good. It will make for awesome viewing and it make the DRS rule a bit fairer.

But smart drivers with great race-craft do what Alonso did in Australia. Use the first zone to get really close and not overtake even if you can, so that you have the second DRS zone to make sure you get ahead and the other guy can't get back at you.


Thanks for pointing out why several of the drivers were not passing until the second DRS zone in OZ land.

I actually thought they just didn't get close enough on the initial straight to pass in the turn.

Suddenly a light turns on, not only do they make sure the passed driver doesn't get a chance to repay the favor, they get to chip away just that much more at the lead or building a lead as the case may be.


I think there's only one detection zone which means that the guy being passed at the first DRS zone shouldn't be able to use his DRS in the second zone - unless of course he was less than a second behind someone at the detection


I share your fear, excessively long DRS zones really destroy the skill and exceitment of overtaking which should be one of the highlights of the sport.

I don't have a problem with small zones on circuits that are poorly designed with regards to overtaking opportunities (eg Circuit de Catalunya) but Sepang should need only minimal DRS zones as the long straights with hairpin corners should make overtaking without DRS very possible.


I suspect Lotus will be very good in Malaysia also, but with Ferrari snapping at their heels. Red Bull I think will suffer from excessive degradation in the performance sapping temperatures unless they can tweak something in the meantime. Mercedes I suspect will improve from better understanding from the team and increased temperatures. McLaren also may improve slightly here as they start to better understand their new car. Of course on the day anything can happen with rain and safety car so we might just end up with a very mixed up race.


Surely at this stage kimi has to be the favourite as the lotus last year was always better in hotter temps and we already seem how good it is in the cooler temps. Of course if its wet its anyone's guess but I'd go for rosberg.


I see they have 2 DRS zones on the 2 longest straights.

So with a DRS-Fest in prospect I've decided to make other plans this weekend & will not watch the F1!!!!!

Im sick of this stupid artificial DRS wing totally destroying the racing by producing a series of boring & unexciting push of a button passes.

With 2 zones on most tracks this year there's just going to end up been a lot less real & exciting overtaking with a lot more boringly easy & totally unexciting DRS drive-by's.

Can see this been the year I totally give up on F1 after been an avid fan since the early 70s 🙁


Peter, I understand that you are an adult as you seem to watch races from 70th. Why do you think people should know that you will not watch this race and that F1 will loose a loyal fan?

If you do not feel like watching anymore...just do not need to say it here. In fact, I am sure that you will watch.....

Just decide and stick to it.


You do realise that using DRS to pass a car does not automatically give the passing driver ANY help at all to stay ahead of the car he just passed? DRS allows overtaking, it does NOT magically give drivers places. Use it to pass a car that is actually faster than you, and you will be relegated backwards in the next DRS zone, simple. Unless we ban today's aero and therefore slow the cars, it's the best solution we have.


"DRS allows overtaking"

not it doesn't it generates easy & unexciting highway passing.


"it’s the best solution we have."

But it isn't.

The tyres are working better than DRS is improve the racing so im not sure we really need the drs anymore.

also a better solution would be the indycar style p2p system, that's improved the racing, improved overtaking opportunities without making things too easy or leaving the car been passed unable to defend.

drs is the laziest solution which just ends up creating a dozen easy/boring highway passes.


2 DRS zones shouldn't make too much difference. It's been done as DRS has been banned in qualy so if there was only one zone everyone would likely gear their cars longer making DRS much less effective. 2 zones will balance this out.


"making DRS much less effective."at melbourne (where there were 2 zones in 2012) the changes made drs more & not less effective & there was double the drs-ing there was last year.

thats my biggest fear with having 2 drs zones everywhere (apart monaco/suzuka) this year. your just going to end up with way more drs-ing & much less real overtaking.

as much as i dislike the drs system the balance in 2012 was more often than not about right. this year i fear its going to go the other way where drs becomes the primary way to pass.

also the drs zone locations on some circuits are stupid. the 2nd zone at austin will be going into turn 1, we saw plenty of good racing without drs going into t1 last year so why put drs there?

same at interlagos, the 2nd zone is going into turn 1, don't need a drs zone there as we get proper racing there anyway.

put the drs zones places where we don't traditionally see a great deal of overtaking, don't put it in the places where we traditionally always saw a good level of racing/overtaking!!!!!


You've hit the nail on the head.

I am pro-DRS but it is truly ridiculous to place it in locations that have a proven historical record of producing overtaking. The zone at Spa is the epitome of this for me.

The art of defense is something that we need to keep in F1, and that's often the most exciting thing to watch. The most memorable races for me feature battles that go on for many many laps and the overtake is planned with the forethought of a chess move.

DRS has it place, but there should be some opportunity to present a challenge to the overtaking driver.

Schumacher v Hamilton at Monza? Loved it.




One of my biggest dislikes of DRS is when the car in front is left totally defenseless & the car behind simply opens DRS & then goes straght past with relative ease.

Some of the most exciting/intense racing I’ve seen have been when you have had one driver defending with a car behind doing everything to try & find a way past, I loved those 2 great Alonso/Schumacher battles at Imola in 05/06, I was kept on the edge of my seat through to the end of those 2 races watching 2 great drivers racing each other hard. OK no overtake occurred but it was thrilling to watch.

When there is zero chance to overtake & the cars behind are not able to even attempt an overtake then yes it can get a bit dull.

The problem however is that DRS often swings things too far the other way, Instead of overtaking been too hard, It often then becomes far too easy & I think thats equally as bad.

One of the thing which got me hooked on racing is the racing, I love watching close racing, I love watching good/close racing battles & I love watching good, exciting overtaking & to me DRS produces none of these & over the past 2 seasons its been doing nothing but hurt my enjoyment of the races to the point where my attention has started to go elsewhere.

I remember in the Pre-DRS era, Watching one car starting to catch another was exciting, Watching that car looking for ways to overtake was exciting & watching any eventual overtaking move was exciting. Now I all too often find myself getting excited over one car catching another only for that car to hit DRS & breeze straght past when he gets there, No excitement, No tension over a good battle, Nothing & that really kills my enjoyment of the race.

One example from last year was Montreal, Watching Lewis catching Vettel/Alonso got my heart rate up, However he then passes Vettel super easily in the DRS zone & it was then blatantly obvious he woudl do the same to Alonso when he caught him, For me there was nothing exciting about that, Especially since the pass for the lead/win was predictable before he even caught him.

If you go back & watch the pass for the lead, Lewis starts to pull alongside but begins to stall out & as a result we woudl have been treated to a great battle down to the braking zone, However as soon as they got to the DRS line Lewis pushed his button & was driven clean past, Boring!

Im not saying that I necessarily prefer what we had before as overtaking was harder than it could have been, I accept that. However I don’t believe DRS is the answer because I feel its taken things way too far the other way, Overtaking is now too easy & there’s now so much of it that I feel its starting to be devalued. I also believe that the drivers that are great overtakers are also now not standing out as much as they used to because everyone can pass & there’s now less need for that exciting dive up the inside which made guys like Hamilton, Kobayashi & Juan Montoya stand out like they did & become fan favorites as a result.

In the DRS-era we are seeing more passing, A lot more, However we are now seeing a lot less exciting overtaking & thats the thing I hate the most!


I'm so bored of [mod] moaning about DRS. Yes, sometimes it is not perfect, but it is so much better than the processional races of the 2000s when aero performance and turbulent air made overtaking almost impossible. This era is one of the best (I started watching F1 in the early 1990s). Nothing is perfect in life,[mod]


Agreed. If you're going to skip the race do it quietly and let everyone else get excited about the rich field and all the former WDC's out there milling about.


Luckily se pang is so likely to be wet you'll probably see the DRS disabled anyway so enjoy the GP.


Of course, I forgot... the processional races with 1 or 2 overtakes (outside the pit stops) in a 90 minute race were so much more interesting to watch...


why do people always go back to that argument?

#1 there were never that many races which features only 1-2 overtakes, the average was always much higher.

#2 your ignoring the pirelli factor. all of the good racing since 2011 has been caused by the tyres so you could dump drs & the racing would still be good.

as to my thoughts on drs in general.

was open minded to it when it was introduced, am now firmly against it.

i've seen it in action for 2 years & think it done very little to improve the racing or make it more exciting. its made overtaking far too easy & does nothing but produce easy passing which ain't exciting to watch.

if i wanted to watch the sort of passing drs produces i'd go watch nascar.


What is it with this DRS hate now? It has been to prevent Trulli-trains. Simple. Has the racing not been super exciting in the last couple of years? Some people can find happiness in nothing.


"What is it with this DRS hate now?"

The DRS hate is nothing new, It's been there since the DRS concept was announced in Mid-2010 & has actually been growing the past few months.

Also I'd argue that the Anti-DRS brigade are the majority & growing portion of the F1 fans. I say this based on all the online polling & debates I have seen recently.

At the start of 2011 the Fan opinion on DRS was fairly evenly split, Everything I have seen since shows that the majority are now against DRS or at least the way the DRS system is been run.


"Has the racing not been super exciting in the last couple of years?"

watching push of a button highway passes on straights where the car ahead is unable to do anything to even attempt to defend his position, isn't exciting!

All of the best, most exciting bits of racing have happened well outside of the DRS zones so DRS has done nothing to improve the racing or make it more exciting.

The problem with DRS is that it was only supposed to be temporary & it was only supposed to be an assist. However its no longer temporary & does way more than just assist so its been a total failure.


"What is it with this DRS hate now?"

Because its an artificial gimmick which has devalued overtaking to the point that its boring to watch now.

Im sick of watching a car behind push a button & then just drive easily past in the middle of the straght, I don't find anything exciting or even moderately interesting about boring highway passing like that.

I would much rather a race with fewer overtakes which are actually exciting to watch than a race with tons of passing thats all boring to watch!


I'm fairly sure even Senna had a boost button on his steering wheel in the turbocharged days


'Now'? It has been non-stop since 2011!

Excessive DRS interference is detrimental imo, so I agree to an extent with some of the complaints this week (that the double DRS zone in Malaysia is too much).


Have you noticed how the better the driver, the more likely he is to overtake somewhere other than a DRS zone? It's almost as though they know the defender of position will use KERS to defend the place, and then get caught out elsewhere..


Can't help but be impressed with Lotus, I've even started to be impressed by Kimi( have to admire his attitude among all the bull that permeates F1). A repeat is definately on the cards. Same( a repeat) for McClaren; how have they, with all their experience and resources managed to create such a dog of a car. Lewis must must be splitting his sides. Are McC. helping Caterham out? as they too have excelled themselves this year. Oh yeah, McClaren ECU anyone?


Aah the Malaysian Grand Prix, that race every driver is worried about as it's that race where they lose a couple of kilos through sweat >>> dialu-alukan (Welcome)!

Okay, after Lotus pulled the rug on everybody in Australia, I suspect, every team is going to try their utmost to make 2 stop strategy work.

Now seeing as the supersoft tyre isn't available for this race, I think teams won't struggle with the two stop for the medium is rather durable but of course this would make teams like Lotus employ the one stop strategy just to keep it fair.

As for safety, I guess Tilke deserves a round of applause due to the fact that his tracks are built with the primary purpose of keeping the safety car parked in the paddock.

Regards the pitstop league table, am surprised Mclaren are in 6th place on average for I saw a 2.4 second stop by Jenson and I imagined they would have been top.

Ferrari must be doing something right (despite never practicing) and no wonder anybody Alonso follows into the pits usually ends up losing the pitstop race.


JB's stops were rather quick, but I think Perez struggled a bit more to hit his marks in the pits which resulted in a few slower stops. JB seems to have mastered the art of popping the clutch and generating controlled wheel spin while still up on the jacks, so that as soon as they lower him he is away - the Sky F1 boys were discussing it a bit. There is speculation that McLaren could actually pull a 2.0 second pit stop this year, if everything went to perfection on that stop. It's such a tough start to the year for McLaren that I hope they at least manage to do that...



Did you mean the 2013 season in this paragraph,

As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season as follows:


They are for the Aus GP 2013. They are distorted as Hulkenberg didn't even make the grid and the plusses are artificially high, therefore the + and - should equal zero.



Is it possible for Red bull,Ferrari and Merc to see the video footage/spy photos of Lotus and understand their secret of their tyres and implement them in the European races or this is something that is built in inside the Lotus?

The 2013 Lotus car is different than the 2010 one right, if so how can they learn the tyre character?

Thanks for you awesome analysis of the Australian GP and the pre-race analysis of Malaysia. Can you please bring back the race strategy calculator?


I strongly support the race strategy calculator back!


Some Malaysian stats

i) F1 has been racing in Malaysia since 1999 and in that time Schumi & Alonso have been the most successful with 3 wins each

ii) Schumi won his 3 wins with Ferrari whilst Alonso's 3 wins came in 3 different teams (likewise Kimi's two wins have been with 2 different teams)

iii) Schumi and Vettel are the only back to back winners in Malaysia

iv) Malaysia is a Ferrari friendly circuit with 6 out of 14 races won by team.

v) Mercedes too are pretty decent in Malaysia with a P2 qualifying result and P3 race result for Rosberg in 2010

+ a P3 qualifying result for Schumi in 2013.

Val from montreal

Yup Schumacher's ghost will qualify 3rd again this year in 2013 .....


Dressed all in denim with cowboy boots. What a legend.


Rosberg goes well here, doesn't he? He's my tip.

It seems a long time ago that Timo was looking up at the big screen in disbelief at Kimi's fridge raiding!

How's the weather forecast anyway- is Fridgeraider 2 on the cards?

Bring Back Murray

No matter what the heat the Ice Man Cometh


I can tell you how the race will pan out, halfway through therwe will be a massive downpour and millions around the world will get bored as we look at kimi eat ice cream once again, because no one will do anything about moving the race out of that Stoopid time slot. Anyone local will tell you that south east Asia in monsoon season at that time of day is very likely gonna be 100% humid.

For how many years are we gonna watch bald, and white-haired men sit around and stare at the sky?


If I remember it right, Bernie would like to see man made showers in all races. And its Bernie who made the schedule ;-(


4pm now in Singapore and it's partly cloudy and dry here.

The weather forecast for Sepang on Sunday shows very little chance of rain as well.. Qualifying may be drenched though.


what is the expected life of medium & hard compounds on the circuit?

any chance Lotus will try only one stop?

Tornillo Amarillo

I guess Vettel can put it on pole and do whatever to keep the position this time in hot weather. With Webber close.

Then the Ferraris.

Then the Lotus, maybe both.

Hulkenberg will play then.

Sutil and the Mercedes also.

Perez should be better than in Melbourne.

I really don't like to have the cars with a 10-second gap at the end of the race and everybody nursing the Pirellis because you just get points, it's boring. "Consistency" is boring if that means "nursing tyres". I don't like drivers like Vettel being happy for getting P3...What is this?


I don't see why not, but I hope they don't, lol. GO FERRARI


It will be a crucial step forward for Lotus and Kimi if the car can handle the heat as well.
If Allison has found both cold temperature and warm temperature improvements to the Lotus, then his stock [already very high] will rocket skywards. How long can Lotus hang on to him ?
McLaren will be very keen, esp in view of their present troubles, and also God forbid, Mercedes.


James, what do you think of introducing three types of tyres, instead of two? I think, in terms of strategies and options, it would make a race more interesting and exciting. Don't you think?


It would cost a fortune in shipping tyres that would never get used


Perhaps the teams could choose their own two types of tyres in advance. Shipping would be the same and if someone could win with 5 stops for super-softs, I'd think that amazing.


What is the shelf-life of a tyre? If they can be shipped by sea, it really wouldn't be that expensive to ship them to the circuits. Might be interesting to give teams a choice of "two out of three" different sets for each circuit.

On the other hand, I think tyre management already has a too prominent role - it has always been a part of racing, but F1 is a motor racing sport, not a tyre-racing sport. To echo what Schumacher said last season, it would be great to give the drivers a chance to race, i.e. take corners at the maximum speed they can manage, not the maximum speed the tyres can manage. Pirelli must be happy with the current exposure they get, but once people associate their tyres with poor durability, it may backfire.


No, right now the exposure for Pirelli is fantastic. But it would turn sour if everyone continued to complain about tyres going off too quickly, poor performance from the Pirelli tyres, etc. If, say, Mercedes made very unreliable engines, and the teams it supplies would not finish any of their races, it would also be unwelcome attention that a sponsor like Mercedes would want to avoid. By contrast, nobody complained about the weight of the fuel.


Would that be the same poor exposure that shell would've got when we used to notice cars that were full of fuel would be slower than those behind who had less on board? Tyres wear out, grip lowers, you travel slower. It's a fact. Just as high fuel is. People still buy shell fuel, I'm sure people will continue to buy Pirelli tyres.

Tornillo Amarillo

Perez could use the tyres nobody does.


Hi James,

Are you able to clarify please whether these wins for Lotus (this year and last) are being counted as new wins or being added to the historical tally of the old team? There was so much in the press about it all 3 years ago with the Team vs Group battle, but then it all went quiet last year when Team Lotus becane Caterham and Group Lotus quietly took over the mantle. I've got a lot of time and respect for the guys at Enstone (whatever we call them), but it's a bit strange not really knowing who to think of them as.

Many thanks.


I think of them as Toleman, since the F1 website lists 1981 as their first year.

But something is wrong on the website, because they are listed with 2 WCCs, whereas they have 3 WCCs: 1 under Benneton name and 2 under Renault name.

They also have 4 WDCs: 2 from Schumacher and 2 from Alonso.

But wait: things get worse when looking at race victories. The website lists 37 race wins.

Under each name, they had:

Toleman: 0 wins.

Benneton: 27.

Renault: 20 (Renault's incarnations add up 35).

Lotus: 2.

How this adds up to the website's 37, I have no idea.



Very interesting - this is exactly my point. I think the team need to make an effort to try and resolve this with a bit of positive team identity publicity.

Darrin from Canada

Good work, now I'm curious too. James?


I'm also interested in this. I asked this question after Abu Dhabi last year, but i didn't get the answer yet...


I agree.

I'll check. When I spoke to team owner Gerard Lopez last year about this , before the wins, he said they were not using the Lotus heritage, rather the Enstone heritage (Benetton, Renault etc) hence the E20 name for the car


Thanks James, more info on this would be great. If that is the case and they're not using the Lotus heritage then it's a very sorry end to the whole Lotus name saga and makes a mockery of the whole 'double Lotus' re-entry into the sport... 🙁 It's almost as ridiculous as Caterham still running around in the old Lotus colours! I think it's great to see KR doing what he's doing, I just wish it was against a clearer backdrop.

Much appreciated.


I love the feature.

Boullier has been quoted saying (something like) Lotus is bringing some upgrades. I wondering if the have 'the device'?!?

Of course they would not have demonstrated it at Melbourne, even if they had it working.

I expect Mercedes to go well.

I think Red Bull will have a stronger comparative in race pace, and still dominate one lap pace.

I don't think it is too early to predict Bianchi in the points.

Hoping for strong races from Perez and Massa.

But recent history is monopoplized by world champions, and like most races this season, it will be world champions and/or Red Bull drivers who win, with the outside shooter, Grosjean.


Great point! I would love to see The Device in action. Perhaps RedBull has passive DRS in the pocket too. Guess we will find out in P1.


I believe Lotus have a new floor here in Malaysia.

Will keep an eye out for the "device"


I enjoyed your review James; especially the detailed track characteristics. I would love to see Lewis win, or even better, fellow Scott Paul DiResta, but I don't think either he or his car are there just yet. I fancy Kimi to win again; he has the bit between his teeth now. Looking forward to Sunday. Thank you.


I agree about the weather and time slot of the race. I lived in Malaysia and it often rains around 4pm like clockwork. I don't know why they don't start the race around noon.

Kimi Raikkonen is my pick. He and the Lotus were impressive last season and both he and the car look sharper again this season. He is also the coolest driver on the grid.


I would love it if they started it around noon local. That would make it around 10 or 11 my time instead of the 2:30 am it is now.


James can you give us some insight into today's high speed pitstops. I have noticed that with only 3 seconds to do any work the teams are using some sort of driver to adjust the front wings as there isn't time to adjust them manually. Are there any other processes that have changed due to the lack of time available? The swivelling jack is the most obvious but are there any others that we don't see?


Hi James,

Thanks for providing the preview on Malaysia. I had a question regarding the Lotus's DDRS aka "The Device". Is there any sort of update on it , I haven't noticed any talk about it in recent times apart from the fact that E21 has the infrastructure in place to incorporate it when needed. Did they run it in Melbourne , I'm pretty sure there are heaps of fans like me out there who would love more info the DDRS and are intrigued by it.



Val from montreal

"Ferrari has six Sepang wins, McLaren and Red Bull have two wins each."

Technically yes , but :

Schumacher 3 ( 2000 , 2001 , 2004 ) * 1999 *

Irvine 1 ( 1999 * )

Raikkonen 1 ( 2008 )

FA 1 ( 2012 )

Go Vettel !

Craig in Manila

Pretty-rare for a driver to win Oz GP and Malaysian GP in same year.

It's only been done three times in last ten seasons and, each time, it's fair to say (I think) that the driver was sitting in a pretty-special/dominant car :

Seb in 2011

Butt in 2009

Schu in 2004

As such, I'm not putting any money on Lotus for this one. It's RBR or Ferrari for me.

Having said that : GO KIMI !


In all the above three occasion those drivers have gone to win the championship + constructor.

So if Kimi wins, can we except the same?

Craig in Manila

That would be fine by me !


No. These are both reserved for Red Bull exclusively 😉


Yeah really hope Lotus get their passive DRS up to speed at Malaysia. I think they will surely need it and it will serve them well at Monza , Spa also. I don't think they can expect the same performance advantage to Australia as Malaysia will suit Merc and Ferrari and RBR because of high speed straights.

If Lotus have corrected their cool weather performance over last years E20 I really hope they have not lost their hot weather performance on degradation as this will be critical at Sepang the other thing still left on the to do lost is wet weather performance and this will prove game changing this weekend.


"Red Bull has stunning one lap pace"

I guess your idea of "stunning" is different from mine. Yes, RB did well in practice, on average, and qualified well in Australia, but only by a small margin, made a bit larger by perfect timing in drying conditions at the end of Q3. They certainly didn't stun anyone in P3. It's too early to tell, but the sentence might have said, "RB appears to still have good one-lap speed, but their advantage could well be smaller than last year".


I disagree. Vettel aborted his final, fastest lap in Q3. Had he not done that, I think his winning margin would have been even greater. RB really had dominant pace in qualifying, but it cost them. Perhaps they can afford to sacrifice a bit of raw pace in favour of better tyre treatment. In order to achieve the time, Vettel destroyed his tyres in Q3, which ultimately did not pay off.


Apparently Marco has said that RB need to concentrate more on race pace than outright one lap speed.


it's a damn shame that the team that blew everyone away in melbourne doesn't even have a title sponsor.

lotus could really use the bucks to allow them to keep the updates coming and challenge the bigger teams.

there has to be someone out there in the corporate world that is keen to build a relationship with lotus.

it's a no-brainer.


Good Point. Maybe Coca-Cola. Sugar drink vs caffeine drink. Paint the cars red. Have polar bear stickers on the sides.

Or maybe IKEA. Paint the car blue and yellow with an Allen Key painted on the front.


Coke is already sponsoring them through their Burn energy drink.


I'm sure I'm being thick, but I don't understand the safety car stats: 15% chance of a safety car with 0.1 per race. What am I missing?


Maybe rounding difference? Maybe the average is actually .14, but they rounded down for the decimal and rounded up for the percentage.


I guess that would explain the average number of safety cars being lower than the chances of at least one. The numbers still don't look right though - if there was one in 2009 and one last year that would be at least 30% and 0.3


.1 = 10%


James what are the chances of rain ?

Will this be a repeat of 2009 or 2012 ?

I do not know how a dry race is on the cards. you have stated here 30 % chance of rain on sunday

What are the chances of wet practice or qaulifiying

Hope we see a DRy quali and race. Though i fear rain will make the GP a boring one with plenty of intervals in between


Currently the forecast is 60% chance of rain for qualifying, 10% for the race.


"Start performance is hugely important to strategy, as we saw in Melbourne, with Webber losing five places off the grid"

"At Sepang a fully functioning KERS is important, as the run to the first corner from the start is quite long at over 600 metres"

Looks like Mark will be battling with the Marussias and Caterhams for most of Sunday then...




I hope tires are not gonna be the ONE MOST determining factor for a race win, this season.


Mr Allen, your pre and post race analysis

are superb,worth waiting for, in actual fact

more interesting then a half of a grid in

the race.

Thank you Sir.


One key factor for Lotus this year will be to stay out of trouble.

Qualifying in p5-10 is great if you can stop one less time and win the race that way, but the probabilities of getting caught in a lap one incident are higher.

They will have to manage this risk as best they can if they are to challenge for the world championship (where the most important thing is consistency)


Oh, if they were worried about first lap incidents they wouldn't have kept their driver line up unchanged. ¦¬)

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