Sep 29, 2016

    Drivers devoid of data on Sepang's upgraded track


    IT WILL be a whole new ballgame for the Formula 1 teams competing in the Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) this weekend.

    With the 5.543km circuit having been resurfaced, the 22 drivers from the 11 teams will go into tomorrow's practice sessions in the dark as they have no previous race data to compare.

    The track was closed in February this year for RM15 million (S$4.9 million) resurfacing and upgrading works before it was opened in May for the World Superbike Championship (WSBK).

    SIC chief executive Razlan Razali believes the race will throw up a few surprises.

    "The teams and tyre supplier Pirelli have no idea of the level of tyre degradation. Our circuit is the only resurfaced track in F1 this season.

    "The asphalt is specially formulated to withstand the climate and weather of Malaysia but we expect degradation of the new tyres after a certain number of laps.

    "No one knows how much degradation will happen. And with the unpredictable weather and high humidity, I think fans can expect another exciting time at the race," said Mr Razlan.

    The 56-lap Malaysian race is the 16th round of this year's championship. German Sebastian Vettel won the race for Ferrari last season.

    Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton are currently battling each other for the drivers' title. Rosberg has 273 points, eight ahead of second-placed Hamilton, with five rounds left.