A lap of Sepang

As the teams and drivers begin to gather in Malaysia for this weekend's final round of the Formula 1 World Championship, we asked McLaren Mercedes driver David Coulthard to talk us round the Sepang circuit

A lap of Sepang


Sepang is a flowing and busy little track, and it's not bad for a modern circuit. From seventh gear you go down to second gear for Turn 1. It's a very short blast before you turn in blind to Turn 2, where the circuit drops down. Obviously there's potential for overtaking there -- I passed Michael Schumacher last year!

The exit from Turn 2 is very straightforward. It's flat out all the way through Turn 3, up through the gears. Turn 4 is a classic 90 degree right-hander, where you go down into second gear. The track rises up as you go through the apex, which tends to give you a little bit of oversteer.

Then it's up through the gears, running flat all the way into Turn 5. You lift off as you go into the middle Turn 5 because you need to keep over to the left to get the right line for Turn 6. It's very important to have the aerodynamic balance right round there.

At the exit of Turn 6 you get onto full power and run down into Turns 7 and 8, which flow into one another. You take the apex of Turn 7, and the second part of the apex is actually Turn 8, so it becomes one. It's taken in third gear.

There's a short blast down into Turn 9, which is a bit like Turn 4; it's an uphill corner so it tends to bring the car round into a little bit of oversteer as you accelerate up and around. There's a bit of lateral load into Turn 11, which makes the entry quite tricky. It's very easy to overshoot it.

Then you accelerate down through the very fast chicane at Turn 12 and 13, which is flat on the entry. You have to lift quite late in the corner, because the road drops down and induces understeer into 13.

Turn 14 is a very tricky blind corner, so you tend to see people having two or three stabs at when to turn in. Once you actually arrive at the apex it's a very straightforward exit. You run down the back straight to Turn 15. The entry there is very wide, and you can actually try a lot of lines into there, none of which actually increase the overtaking opportunities, because of the low entry speed. But basically you're just trying to get set up for the apex and hard acceleration, using the kerb on the exit to finish the lap.

As I said you can pass at Turn 2, or into Turn 1, 4 or 15, if you get a good run. But the cars are all similar on acceleration and straightline speed now, so it's very hard.

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