Analysis: F1 Suffers Malaysian Heat

Pity the drivers in Sunday's Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix if the safety car is called out

Analysis: F1 Suffers Malaysian Heat

That, and the pitstops, will make for an agonising experience in Sepang, where track temperatures regularly exceed 40 degrees Celsius - the cockpit can reach 50 degrees - and humidity can reach 90 percent.

For an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon there will be nowhere to hide. Anything that slows a driver down, such as the safety car, merely piles on the pain.

"You want a very fast race, no safety cars and just get it over and done with," says Williams' Australian Mark Webber, who has yet to finish a race at Sepang in three attempts.

"When you stop for a pitstop you might think that's nice but it's just the worst thing you can do because of the heat, there's so much heat around the pitstops. When you're behind the safety car as well it can be extremely hot."

At other circuits, particularly in Europe, roaring down the straights allows a driver the time to gather composure and cool down.

Bahrain, an addition to the calendar last year, and this season's newcomer Turkey are also hot races but neither have the humidity factor.

"There's no escape, it's just the heat. Your chest, your head, how hot everything gets. You're just screaming for something a bit cooler from somewhere but there is no place to hide," said Webber.

Water Problem

In Malaysia, heat fatigue and dehydration are real dangers.

"This is the only circuit where you drive and you can feel the hot air coming into the helmet, it's really strange," said Briton Jenson Button, who took the first podium of his career for BAR in Malaysia last year. "It makes it quite difficult to breathe.

"It's the only circuit where you feel that you could be getting a sun tan through your suit. You can feel the heat through your suit."

Drivers can lose up to four litres of fluid during the race and a malfunctioning water bottle can have as much impact on performance as anything mechanical.

Two years ago, Button's did not work and it is not an experience he does not want to repeat.

"I lost my water bottle and just couldn't get any drink at all. I was so wet I started shivering for the last 20 laps of the race, it was pretty scary," he said. "Then your vision starts going after that, you dehydrate."

Even when there is a steady supply of fluid, there is not a lot of comfort.

"The problem is keeping it cold," said Button. "It's like drinking tea after three laps. You get past the cool bit which is in the pipe and then it's boiling water."

shares
comments
Zonta Fastest in Practice 1 - Malaysia
Previous article

Zonta Fastest in Practice 1 - Malaysia

Next article

Grapevine: Todt: Wedding and Malaysia Retirement

Grapevine: Todt: Wedding and Malaysia Retirement
Load comments
How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits Plus

How getting sacked gave Mercedes F1’s tech wizard lasting benefits

He’s had a hand in world championship-winning Formula 1 cars for Benetton, Renault and Mercedes, and was also a cog in the Schumacher-Ferrari axis. Having recently ‘moved upstairs’ as Mercedes chief technical officer, James Allison tells STUART CODLING about his career path and why being axed by Benetton was one of the best things that ever happened to him

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback Plus

The remarkable qualities that propelled Kubica’s F1 comeback

It’s easy to look at
 Robert Kubica’s second Formula 1 career and feel a sense of sadness that he didn’t reach the heights for which he seemed destined. But as BEN ANDERSON discovered, performance and results are almost meaningless in this context – something more fundamental and incredible happened…

Formula 1
Nov 27, 2021
The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren  Plus

The humbling changes Ricciardo made to deliver the goods for McLaren 

From being lapped by his own team-mate in Monaco to winning at Monza, it’s been a tumultuous first season at McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo. But, as he tells STUART CODLING, there’s more to the story of his turnaround than having a lovely summer holiday during Formula 1's summer break...

Formula 1
Nov 26, 2021
The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title Plus

The potential benefits of losing the F1 constructors' title

As the battle continues to rage over the F1 2021 drivers' championship, teams up and down the grid are turning their attentions to the prize money attributed to each position in the constructors' standings. But F1's sliding scale rules governing windtunnel and CFD use will soften the blow for those who miss out on the top places

Formula 1
Nov 25, 2021
The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher Plus

The invisible enemy that’s made Hamilton’s title charge tougher

After winning his past few Formula 1 titles at a canter, Lewis Hamilton currently trails Max Verstappen by eight points heading into the final double-header of 2021. Although Red Bull has been his biggest on-track challenge, Hamilton feels that he has just as much to grapple with away from the circuit

Formula 1
Nov 24, 2021
Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay Plus

Why F1’s inconvenient penalties have to stay

OPINION: Quibbles over the length of time taken by Formula 1's stewards over decisions are entirely valid. But however inconvenient it is, there can be no questioning the importance of having clearly defined rules that everyone understands and can stick to. Recent events have shown that ambiguity could have big consequences

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax Plus

The mistakes Red Bull cannot afford to repeat in F1 2021’s title fight climax

OPINION: Red Bull has had Formula 1’s fastest package for most of 2021, but in several of the title run-in events it has wasted the RB16B’s potential. It cannot afford to do so again with Lewis Hamilton motoring back towards Max Verstappen in the drivers’ standings with two rounds remaining

Formula 1
Nov 23, 2021
Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Qatar Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Qatar was a virtual unknown for most as Formula 1 made its inaugural visit to the Gulf state, and tyre management quickly emerged as an even more critical factor than normal. Perhaps then it should come as no surprise that two of the championship's elder statesmen produced standout drives

Formula 1
Nov 22, 2021