Following one of the closer opening races of recent years, the circus is moving straight on to Sepang in Malaysia, where the hot climate can stress new engines that are on their second race weekend.
The Sepang circuit is modern and challenging in almost every respect. A combination of long, fast corners is interspersed with long straights and slow corners; varying cambers and a wide track offer choice of line, whilst hot temperatures stress engines and drivers.
Sepang offers several overtaking opportunities, reducing the importance of grid position compared to getting race strategy right. That said, the lessons from qualifying in Bahrain should be clear, and some differences ought to be in the offing. For example, teams that expect to comfortably make the top ten will head out earlier in the knockout sessions, as the couple of tenths they may make from a little more rubber on the track is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
After feeling the pinch of the 110% rule, Ferrari rued their lost allocation of a lap of fuel that possibly cost the race, so expect teams that are marginal on their top up requirements to be aggressive in dealing with traffic, even on their in and out laps.