Marcus Ericsson is impatient, admitting that he cannot wait for the second instalment of his new F1 career to come around.
The Swede enjoyed a better-than-expected run on debut in the Australian Grand Prix and, despite retiring just after half-distance, is eager to get back on track and continue his – and the Caterham team's – learning process with the new CT05.
“I can't wait to get back in the car, especially after having a really good race until the oil pressure problem forced us to stop in Australia,” the GP2 Series graduate insisted, “It's been great to read so many nice comments about what we did in the race after such a bad Friday, but now I want to get on with it again and go straight back to work.”
Round two of the season, at Sepang, will provide an altogether different challenge to that which Ericsson faced in Melbourne, with high temperatures and intense humidity putting extra strain on the still-fragile 2014-spec F1 cars, and a greater threat of rain to add to the mix as the drivers continue to get to grips with the high torque/low grip formula.
“It is one of the hardest events of the year for the power unit due to the long straights,” Renault Sport's Cedrik Staudohar confirmed, “The high air temperature is usually a concern as we have to choose the correct cooling level. The high chance of rain could also make the cars difficult to control due to the increased torque and lack of grip, so the focus will be on good driveability without too much wheelspin.
“Like Australia, managing fuel consumption in Sepang will be quite a challenge. Of the six main components of the power unit, the ICE will be under the most pressure in Sepang. In the past, the humidity has made Sepang a little bit easier on engines since power comes down as the water content in the air increases. With a turbo engine, however, the air intake is controlled at all times regardless of ambient conditions, so those two long straights will really start to hurt.”
While the team worries about the equipment, however, Ericsson has been hard at work to prepare himself for the challenge, which is matched only by the late-season visit to Singapore.
“Sepang's a track I've already raced on, so that's obviously an advantage over Australia,” he noted, “I really like the heat and have trained hard all through the winter to prepare for races like Malaysia, so I'll be 100 per cent ready physically.”
Like experienced team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, Ericsson lost valuable track time during the free practice sessions in Melbourne, but is optimistic that better fortunes early in the weekend will stand Caterham in good stead for its 'other' home race.
“We obviously need a stronger weekend on track overall, and I know they guys back at the factory and at Renault have been working flat out to help us do so,” the rookie noted, “Our race pace in Australia was pretty good but, with a full Friday and not having to use FP3 to catch up, I think we can start to unlock the real performance of this year's car. If we can do that, and with the work being put in by everyone, there's no reason why we shouldn't, I think Malaysia could be a strong weekend for our team.
“I'm still just loving being in F1 and for race two to be a home race for Caterham and on a track I know and like, that's just really good for me. It'll be great to see how much Caterham means to the Malaysian fans - I've been told the autograph session on Sunday will be one of the real highlights of the year!”