'Sepang will suit Sauber' - Hulkenberg
19 March 2013
Nico Hulkenberg might still be smarting from the bitter disappointment of not even making the start of last weekend's F1 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, but he's optimistic of better things in store for him and his Sauber team mate Esteban Gutierrez in the second race of the season in Malaysia.
"Compared to Melbourne, the track in Malaysia has different characteristics," he explained. "It's a fast track with long high-speed corners, which should suit our car well."
Sauber's head of track engineering, Tom McCullough, agreed with Hulkenberg's analysis and was able to elaborate further on what the team was expecting to face there.
“The Sepang circuit is a medium to high-speed one, and we look forward to seeing how the C32 performs there," he said. The circuit is technically challenging as there are also two long straights that require an efficient car and also several low-speed corners."
Sepang International Circuit will be a huge change in terms of the weather the drivers are expecting as well. After a lovely Friday in Melbourne, the F1 teams suffered a cool, windy, overcast and most of all wet weekend in Australia, but Malaysia will be very different - up to to a point.
"For the drivers Malaysia is always a challenge because of the high temperatures and the humidity," agreed Hulkenberg.
"The circuit's characteristics and typically high temperatures are also a real challenge for the tyres, which is why Pirelli will bring the medium and hard compounds," added McCullough.
However, the question of more rain is not so easily dismissed, with forecasts pointing towards unsettled and possibly very wet conditions for the upcoming race weekend.
"The weather can also play a significant part during the race weekend as late afternoon rain showers are common," said McCullough.
"There is always a chance of rain, which can be interesting, especially at the start of the race," contributed Hulkenberg, in something of a masterclass of understatement: a typical shower in Malaysia can make those that halted qualifying in Australia look like gentle spring drizzle.
On the other side of the Sauber garage, Esteban Gutierrez is also hoping that his second outing in F1 will be a stronger affair, now that he's over first night nerves and also heading to a track he's raced at before, rather than the unknown quantity that faced him at Albert Park.
"With the experience of an entire race in Melbourne, I can now look at where I can improve as a driver and where we can improve as a team," said Gutierrez. "Sepang is a good track, which I know from GP2. Now I'm looking forward to driving the track in a F1 car."
After ending the Australian Grand Prix without any points, the team was clear on its objectives for Sepang: top ten finishes for both cars on Sunday.
"Our target for the race is to finish with both cars in the points," confirmed McCullough.