Ferrari Malaysian GP Preview

GP MALESIA F1/2016 – KUALA LUMPUR 30/09/2016

Like Singapore two weeks ago, the Malaysian Grand Prix sees a return to a scene of celebration last year for Ferrari in arguably their greatest race since 2013.

Last year Sebastian Vettel emulated his childhood hero Michael Schumacher and took his first Grand Prix victory for Ferrari, and comfortably ahead of Mercedes.

A lot can change in 18 months, however.

Since the 2015 race (held in March, not September) Ferrari have gone from optimism to pessimism, from challengers to a “failure” and from a team full of hope to a team full of despair.

Like last year, they have the pace to win races in 2016 and Vettel in particular has seen a potential tilt at a fifth World Drivers’ Championship dashed by technical problems, clashes with other drivers and strategic calamities putting paid to any chances of that.

Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen are both winless this season, and the former has to win all of the remaining races to match his 2015 points tally. And that simply will not happen.

Ferrari’s main strength even through the distrust at board level and the errors on the pitwall has been the ability to look after tyres, although they are still behind Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.

Had yet another mistake been avoided in Singapore, it might have landed 2007 World Champion Raikkonen with a podium around the Marina Bay circuit while Vettel’s Driver of the Day performance saw him climb from 22nd to fifth.

That will be key in the most physically demanding setting Formula One visits, despite the visit to Sepang now six months further into the season than had previously been the case.

Since the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix back in 1999, Ferrari have won it seven times through Vettel, Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine.

Vettel himself has won the race four times – three with Red Bull Racing, while Raikkonen took his first ever Formula One victory for McLaren back in 2003.

The omens are certainly looking good for the Scuderia, who have won the race four more times than any other team on the grid.

They will certainly need those omens to ring true if they are to have a strong weekend and get back in the running for second in the Constructors’ Championship.

Jack Prentice

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