Kuala Lumpur’s Sepang International Circuit was first in the spate of modern tracks in emerging markets for Formula One. The likes of Bahrain, China, Singapore, South Korea and India would later follow, but Hermann Tilke’s first foray into Asia set a new standard and lay pressure to modernise on the historic European circuits.
One feature the more traditional venues could not apply is the tropical Malaysian climate, which has unleashed spectacular downpours on Formula One sessions over the last 15 years.
Williams’ only victory at Sepang came in 2002 with Ralf Schumacher leading home team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya in a 1-2.
Malaysia is another very difficult race in the calendar because of how hot and humid it is. It rains there almost every day, and when it rains it’s normally torrential so it covers the whole track.
The race is just so dependent on the weather, but Felipe Massa is really hoping that they can do well here and have a good result. He finished sixth here last year, so he is hoping that he can perform even better in what will be the final Malaysian Grand Prix of his career….
Felipe, you made the announcement in Monza about your retirement at the end of this season, it’ll be your 250th grand prix in Abu Dhabi. Do you now arrive at these grands prix between now and the end of the season with a slightly different mindset? Are you determined to enjoy every experience, to take the most out of every grand prix?
Yes, definitely! I’ll just enjoy massively doing what I’m doing – since I always did in my life. In a way you can say I have less pressure now – but we do have a lot of pressure with this fight with Force India. I just want to give everything I can to finish well, to get the fourth place in the Championship and enjoy every race, enjoy every moment. I’m still really happy with my decisions so I’m sure there’s a lot to do in life for this second step so, as Jenson was saying before, it’s a really long career, so even if we are pretty young… y’know you stop pretty young, he’s 36, I’m 35 and you’re like, retired! That’s why there’s still a lot of things to do in life. I’m really ready for that and happy. I’ll have a little bit more time at home as well. So, yeah, just thinking… so many things for the future and enjoying every race, every moment in different countries, different places. Really it’s fantastic to see all the support from the fans. From everybody around the sport. Enjoying the moment.
Felipe, the calendar for next season came out with an asterisk next to Brazil saying it’s to be confirmed. Are you disappointed with the state of things in Brazil and how confident are you that it will stay on the calendar?
Well, to be honest, I think it’s very difficult to answer in a proper way. We are just racing and we don’t know what’s happened behind (the scenes) with the contracts. Sometimes you just see some pressures over a country because maybe something’s not working like Bernie - or who decides - is thinking. We know that you always have pressures around. It’s not nice, definitely. Brazil is part of this sport, it’s part of Formula One since a very long time so it would be really disappointing to lose a race in Brazil even if I will not be there. But I will be supporting my country for new Brazilian drivers, so I know the situation in Brazil is not really easy for the moment economically, so this is maybe some fact around this. But you never know, maybe this is just some pressure but maybe this can happen as we saw it happened last year in Germany. I hope it will not happen to Sao Paulo, Interlagos. It’s also one of the most fun and great races to watch so I hope the best for them, for my country, for Brazil and I hope these guys will still enjoy their race in Brazil.
What is your best Sepang memory?
Well, actually I always love this place, the circuit, the layout. I never won but I twice started on pole position, 2007, 2008. I will keep those memories but I was never on the podium here. Amazing. But I really love the circuit. I’ve had some great races, even if I wasn’t on the podium. Hope this one will be a better one.
Is that scoring ratio causing concerns internally at Williams and how are you addressing it?
It’s definitely a big fight. So they are doing a very good championship. I think they improved the car a lot during the season. I believe we can fight them to the end and I believe maybe we can finish in front of them. But you don’t know. You will count race to race the amount of points we are doing compared to them, so I would say some of the tracks you have now are a bit better than some of the tracks we did, like maybe Singapore, the road tracks where they really have a very quick and competitive car. The circuits now are a little bit better for us, but the fight will be race by race and I hope we can do it.