Kuala Lumpur, 19 March – This weekend in Malaysia, Fernando Alonso will celebrate taking part in his 200th Formula 1 Grand Prix. This will put the Spaniard fourteenth on the all-time official list, behind Jean Alesi and Alain Prost, both on 202.
And what better place to celebrate this important milestone than the Sepang Circuit which holds great memories for Fernando and where he has had so many successes: in eleven races, the Ferrari man has won three times, finished four times on the podium, seven times in the top ten and secured two pole positions. His last win here was in fact in a Ferrari, at the wheel of the F2012 last year. It was a race that saw Alonso climb up the order from eighth place, thanks to a winning strategy from the Scuderia, combined with his skill in the wet.
After starting the season in fine style in Melbourne, Scuderia Ferrari will be back on track this Sunday for the start of the fifteenth Malaysian Grand Prix. The torrid heat and high humidity are always the main features of this weekend, affecting the cars, drivers and crew more than at any other venue. There are no particular updates from a technical point of view, as the team will try and adapt the F138 as well as possible to the Malaysian track, which is very different to the one in Albert Park. It will be particularly important to find the right compromise between aerodynamic downforce and top speed, given that the first and third sectors both feature a long straight, where the Ferraris will be able to count on a good top speed.
Malaysia will also provide an interesting test bed for the Pirelli tyres, with the Hard and Medium compounds being used, as the teams continue to work on understanding their behaviour. Temperatures will be much higher than in Australia and it will be important to push the tyres to their limits in Friday free practice to work out the best strategy for the race. Other unknowns? As usual, the weather will play its part. Constant changes and sudden storms have always been a feature at this venue. Maybe this year it will call a ceasefire…