Cosworth's Guide to the Malaysian Grand Prix
The third round of this season's FIA Formula One World Championship will take place at the Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this coming weekend.
Malaysian Grand Prix: An Engine's Perspective
are two main tests for the engine around the demanding Sepang International Circuit: the track and the weather conditions.
The most notable circuit characteristics are the two long straights, interlinked by a tight hairpin, that form the end of one lap and start of the next. Each straight is close to 1km in length and allows drivers to really open the throttle for an extended period of time. Outright power down the back straight and good stability under braking can allow drivers to use the width of the track to overtake heading through the final corner of the lap. However, plenty of torque and grip are needed to make the pass "stick" as the cars head back up the main start-finish straight. A quick lap time also relies on the engine delivering effective acceleration on the exits to turns 4 and 9 in order to build up speed quickly through the medium corners that follow.
The second big test for both man and machine is the oppressive heat and humidity that is typical of the Malaysian climate. As Cosworth's on-track support teams are placed in almost saunalike working conditions, the CA2010 engine will too have to cope with the higher ambient and track temperatures which negate cooling. The extreme humidity compromises available power in the normally aspirated engine but somewhat lessens the challenge in terms of fuel economy, an important factor for the long race distance.
The later starting time for last year's event saw drivers and teams face a torrential monsoon downpour which ended the 56-lap race early. A slightly earlier start time for this year's race may not alleviate the risk of a downpour entirely, but wet weather conditions, even in hot temperatures, would place the engine under fewer demands."
- At over 310km, the Malaysian GP is the longest race distance of the season
- The Sepang International Circuit is the second closest track to the equator just above Singapore, hence the prevalence of hot and humid weather conditions
- Around 25% of the Sepang circuit is comprised by the two long straights at the end of and start of the lap