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Unpredictable Deluge:
The 2012 Malaysian Grand Prix

March 25, 2012 by Matt

2012 Malaysian GP Grand Prix Sepang Race Track Map Circuit Diagram Layout Schematic

The second round of the 2012 Formula 1 championship at Sepang in Malaysia was an eventful one, if only because of the weather.

Most of the kinks having been worked out of the new 2012 cars, qualifying was less a parade of second-stringers than in Melbourne a week ago. For the second straight week, Lewis Hamilton clinched the pole, flanked by his teammate Jenson Button for a solid McLaren front row. If this season seemed to be shaping up to be dominated by McLaren in the manner last year was owned by Red Bull, and specifically Sebastian Vettel (who qualified 6th this week), the actual race would debunk that notion.

Malaysia’s unpredictable weather not only meant the rain came and went within the span of half an hour, it also made some parts of the circuit relatively dry while others were practically flooded. The net result was that tire strategy and driving skill came to the fore like it had in few other F1 races in recent memory.

Cars switched continually between full wet tires and intermediates, some drivers opting for slower but safer full wets, and others electing to continue on the intermediates in the hopes the rain would subside and they would save themselves a pit stop. And after much shuffling of the field and a remarkably low number of retirements given the poor conditions, along with a full stop of the race when the downpour was at its most intense, Ferrari driver and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso emerged far ahead of the rest of the field, tailed only by rookie Sauber driver Sergio Perez. The latter put up a good fight against the faster Ferrari, but ran wide during an attempted overtaking maneuver late in the race and had to concede the win to Alonso.

I was pleased with the outcome. I like Ferrari’s quasi-underdog status this year, and Alonso is an excellent, solid driver whose talent has been proven in a number of different machines. It was a hard-earned win, and will hopefully inject some confidence (as if any were lacking) back into the Maranello team after a few seasons nipping at the heels of Red Bull and McLaren.

On an aesthetic note, I noticed something about the cars that had been built into their design since the beginning of the season, but I just now caught: Most of them are shovel-nosed, like so:

Ferrari 2012 Formula 1 F1 Race Car Red Type 056 56 Alonso Massa

Apparently, there was a regulation change that lowered the maximum height of the nose, but retained the max height of the structure supporting the driver, and as a result, most constructors have adopted a “stepped” nose design. It may be functional, but good gosh, can you say “Ugliest F1 cars ever?” They’re just terrible.

Filed under: Formula 1, Racing

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