APRIL 1, 2011
Malaysia a better barometer, says Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton thinks that next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix will provide a better indication of respective 2011 car performance than Melbourne.
"Albert Park is a great track but a circuit like Sepang is where the differences between the cars will start to become clearer," Hamilton said. "I'm really looking forward to using KERS Hybrid and the DRS (Drag Reduction System) too - the rapid change of direction you experience when the car is really in the groove is phenomenal around Sepang and I think both systems will make the cars look sensational, especially in qualifying."
McLaren has looked into Hamilton's floor failure in the Australian race and discovered that the bond between the bib and the chassis was damaged. Team mate Jenson Button says that Sepang is a circuit where you need a very efficient car with some of the longer high-speed turns punishing any chassis lacking downforce.
That being the case, Red Bull's rivals might approach the Malaysian weekend with degree of trepidation given Red Bull's 2010 superiority at tracks such as Barcelona and Silverstone, which also reward efficiency.
In Malaysia, however, the picture is likely to be complicated by tyres, especially with the new Pirellis this year. McLaren team principal martin Whitmarsh explains: "Sepang is likely to showcase the performance of those cars with the best levels of grip and downforce, and which can best manage the tyres at what will be their hottest and toughest test so far.
"It goes without saying that Malaysia will be hot. It's not only a severe test of each car's cooling solutions, but with track temperatures expected to be between 20 and 30degC higher than anything else we've seen this year, tyre management will also be crucial. We don't think Melbourne showed us the best of our competitors' pace, so that only makes us more motivated to bring as much performance to the table as possible.
"On paper, it looks positive: we were pleased that our Melbourne upgrade worked as expected, and the car's performance around the high-speed elements of Albert Park suggests it will be able to cope around Sepang."