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Sepang International Circuit

Formula 1 circuit

Sepang International Circuit
Credit: Mercedes
Vital statistics for Sepang International Circuit
CircuitSepang International Circuit
Race debut1999
Results for the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix
Pole positionLewis Hamilton
Race winnerMax Verstappen
Fastest lapSebastian Vettel

Just outside of Kuala Lumpur, the Sepang circuit offers a unique challenge to drivers. The Hermann Tilke designed track begins with a long straight the curves into a twisting first section, and it ends with a similar long straight that ends in a tight hairpin. Between the two are sweeping corners, with just a few tight turns to raise the difficulty level. Throw into that the high humidity and potential for torrential rain, and it's a difficult stop on the calendar.

F1 history

Following swiftly on from the excitement of the first round, drivers head straight to the challenging conditions of Malaysia. The Sepang track offers up a tricky circuit, along with soaring temperatures and high humidity, to give racers their first real taste of the endurance side of Formula One.

Two hours in the cockpit of an F1 car around the sticky Sepang track can leave drivers drained and losing bodyweight by the time they climb out at the end. Add in the concentration required as well, and you’ve got a real test of each driver’s ability, at a very early point in the season.

The weather doesn’t just offer up heat and humidity, but there’s always the possibility of a downpour. The daily rainstorms have been known to stop the racing, with red flags being seen and half points being awarded. The timing of the race was pushed back to early evening to accommodate European audiences, but that puts the sessions right in the path of any incoming rain storms.

The track itself is wide, offering up many overtaking opportunities around it’s 5.5 kilometres. There are sweeping corners and a couple of very long straights, ending abruptly in those tricky hairpins. There are some nice elevation changes around the track, and plenty of good spots for the fans to view from. Grandstands line the track, particularly at the final corner - a long and tricky hairpin, from which a good exit is crucial to cross the line in style.

With cooling a significant issue in Malaysia, set up for the car also needs to take into consideration high downforce for the tighter sections of the track - it’s full throttle around Sepang for only 65% of a lap. Brake wear can also be heavy, due to the high speeds, long straights, and of course, the difficult conditions.

Ahead of the 2016 season, the revised calendar saw the Malaysian Grand Prix move towards the end of the year, with organisers hoping to avoid the annual disruption from rain delays.

Learn more about Sepang with the Pocket F1 Handbook.