From the land down under to the country of two halves; the next stop on our epic voyage is Malaysia. Separated in two by the South China Sea, this is a nation renowned for its diverse culture and stunning scenery.
After the long haul to Australia, a mere 7 hour flight across to Kuala Lumpur seemed relatively tame by comparison. Back-to-back races, particularly those in the far reaches of the globe, require an enormous effort from the teams and it was no surprise to see more than a few of the world’s finest motorsport employees catching up on some sleep during the flight.
Despite some minor hitches, including a 3 hour delay to take off and a slight underestimation of space requirements by the coach transfer service (there may have been a few suitcases stacked in the doorway and aisles of one particular vehicle, but for health and safety reasons let’s say not…) the team arrived unscathed at what can only described as one of the most unique hotels on the planet.
Moving out past the thousands of lights and giant statues depicting scenes from the jungle which adorn the hotel entrance (no, we haven’t accidentally stumbled into a Disney film), the local area is buzzing with the sights, sounds and smells of a multicultural and highly welcoming city.
A blend of Malay, Indian and Chinese inhabitants to name but a few who make up this diverse nation provide not just a warm welcome, but a fantastic range of culinary experiences – something some of the more seasoned team members were instantly keen to be re-acquainted with.
After a late arrival, waking up in an air-conditioned hotel it seems that all is well in the world – until the time comes to step outside. Ignoring the tropical showers that typically arrive mid-afternoon on most days, the heat and humidity here must be experienced to be believed. Best to bring at least 2 shirts a day to avoid ending the week with a hefty laundry bill!
Depending on responsibilities (some in this case being more fortunate that others!) Tuesday has been spent either down at the track beginning the set-up of team facilities for the week, or catching up on some rest and relaxation around the hotel and local markets before the weekend’s events begin.
The schedule for Wednesday is much the same, but with an emphasis on preparing the cars for their first fire-up the following day. Thursday itself is where events start to kick on, with drivers and team management making various media appearances, and the mechanics putting the finishing touches to the E20s in preparation for their first runs on Friday.
Of course, the weekend will take its regular format: Free Practice 1 & 2 on Friday, Free Practice 3 and Qualifying on Saturday, and of course the main event – race day – on the Sunday before the team packs up to head home to Enstone.
A busy schedule awaits as always, and with such a short timescale between the first two races there is a lot to be said for the dedication of the men and women who make up the Formula 1 circus – particularly with temperatures averaging in the 30s and humidity in the 80s at this time of year in Malaysia.