|This weekend it is the turn of the Sepang International Circuit in Malaya to host the GP2 teams and drivers. The last round of the 2016 GP2 Series saw both Racing Engineering drivers running at the front of the field with Norman Nato being uncatchable on his way to victory in the Sunday race and Jordan finishing fourth. With just two race weekends left in this season’s racing both the Driver and Team Championships are still undecided the team will be looking to have another positive race weekend and score plenty of points.
This year’s race will see some new challenges for the Racing Engineering team and below race engineer Alan Queillé explains how the team will be facing them. GP2 is back in Sepang after a two-year absence.
In 2013 Fabio Leimer won the feature race with Racing Engineering. Are you happy to get back to Malaysia?
We approach each event with the same preparation, independently of the results of the last time we raced there. But, for sure, it is great to be back in Sepang, it is a very nice track and the drivers generally love it. The Sepang International Circuit presents several flowing sections of high speed corners giving a nice challenge for drivers and engineers and especially as a lot has changed since 2013: the track surface is completely new, GP2 cars now have DRS, the tyre compounds are not the same, etc.
Both, Norman Nato and Jordan King, have never raced in Sepang before. How do you approach a race weekend given these special circumstances?
Even if both drivers have never raced in Sepang, we have the tools to give them as much track knowledge as we can before they actually drive there. Thanks to our driver simulator, they will arrive in Sepang having driven a good number of laps on it. They can experiment with the track, the driving techniques and racing lines to use in a representative way. We also provide them with analysis of the data of the previous seasons and video footage. If the overall method with which we prepare the event is basically similar to the other tracks, we maybe concentrate more on the pure driving aspect.
In the past Sepang was known for the abrasive nature of the track, but together with the new track surface what other factors make this circuit special and require you, as an engineer, to keep an eye on?
The new track surface is for sure a big change and could have a big influence on this event’s results. We will have to assess during the free practice the impact of this on the driving lines but also on the car behaviour, on pure performance and tyre degradation. Sepang was previously very abrasive, quite hard on the tyres. We will have to determine if this is still the case. Sepang is also special for the several sections of successive quick corners. This results in special attention to several aspect of the setup allowing the driver to keep his flow in these sequences.
With Jordan currently 5th and Norman in 6th position in the championship, what are your expectations for the upcoming weekend?
So far, we have been in position to fight for big points in every event this season. Our expectations are legitimately high as we want both our drivers to fight for the top 3 in the championship and for the team to keep its 2nd position in the Teams’ Championship, which we took back at the last event. This will require a good qualifying session to attack the races from good starting positions.