F1 preview: Mercedes target more joy in Malaysia

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton
  • Mercedes hot favourites again as F1 teams head to Malaysia
  • Team boss Toto Wolff refuses to get carried away
  • Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton on verge of signing new contract with Brackley team

The 2015 FIA F1 World Championship season continues this weekend when teams head to the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, with Brackley-based Mercedes looking to reaffirm their dominance over the rest of the field.

Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were a class apart in Australia’s season-opening race two weeks ago as the duo led Mercedes to a one-two finish in their W06-Hybrid cars.

Having dominated the entire 2014 season, it appears the Brackley team have picked up from where they left off this year, although team boss Toto Wolff is keen not to get carried away and says they must keep working hard to prevent their rivals from closing the gap.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race, Wolff said: “We are very pleased to have started the season so well.

“To score a one-two in the opening round was good. We know F1 is not predictable and so we have to keep pushing.

“The other teams will all be working hard to close the gap on us, and for that reason we will be aiming for another strong result this weekend.

“The other teams will all be working hard to close the gap on us, and for that reason we will be aiming for another strong result this weekend.”

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff

“We also managed a one-two finish at this track last year, with Lewis beating Nico, so I’m sure we’re in for another great spectacle this weekend.”

Defending world champion Hamilton is on the verge of signing a new contract with Mercedes. The 30-year-old, who is in the final season of his current three-year deal with the team, hopes it will be confirmed before Sunday’s race.

After a double points-scoring finish in Australia, Silverstone-based Sahara Force India are also hoping for a strong showing this week.

Sergio Perez, who finished 10th in Melbourne, said: “It will be good to score more points in Malaysia. This early time in the season is always difficult for many reasons.

“Our car appeared late, but it does show good promise. When we return to Europe we will be able to develop the car further and that will put us in a better position.”

The Bicester-based Scuderia Toro Rosso team started their 2015 season with their new driver, Carlos Sainz Jr. in the points, although there was disappointment for 17-year-old Max Verstappen, who was unable to finish on his F1 debut due to an engine problem.

Sainz said this week: “It was a good way to start my F1 career by finishing in the top 10. We believe we have a good car this season and both Max and I are hopeful of good performances this weekend.”

Practise takes place today, Friday, with qualifying tomorrow before the race starts at 8am on Sunday.