Fighting talk from Red Bull’s opponents won’t be enough in Malaysia

Posted on April 6, 2011

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Formula One’s leading teams are making fighting talk ahead of the hot and humid race in Malaysia but everyone should expect Red Bull to still be out in front.

Red Bull look set to be leading the pack into the first corner at Malaysia for the second year in a row. Credit: Red Bull/Getty

The world champions say they may install the KERS device for the qualifying and race sessions this weekend and the raw pace of the RB7 will likely make them unbeatable.

It’s pretty clear Red Bull will build themselves a handy lead in the early stages of this season. The teams will all bring some upgrades to the early races but they’ll all be looking to the visit to Barcelona in late May for major upgrade packages.

Both McLaren and Ferrari have conceded they are behind their faster rivals – albeit with pledges to catch up quickly. And they need to keep an eye on their rear wings, with Mercedes and Renault not far behind.

It will be shame if Adrian Newey’s car can’t be reigned in by the others and they have the title sewn up by late summer. But it’s a real threat: he’s built Sebastian Vettel a fearsome machine and the development rate will be relentless this year.

There should also be interest down the field. Hispania insist they can qualify with no issues now the new front wing has passed its crash tests and can be used. The performance in Australia remains disturbing but if they are right, and are ahead of the Virgins, it would be an interesting development.

Team Lotus will be hoping to show up with the promising testing pace back on track and be looking to race with the Force India cars.

We should learn a lot this weekend. Malaysia is a conventional race track, with a couple of long straights, sweeping bends and high temperatures. It is the first time we’ll see the Pirelli tyres in hot temperatures and there are suggestions some teams may have to make four stops.

Chances are we’ll also see the wet Pirelli tyres in anger for the first time: it always rains in Malaysia, often torrentially.

Whether the very high tyre degredation proves to be the case remains to be seen: Sauber and Sergio Perez proved in Australia the tyres can be pretty durable. But it’s certainly unpredictable.

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