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Should Sepang International Circuit Return to the F1 Calendar?

Written by Alrissa Mariam, Edited by Jacob Awcock


The Sepang International Circuit, now known as Petronas Sepang International Circuit after signing a deal with Petronas, is a race track located in Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia; approximately 45 KM south of the capital, Kuala Lumpur.


Sepang International Circuit; Credit; The Malaysian Reserve

Sepang International Circuit (SIC) has hosted Formula 1 Grand Prix between 1999 to 2017 and is still the venue for the Malaysian MotoGP. The circuit was designed by German designer Hermann Tilke, who also designed other circuits like Shanghai, Sakhir, Istanbul, Marina Bay and Yas Marina.


The Sepang circuit is known for its unpredictable, humid and tropical weather due to the Malaysian climate. It could be a hot sunny day during Q1 and suddenly there will be pouring rain during Q2.


With a circuit length of 5.543KM, 2 Drag Reduction System zones (DRS) and 15 turns, this track is known for its sweeping corners and wide straights as well as a 0.927KM long back straight, separated from the pit straight by just one very tight hairpin, giving plenty of room for overtaking.


The last fastest lap record set at Sepang International Circuit was by Sebastian Vettel during the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix in his Ferrari SF70H. He set a record of 1:34.080 while on course to finish in fourth place, having started the race at the back of the grid.


Sepang International Circuit track layout; Credit - Reddit

The track starts with a long pit straight, a perfect DRS zone, which is crucial for the drivers. Turn 1 is a very long and slow corner, leading straight into Turn 2 at the tight left hairpin which goes downhill quite significantly.


Turn 3 is a long, flat out right hander that leads into Turn 4–known locally as the Langkawi Curve. Turn 5 and 6 make up a long, medium-speed, double-apex right hander and one wrong bump can cause the car to lose balance. 


Turn 9 is a very slow lefthand hairpin–known locally as the Berjaya Tioman Corner; similar to Turn 2 but uphill. Turn 10 leads into a challenging, medium speed righthander that flows straight into Turn 11. Turn 12 is a flat-out and bumpy left which leads into the flat right at Turn 13 right away before the ‘Sunway Lagoon’ Curve at Turn 14. 


The long back straight is a good place for overtaking as they brake hard into a lefthander hairpin at Turn 15 but drivers should be careful not to get re-overtaken as they approach Turn 1. 


Of course, Malaysians love having F1 in their country–especially with Lewis Hamilton being the F1 hero for them as he carries their home brand, Petronas, on him at all times. Often, when F1 is being brought up in conversation anywhere in Malaysia, the locals would immediately think of Lewis Hamilton and his iconic Mercedes team.


Lewis Hamilton in Malaysia during the announcement of Petronas extended partnership with Mercedes; Credit - Azim Rahman/The Vibes Malaysia

The seven-time World Champion has said that he misses racing at the iconic track since the last race back in 2017. He claimed his second podium finish back in 2007 at the SIC and said that it would be “fantastic” to be able to experience the track again but in current F1 cars.


The reason for the Malaysian Grand Prix being pulled from the F1 calendar was due to the rising cost of hosting the event and drastically declining ticket sales.


There has been talk about getting the SIC back into the F1 calendar some time soon, in about two to three years from now, as the government has been focusing more on rebuilding the economy following the Covid-19 Pandemic.


In my opinion, there could be a chance that once the Malaysian Grand Prix returns to the F1 calendar, it would be a complete turn around from the last GP held here in 2017 and be full of fans as F1 now has been more popular than ever thanks to social media.


The continuous rise in awareness of the sport and the welcoming of females and new generations has sparked interest in many individuals who only knew F1 as a sport that had ‘really fast cars’ and now understood more of the sport and how it works.


Current F1 cars on the Sepang circuit would be phenomenal to see; watching the Red Bulls battling it out with the Mercedes and Scuderia Ferraris while the McLarens hunt them down, all while the grandstands go crazy at Turn 15 where the iconic umbrella shade that is shaped like the National Flower of Malaysia is located. 


Sepang’s Iconic Umbrella Shade at Turn 15; Credit; sepangcircuit.com

What do you think? Do you think the Sepang International Circuit deserves to return to the F1 calendar?


3 comments

3 comentários


Convidado:
23 de jan.

Very informative 👏 congrats on your first article🥳🥳

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Zee Yeoh
Zee Yeoh
23 de jan.

Yes, it should. Sepang deserve to be on F1. Was waiting for someone to speak abt it 😭

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Convidado:
23 de jan.

Good article

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