Sepang Circuit bears witness to many eventful Formula One races


Sparks fly: Red Bull Racing duo Sebastian Vettel (right) and Mark Webber on the podium at the 2013 Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.

MEMORIES OF THE MALAYSIAN GP 

THE 2012 Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix was won by Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.

It was an eventful event as the race was halted temporarily by rain and there was a fire at the Lotus team’s hospitality suite and operations centre.

No one was hurt but a spare helmet of driver Kimi Raikkonen was destroyed. The fire was later traced to an electrical fault in the fridge.

The following year’s race was enveloped in controversy when Sebastian Vettel disobeyed team orders to pass Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber to secure the win.

In the closing stages of the race, Australian Webber was seen giving Vettel the “finger” on the main straight.

A similar controversy also occurred with Mercedes when the faster Nico Rosberg was told not to pass Lewis Hamilton, who eventually went on to finish third.

“I made a mistake, I am not proud that I made it. If I had the chance to do it again, I would do it differently but it doesn’t count now,” said Vettel at the post-race press conference.

But it mattered little to Webber, who was sitting alongside the German.

“In the end Seb made his own decisions today and will have protection (from the team). That’s the way it goes,” said the seething Australian.

It was a challenging time for the Malaysian organisers in 2014. The race, held on the last week of March, was overshadowed by the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 8.

All the 22 drivers showed a mark of respect with a minute’s silence and carried messages on their cars and helmets.

Mercedes scored a one-two with Hamilton winning ahead of Rosberg. Vettel claimed the last podium spot for Red Bull Racing.

It was also the start of Mercedes’ dominance as Vettel failed to defend his world title at the end of the season.

The race was moved from its March date to October last year to allow the organisers — the Sepang International Circuit – to upgrade the circuit.

The track was resurfaced and the drainage was improved to decrease the possibility of standing water from forming on the circuit.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull Racing claimed his fourth career win after pole-sitter Hamilton’s engine blew up with 16 laps to go.

But this time the controversy was off the track. Nine Australian men – dubbed the “Budgie Nine” — were arrested for celebrating Ricciardo’s win in just their swimming trunks with the Malaysian flag design. The Australians, however, got off lightly as the Sepang Sessions Court discharged them with only a caution.

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