This is the 15th running of the Malaysian Grand Prix (the 13th since it moved to the beginning of the calendar) so the teams are well used to the punishing heat and humidity of race as well as the regular rainstorms which occuer at this time of year.
Most weather forecasts for Sepang will show thunderstorms on all three days of the F1 weekend, plus many of the days before and after. But their hit-and-miss nature means it’s far from certain they’ll play a role in what happens on the circuit.
The storms tend to arrive around late afternoon and early evening, as one did today. They usually strike fast, deluging the track with water, but once they pass the high ambient temperature aids evaporation.
There have been several of examples of such rain showers in recent years: during last year’s race, qualifying in 2010 and a spectacular downpour in 2009.
On the latter occasion the start time had been moved back to 5pm, but owing to the downpour and the arrival of sunset soon afterwards, the race had to be abandoned.
A similar situation forced the postponement of qualifying in Australia last week. However following the 2009 debacle the start time for the Malaysian round was moved an hour forward. This year’s race starts at 4pm, with sunset at 7:23pm, which will give them some time to work with if a major storm arrives.
The conditions are expected to be fairly consistent across all three days, with temperatures above 30C and the ever-present threat of rain. The storms can arrive so quickly teams may not spot them on their radars.
Location of Sepang
The Sepang International Circuit is located just south of Kuala Lumpur and around 300km from Singapore, where the 13th round of the championship will be held in September.
See the location of every race on the 2013 F1 calendar here: