Sepang International Circuit CEO Razlan Razali says the resurfacing work completed on the track earlier this year has changed its complexion and challenge which gives it an all-new feel.
The Malaysian track, which hosts the 16th round of the 2016 F1 World Championship this weekend, has undergone extensive resurfacing with significant modifications made to nine sections of the circuit.
Circuit design company Dromo has overseen the resurfacing of the track as well as banking and levelling alterations made to turns 1-9 and 13-15 with the final corner undergoing to biggest changes. Turn 15 has seen the new inside kerb raised by 1 metre in order to stop rain water collecting on track which is assisted by improved drainage.
“To remove the water we have made a big camber change on the inside of the corner,” Head of Dromo Jarno Zaffelli told Crash in May. “There is now a 1m height difference from the old kerb compared to the new kerb. And to make it more interesting and challenging for the riders, the whole corner also rises towards the exit, like going uphill.”
With the work completed in late April F1 will make its first return to the Malaysian circuit for 18 months after its switch in the race calendar and Sepang International Circuit CEO Razali is intrigued to see how the changes challenge the drivers.
"There will be some unknowns for the teams and drivers as we've changed the dynamics of the circuit a little bit at the various turns,” Razali said. “It will be as if they've come to Sepang circuit for the first time.”
FIA F1 race director Charlie Whiting has given his seal of approval to the changes and resurfacing at Sepang while Zaffelli feels the set-up teams will require greater demands on grip from the Pirelli tyres.
"Upgrading a magnificent racetrack like that is never easy, only drivers will tell us the outcome," Zaffelli said. "We put our best efforts to use our design skills to improve the show, without touching the original layout. The last corner modification is the best example. Raising up the internal curb of 1 metre, the classic racing line is not anymore the fastest, and this will add spice for the drivers. Now it will allow amazing overtaking manoeuvres due to the particular profile."
"The full track will be different on tires now. Almost all corners will be more demanding in terms of vertical load while the last corner will do the opposite, with his reverse camber and low speed, the grip will rely mainly on the tires." - crash