I I have to admit: I'm really lucky with mine seven races that I supervised on site for auto motor und sport in 2016. In principle, I don't see a bore. And Mercedes doesn't always win. Not that I grudge them success. Mercedes has simply done the best job since the beginning of the hybrid era. Because the technical team is simply good, and in my opinion there is no better one. Because the structures have grown and not everything is called into question after a failure, as with Ferrari. Just think back to the time when tire management looked like a book with seven seals to the Mercedes engineers. Today nobody has the black reels as well under control as the silver ones. And the two drivers is the best pair of drivers in the field.
Hamilton and the conspiracy theories
Lewis Hamilton is in a class of its own in Malaysia. Up to the 40th lap of the race, he controls the action from pole position. The lead over the Red Bull duo around Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen is over 20 seconds. Then the world champion speeds down the home straight. 'That sounds like engine failure,' calls Michael Schmidt around. Everyone is listening. Suddenly the car with the starting number 44 appears on the monitors. The Silver Arrow is smoking. The silver arrow burns. From the dream of victory. From the dream of the world title?
The excitement is great. Disappointment is written on Hamilton's face. First he kneels in the run-off zone. This should later result in some funny photo montages á la Fernando Alonso and Brazil 2015. Hamilton later dictated into the microphones: “There are eight drivers with Mercedes engines on the track, but only mine ever break. Someone here doesn't want me to win. ”A conspiracy against the world champion? Hamilton later rowed back when he realized the scope of his statements and that they could be misunderstood. 'With my sentence I meant higher powers.'
Red Bull laughs its sleeve. The cops dust off again when Mercedes fails. Like in Spain. As so often this season, Ferrari is signed off. The duel for second place is suddenly a duel for victory after the Hamilton defect. Ricciardo decides for himself. Both pilots treat each other with respect on a spectacular parallel drive between turns four and eight. Rosberg boxes himself on the podium from behind. At the start he was torpedoed by Sebastian Vettelbeen. Later, Rosberg squeezed his way past Kimi Raikkonen with all his might and Rambo insert in the second corner. Despite a penalty, it is enough for 15 important championship points.
Magnussen's Renault in flames
The sport does not only produce drama in the race itself. After seven minutes, Kevin Magnussen's Renault R.S. 16 catches fire in the first free practice. The Renault mechanics don't get the fire out. The gasoline gushes out of the airbox, the mixture ignites again and again, nourished by oxygen. Finally, Magnussen's company car is completely shampooed with white foam.
Child prodigy Max Verstappen is not only celebrating his fifth podium of his F1 career, but also his 19th birthday in Malaysia. Five Malaysian women give him a birthday cake before the first training session. Did he nibble a bit before getting into the car? When we leave the paddock in the evening, Verstappen runs into us and we congratulate him on the 19th day before we caught Sebastian Vettel on the way off the track. The Heppenheimer didn't celebrate a birthday, but Ferrari still got a nice toy for the days in Malaysia: a Ferrari 488 GTB. The four-time world champion did not allow himself to be chauffeured, but sat behind the wheel of the 670 hp sports car himself.
Our rental car is not quite as powerful: a Proton Saga FLX. Sometimes there are five of us in the small limousine. Always at the wheel: Michael Schmidt. In addition, Roger Benoit enjoys his obligatory cigar from Schweizer Blick, who has already had over 700 races under his belt. And ashes us behind. The Proton doesn't exactly have the most passenger-friendly landing gear on earth. After bumps in the road it rebounds so vehemently that your head hits the headliner if you don't consciously steer against it. The way from the hotel to the race track and vice versa is pretty boring. The majority leads via the motorway. There is only one job that appeals to us. After a toll station there is a smooth left curve that is banked like a banked curve.
A street bar across from our hotel in Subang Yaya, the second largest city after Kuala Lumpur, takes care of our well-being. There is chicken with rice - called Nasi Goreng Chicken. We also treat ourselves to naan bread. These are thin dough cakes made from yeast dough leavened with yogurt - really tasty and inexpensive with a dip. Even fuel is not expensive in Malaysia. We pay around 50 ringgit for a three-quarter tank. That's around ten euros.
Credit card cracked
I have to be careful. Someone pulled out my credit card details. I get a first suspicion from a bizarre SMS. When I get home, I fish mail from my bank out of the mailbox. It is confirmation that someone has borrowed from my card. Fortunately, my bank was paying attention.
On the Monday after the race I want toactually sleep in. But by eight o'clock I'm wide awake. So get to work, write a few more texts and tap together picture galleries. In the afternoon I did my debts and enjoy the hours of sunshine by the pool. In the evening we are drawn to an Indian restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. The problem: where the restaurant used to be, there is now a large construction site. There is nothing about it on the Internet. Our driver is in a fix. We also. Without our intervention, Schmidt and I can enjoy a city tour through Downtown KL. After more than half an hour we finally find the Indian. Our driver had called the restaurant. It's now in a large department store downtown.
What else did I remember? Sure, the McLaren motorhome. The team redesigned it into an English pub for Jenson Button. Including dart board and table football. The 2009 world champion deserved it. He celebrated his 300th race in Formula 1 in Sepang. His colleagues also stopped by to celebrate and congratulate Button.
In the gallery you can find some personal impressions of auto motor und sport Reporter from what happened behind the curtains.