Good old mem­o­ries

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Star Special -

1999

DE­SIGNED by Her­mann Tilke, the state-ofthe-art Sepang In­ter­na­tional Cir­cuit hosted its first For­mula 1 race on Oct 17, 1999. Malaysia thus be­came the se­cond Asian coun­try af­ter Ja­pan to host an F1 race. The race cap­tured world­wide at­ten­tion as it saw the re­turn of Ger­man Michael Schu­macher for Fer­rari af­ter he broke his leg ear­lier in the sea­son.

It turned out to be a con­tro­ver­sial race as Schu­macher slowed down twice, block­ing McLaren’s Mika Hakki­nen and David Coulthard to al­low Fer­rari team­mate Ed­die Irvine to take the che­quered flag.

The drama did not end there as the race re­sults were over­turned. The two Fer­raris were dis­qual­i­fied for an in­fringe­ment in their cars’ barge boards. Hakki­nen was de­clared the win­ner. Fer­rari ap­pealed against the de­ci­sion in court and their 1-2 fin­ish was re­in­stated. Hakki­nen, how­ever, went on to win the world ti­tle at the end of the sea­son.

2000

IT WAS the only time Malaysia hosted the fi­nal race of the sea­son. Fer­rari’s Michael Schu­macher had the hon­our of win­ning from pole po­si­tion as McLaren’s de­fend­ing world champion Mika Hakki­nen was pe­nalised for a jump start.

Ear­lier, Schu­macher had wrapped up the world driv­ers’ ti­tle at the penul­ti­mate round in Suzuka, Ja­pan. But it was still party time for Fer­rari as they clinched the con­struc­tors’ ti­tle at Sepang. The Pranc­ing Horse crew and per­son­nel all donned red wigs pro­vided by the cir­cuit staff to cel­e­brate their tri­umph. It was a treat for the 88,000 at the race.

It was also the fi­nal race for English­man Johnny Her­bert, who drove for JaguarCos­worth. Her­bert’s 160th race, how­ever, ended in dis­ap­point­ment. He re­tired af­ter crash­ing his car fol­low­ing a sus­pen­sion fail­ure.

2003

FINN Kimi Raikko­nen showed his prow­ess by bag­ging his first F1 win in Malaysia. Fer­nando Alonso of Re­nault grabbed his first pole in Malaysia, but the 22-year-old Raikko­nen was the man of the race. He started sev­enth on the grid, but drove like a vet­eran to fin­ish nearly 40 sec­onds ahead of se­cond-placed Rubens Bar­richello of Fer­rari.

“Even if I never win again, I’ve had this day,” en­thused Raikko­nen.

It was a start to a suc­cess­ful ca­reer for Raikko­nen as he went on to win the world ti­tle in 2007.

2005

FER­NANDO Alonso se­cured his first win in Malaysia. It was also his first tri­umph of the sea­son.

Start­ing from pole po­si­tion, the Spa­niard fin­ished the race 20 sec­onds ahead of Ital­ian Jarno Trulli. Alonso went on to become the first-ever Spa­niard to lead the world cham­pi­onship be­fore even­tu­ally be­ing crowned champion at the end of the sea­son.

Trulli had no rea­son to be dis­ap­pointed as his se­cond plac­ing was Toy­ota’s first-ever podium fin­ish in F1. Ger­man Nick Hei­d­feld, driv­ing for Wil­liams, was third.

It was a dis­ap­point­ing out­ing for Fer­rari as their re­mark­able run of 22 con­sec­u­tive podium fin­ishes – which started at the 2003 Ital­ian Grand Prix — came to an end at Sepang. The race also marked Rubens Bar­richello’s 200th grand prix for Fer­rari.

2009

THUN­DER­STORM caused the sched­uled 56-lap race to be stopped af­ter 31 laps. Brawn’s Jen­son But­ton, who started from pole po­si­tion, was de­clared the win­ner. As the race did not reach the re­quired 75% dis­tance as per reg­u­la­tions or 42 laps, only half points were awarded to the top eight fin­ish­ers.

But­ton’s vic­tory in Malaysia and the Aus­tralian Grand Prix also made Brawn the first team since Alfa Romeo in 1950 to win the open­ing two grands prix of the sea­son.

Bri­ton But­ton went on to become the world champion for the first time.

2011

REIGN­ING world champion Se­bas­tian Vet­tel again emerged tri­umphant for Red Bul­lRe­nault

af­ter start­ing from pole po­si­tion.

Jen­son But­ton fin­ished se­cond in a McLaren while Nick Hei­d­feld com­pleted the podium for Re­nault in third place. Vet­tel went on to re­tain his world ti­tle.

Spec­ta­tors con­tinue to flock the cir­cuit – with more than 100,000 turn­ing up.

The cir­cuit too con­tin­ued to evolve – pro­vid­ing en­ter­tain­ment, in­clud­ing the Ad­ven­ture Zone that has fly­ing fox, bumper orb and wall climbing, and a mo­bile pool for the wa­ter zorb­ing ac­tiv­ity.

There was also a free pit walk­a­bout for school­child­ren, while the post-race con­cert fea­tured South Korean heart­throb Rain.

Great job: The Fer­rari crew cheer­ing for Ed­die Irvine af­ter he crossed the fin­ish line at the 1999 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix. — AP

Party time: Michael Schu­macher, wear­ing a wig pro­vided by SIC staff, cel­e­brat­ing his Malaysian Open win in 2000. — DIG­I­TAL IM­AGE

Wet: Heavy rain caused the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2009 to be stopped af­ter 31 laps.

I’m No. 1: Se­bas­tian Vet­tel emerged tri­umphant for Red Bull af­ter start­ing from pole po­si­tion in the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix. — AP

Sepang de­light: Brawn driver Jen­son But­ton of Bri­tain pump­ing his fist in de­light af­ter grab­bing pole for the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix. He went on to win the race as well the world ti­tle at the end of the sea­son. — AP

Class act: Spa­niard Fer­nando Alonso ac­knowl­edg­ing the cheers from the crowd af­ter win­ning the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix.

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