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I made my 5th ‘annual pilgrimage’ to Sepang, Malaysia to witness the F1. Hats off to the Malaysian authorities for staging the 16th consecutive running of F1 in Malaysia – it becomes better each year.  I like the rules that are in force such as, if one gets caught in a “No Smoking” area, you end up in jail for a ‘cool’ two years! Though it poured ‘cats & dogs’ towards the end on Qualifying Day on Saturday, the Race Day itself had lovely sunny weather throughout the day, belonging to Malagamuwa & Hamilton!


Hamilton’s victory from pole position, the 23rd of his career, was capped with the fastest lap of the race clocked just three laps from the finish as rivals found no answer to the early season form of the Mercedes AMG-Petronas pair. It was also 2008 world champion Hamilton’s first ever Malaysian Grand Prix victory, after eight years of persistence. Hamilton dedicated the victory to victims of the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, whilst Malaysia was in mourning; a minute’s silence was held in honour of the victims before the start, dominated by Mercedes


44 – WHAT’S IN A NUMBER? Plenty, according to Lewis! So here are the tit-bits: The total of Lewis’s car numbers in his last seven seasons in F1: 2+22+1+2+3+4+10 = 44; Barack Obama is the 44th US President; The UK country phone code is +44; Interstate 44 runs Texas-Missouri; 44 Fours is a song by Jay-Z, in which he rhymes the words four, for and fore a total of 44 times;  Lewis Hamilton’s worst ever finish in F1 happened in his 44th race, the 2009 German GP in which he finished in 18th place; Ruthenium has an atomic number of 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the Platinum group and it has the chemical symbol Ru; when you replace a number by the sum of the squares of its digits, and repeat the process until eventually the answer equals 1, it’s called a ‘Happy Number’. And 44 is an example of a ‘Happy Number’ – it certainly appears for Lewis Hamiltion to be a lucky number too!

MERCEDES F1 RACING [and numbers]

Mercedes’ 100th Grand Prix start will take place at the 2014, Hungarian GP; 10 drivers have raced for Mercedes in F1, [quick get your F1 history books] namely, Juan Manuel Fangio; Karl Kling; Hans Herrmann; Hermann Lang; Stirling Moss; Andre Simon; Piero Taruffi; Michael Schumacher; Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. Two Drivers’ Titles were won by Juan Manuel Fangio – in 1954 and 1955; Ninety Nine WINS by Mercedes powered cars in Formula One; Five Teams other than Mercedes GP have used or are using Mercedes engines in F1: Sauber, McLaren, Force India, Brawn and Williams; 55 years after they last ran works cars in F1 Mercedes returned to the sport as an official constructor in 2010; Lewis Hamilton’s longest ever run of consecutive pole positions – 4 - set in 2013 with Mercedes. So contrary to doomsday preachers; unlike McLaren, Mercedes has been A1 for Lewis Hamilton – from Day One! My prediction: Mercedes will win the Constructor’s Title in 2014.


Mercedes leapfrogged Ferrari and McLaren to take second place in the constructors’ standing last year, and can theoretically go one better in 2014. The Brackley team is fast becoming a powerhouse of the sport. Their wealth of technical experience and expertise, [Geoff Willis, Aldo Costa and Bob Bell] allied with their new tech chief – Paddy Lowe – make Mercedes a formidable outfit and an early season favourite. In part, that’s also because Mercedes has two super-quick drivers in Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Their fight for superiority – finally the title – could produce fireworks!


It’s just possible that the Vettel/Red Bull steam roller might come to a halt in 2014. Despite a dominant 2013, in which the pair wrapped up yet another constructors’ and drivers’ double, the change in engine regulations might favour a team who have been able to assimilate their engines and chassis development under one roof, like Mercedes and Ferrari. Red Bull [RB] buys their engines off-the-shelf from Renault. In terms of drivers Vettel will be as strong as ever and yet, a great deal of attention, expectation surrounds the ever smiling, young Daniel Ricciardo [Motor’s friend] who joined the team in place of his departing fellow Australian Mark Webber. Will Daniel beat Sebastian? Or will RB’s design wizard Adrian Newey unlock a loophole no other team will find?


So far they have been playing catch up to Mercedes; yet its early days. After all Ferrari have the best F1 driver-line up on paper; the relationship between Alonso and Raikkonen will be one to follow as the season moves along. Privately, Fernando will not be happy at the decision to appoint Kimi as his team-mate. It’s an unprecedented decision for the Scuderia to run two ex-world champions, as in the past, the team’s policy has been to employ a subservient number two!


Both on Saturday 29th morning and on Race Day Sunday 30 March the fans were treated to [before F1] Porsche Carrera Cup Asia 2014 and the prestigious Malaysian Super Series, notably the GT Open / Sports Production Event where our very own Dilantha Malagamuwa in his ‘Dilango Racing’ - actually a souped-up Lamborghini pitted against Lotus’s, Holden V8s, Aston Martins, modified ‘Radical SR8’ – you name it – this event attracts the very best racing enthusiasts and professionals from around the globe. And yet on both days Dilantha Malagamuwa led from Pole to finish! When Sri Lanka’s National Anthem was played on two days running it was such a proud moment for the few Sri Lankans fortunate to witness such enthralling racing, courtesy Malagamuwa. Inexplicably Sri Lanka’s English Media – at least the most read dailies did not carry these superlative wins! Well it did weeks later, according to my wife in the female fashion & life style section usually read by ladies, the effete & wimps! Dilantha must be on the same pedestal as a Sanga or Mahela. After all – all of them share something in common – all are world class Sri Lankans!

Plan that journey well in time; have adequate rest; be cool and patient – it pays! Cheers! Dyan [dyans@sltnet.lk]