In the mid 1990s, Malaysia was undergoing a huge change. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s Prime Minister was determined that by 2020, the country would be a fully industrialised nation. The best way to do this, it was thought, was through the auto trade.
The nation’s number one oil company, Petronas, began investing heavily in Formula One with Sauber, and Malaysia’s national car company, Proton, bought Lotus Engineering. The most extravagant part of the plan however was the building of a multimedia ‘supercorridor’, linking Kuala Lumpur’s new international airport with the capital city itself.
Mahathir ordered that a Grand Prix track be constructed too, and not just any track. He wanted to create a track that would be the envy of the world in terms of its facilities and technology. What he got was the Sepang International Circuit, and on its 1999 debut it did not disappoint.
Designed by Hermann Tilke, Sepang is one of the most technical circuits in Formula One. The combination of long high-speed straights, and tight twisting complexes make the track very complicated, but also perfect for overtaking as the track itself is very wide. The drivers love it and, along with Malaysia’s distinct atmosphere, it makes for an experience unique in Formula One.