IT’S all systems go as Sepang International Circuit enters its final lap of preparations with the Formula One PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix only 3 days away.
With only 72 hours to go before the official start on Friday, preparations for the track have undergone the final stage to enable all remedial work to be completed.
The track was officially closed three weeks ago to commence all set up work, with track personnel responsible for repairing the kerbs and beautifying the areas around the track.
Track personnel will also be responsible in identifying all problems and subsequently all repair work will be done according to the specifications of the motorsports governing body, Federation Internationale de L’Automobile (FIA).
Everyone at SIC have been on their toes, working all day long to ensure that the track fulfils all the requirements set by FIA during the official scrutineering this Thursday.
The pride and joy of of SIC – the new Team Hospitality – is up and running and will be receiving its first batch of occupants today (Tuesday, 20th March) as the teams fly from Melbourne to Sepang for the second race of the F1 calendar.
Having shaken of the hangover of the long break, fans can expect competing teams and drivers coming to Sepang better prepared; having shaken off their opening race jittery in Melbourne and getting used to the capabilities of their machines.
Unlike the tight street circuit in Melbourne, fans can expect to see the cars and drivers pushing to their maximum capacity and to the limit as the drivers take full advantage of the smooth ultra-modern race track; and braving passing maneuvers with the wide track and spacious run-off areas.
Emphasizing the need to enhance the safety of the drivers, the Malaysian Formula One Medical Services (F1 MS) members have been training hard to prepare themselves for any eventualities during Race Day (Sunday, 25th March).
Headed by F1 MS Chief Medical Officer Major General Datuk Dr Mohd Zin Bidin said the Malaysian F1 Medical Services, operated by the Malaysian Armed Forces, was the only F1 medical service run by the military.
"When F1 machines travelling at 300km per hour collide, the result is much like an aircraft crash. It can be quite catastrophic, with flying debris and possible explosions causing numerous injuries to the drivers and the spectators and that's why the circuit needs the complete medical services,” explained Dr Mohd Zin.
Dr Mohd Zin sheds some light on the workings of the F1Medical Services which have gained in prominence due to the increasing risks of danger posed by motorsports.
“Basically the medical coverage consists of track medical services – riders, pit crew and marshals and the public medical service,
“For the track medical service, we will be here at the track medical centre from 20th March until race day.
“Meanwhile at the track medical centre, we have a group comprising of 2 anaesthetist, 1 general surgeon, 1 burns specialist, 1 neurosurgeon, 1 orthopaedic surgeon, 1 emergency physician, 1 radiologist, 2 flight surgeon team and 2 helicopters on standby.
“On the track side, there are 5 medical intervention cars manned by specialists in airway management, 4 small medical car with clinical specialists, 11 ambulances and 3 extrication teams he added.
“For the public medical team, the team will be stationed at the Mall Area from (23rd March) Friday.
“Operations will be up and running on 24th and 25th March and there will be one clinic and 3 mobile teams stationed there. There will be 3 physicians catering to 20 beds at one time.
“For the hillside, we have physicians stationed at 7 outposts.
Comprising of 50 doctors and 170 paramedics from the Armed Forces, Ministry of Health, university hospitals and individual practitioners, the EMT will follow a specific standard operating procedure in ensuring everything runs at clockwork during Race Day.
“In the event of an accident, the first medical responder at the nearest post will respond to the emergency and will notify the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), describing in detail about the accident,” said Dr Mohd Zin.
“Depending on the severity of the accident, the CMO will then deploy the appropriate medical team. This can only proceed upon the running of a safety car or a red flag.
“If the drivers encounter breathing difficulties, medical intervention car will be called upon. The driver will be extricated and given necessary assistance.
“He will then be transferred to an ambulance to the Track Medical Centre within a stipulated time. He will be assessed and stabilized and if the situation is required, airlifted with a flight surgeon to a designated hospital which is HUKM (Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia), Cheras or HKL (Hospital Kuala Lumpur),” added Dr Mohd Zin.
Dr Mohd Zin added that the extrication team was assessed by the Federation of International Automobile (FIA) every year, and the simulation of extrication was done using a real Formula One car.
He said that since its inception in 1999 in the inaugural F1 race at the Sepang International Circuit, the medical team had received numerous accolades from the FIA for its efficiency, adaptability and speed in extricating drivers when an accident occurred.
It gained international recognition when it was awarded the ISO 9001:2000 Standard Certification from Standard Malaysia (Malaysia) and received international accreditation from UKAS (United Kingdom), COFRAC (France), SINCERT (Italy) and TGA (Germany).
Sepang International Circuit Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Razlan Razali hailed the contribution of these medical personnel as ‘unsung heroes’ who put their lives at risk every day for the safety of the drivers and public.
“These dedicated people work day and night in ensuring the safety of all the people involved in the Formula One race. I really salute and admire their dedication and selflessness in performing their duties during race week.
“Without them, there is no F1, and they surely deserve the title of unsung heroes of F1 Malaysia. No amount of money can repay the good deeds they have done for SIC and for our nation.
“I would like to express my sincerest appreciation and thanks to the wonderful job they have done for SIC since 1999,” added Razlan.