Malaysian Grand Prix 2014 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds

Neil JamesFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2014

Malaysian Grand Prix 2014 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    The Malaysian Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Sepang International Circuit, and it will be the second round of the 2014 Formula One season.

    The race was first held in 1999, and it has been a popular fixture on the calendar ever since. This will be the 16th F1 event to bear the name.

    Four current drivers have won hereKimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. Alonso and Vettel have three wins each.

    In Australia two weeks ago, 15 cars were still running at the end. Fears of reliability problems dominating the early rounds had, it seemed, been exaggerated. Only six cars suffered race-ending failures.

    But with cooling such a significant issue for all the teams, the heat of Malaysia could send everyone back to the drawing board.

    Read on for current standings, circuit guide, tyre and Drag Reduction System (DRS) information, weather forecast, odds, TV and session times.

Current Standings

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    Ker Robertson/Getty Images

    We've only had one race, so the current standings consist of the points-finishers from Australia.

    Those currently in possession of at least one point are (table data from Formula1.com):

    The constructors' championship table makes nice reading for McLaren. But Red Bull are plum last, for the first time in their history.

Sepang International Circuit

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    Will Pittenger / Wikimedia Commons

    The Sepang International Circuit is located towards the south of the Malay Peninsula, around 40 miles from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.

    Kuala Lumpur International Airport is next door.

    The circuit was the first truly from-scratch design by Hermann Tilke and proves that not everything gets better with age. Only one of his subsequent designs (Istanbul Park) is close to being as good as Sepang.

    But if you thought the cars sounded quiet at Albert Park, get your TV remote ready. The walls around the Melbourne track held in more of the sound than the wide, open spaces of Sepang will.

    The huge main grandstand might make them sound a bit beefier on the pit straight, though.

     

    Turns 1 and 2

    A lap begins on the pit straight, with a quite long run down to the right-hand Turn 1.

    This is a somewhat unique corner. The drivers brake and turn in, letting the speed scrub off as the track curves back on itself.

    It's especially challenging because it doesn't have a "standard" linethe cars must keep to the right-hand side of the track, ready for the tight left-hander of Turn 2 which comes as soon as the first corner ends.

    Position changes (and the occasional bump) into here are common on the first lap. Two- or three-abreast is possible through the first corner, but the second isn't quite so forgiving.

     

    Turns 3 and 4

    Out of Turn 2 the cars accelerate through Turn 3, a long right-hander. This is less a corner, more a curved acceleration zone, but it can be tough in the wet.

    It leads onto a short straight towards the tight, slow right-hander of Turn 4. If two cars are close together coming out of first two corners (not uncommon), this part of the circuit is a big overtaking opportunity.

     

    Turns 5 and 6

    A very short straight is next, followed by the long, fast Turns 5 and 6. The track sweeps first to the left and then the right in a corner pair which truly shows off the capabilities of an F1 car.

    Even a beginner to the sport can see the difference between a good car and bad one here.

    The cars have a little less downforce this year, but don't expect anyone to hit the brakes. They should be OK with just a couple of mid-corners lifts off the throttle.

     

    Turns 7 and 8

    After a small straight the drivers brake for the quick right-handers of Turns 7 and 8.

    The entry to the first is a little tougher than it might look because it can be difficult to spot the apex. Ideally, the two corners are taken in one long, smooth arc.

    The cars always look like they're going to run wide on the exit of the first of these, and they quite often do. The second is somewhat easier, and it leads onto a short straight.

     

    Turn 9, 10 and 11

    The tight left-hand Turn 9 is the slowest corner on the circuit. Overtaking here is rare because it's difficult to follow a rival closely through the preceding corners, but it seems a popular place to get lapped.

    The track slopes upwards a little on the exit and even in the V8 era the cars often looked awkward as they attempted to get the power down.

    The track curves nicely into the long right-hander of Turn 10. This curve continues all the way to Turn 11, a medium-speed right. The braking zone for 11 is a little bit curved and this makes it somewhat tougher to get right.

     

    Turns 12, 13 and 14

    A short straight follows, before another beautiful corner pair, Turns 12 and 13. They're a slightly slower version of the Turn 5/6 combination earlier in the lap.

    The first is a left-hander and then comes a very quick change of direction for the longer, more open right.

    Turn 14 is a tight right-hander which comes out of nowhere, right on the exit of Turn 13. Like at Turn 11, the braking zone isn't perfectly straight and the drivers have to drift out towards the left of the track before turning in.

    It's very easy to ruin a great lap here by not quite getting it right.

     

    Turn 15

    And if you get it wrong in the race you're in trouble. A good exit is vital, because next up is the long, wide back straight.

    Perhaps due to the nature of the preceding corners we don't see as much passing down here as we might expect, but if the leading car is on old tyres it's certainly possible.

    At the end of the straight is the wide hairpin of Turn 15, a slow and relatively long corner which leads onto the almost identical pit straight.

     

    Pit Lane

    The pit lane entry is on the outside of Turn 15 (cars going in carry more speed through the corner as they only have to go around half of it), and the exit is just before Turn 1.

Tyres and DRS

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    The Malaysian Grand Prix is usually hot, and the Sepang circuit features numerous quick corners. Also present are a number of heavy braking and acceleration zones.

    The surface is permanent and offers up good grip, but it is very abrasive. These factors combine to make it a tough place for tyres.

    Pirelli are bringing the white-marked medium and orange-marked hard compound tyres. This is the most durable combination available.

     

    DRS

    There will be two DRS zones at the Malaysian Grand Prix. The first zone will have its detection point between Turns 12 and 13, and it will run most of the length of the back straight between Turns 14 and 15.

    The second zone's detection point will be in the middle of Turn 15 and will run the length of the pit straight.

    Having two zones so close together with separate detection points means the first won't be an attractive place to pass. Any driver overtaken in this zone will instantly receive DRS for the second, and in all likelihood will simply take his place back.

    So expect the first zone to be used as a set-up and for most of the action to take place in the second.

Weather Forecast

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    Sepang, 2012. There's a path under there somewhere.
    Sepang, 2012. There's a path under there somewhere.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Sepang is known for its extreme weather. The race takes place at the back end of the northeast monsoon season, and torrential downpours can transform the circuit from bone dry into a river in minutes.

    Temperatures are always high, which could prove problematic for the new power trains. Many teams still have issues with cooling.

    Predicting exactly what is going to happen is extremely difficult, perhaps bordering on impossible. For a broad view, all three days are set to be hot with a good chance of rain.

    But you can say that about any March day in Sepang, and only half of them have rain. We won't really know what's going to happen until it happens. If you're British, you'll understand this better than most.

    BBC Weather will have the latest for Kuala Lumpur, which is fairly close by. Weather.com has the forecast for Sepang itself.

Malaysian Grand Prix Odds

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    Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

    Lewis Hamilton goes into the race as favourite, closely followed by team-mate Nico Rosberg.

    The bookies were watching the same race we were in Australia a few weeks ago. No one else is shorter than 14-1.

    Having started the year with noticeably longer odds than their more experienced team-mates, Valtteri Bottas and Kevin Magnussen are now broadly considered as likely to win as Felipe Massa and Jenson Button.

    Top 10 odds:

    Lewis Hamilton2-1
    Nico Rosberg9-4
    Sebastian Vettel14-1
    Valtteri Bottas16-1
    Felipe Massa16-1
    Jenson Button16-1
    Kevin Magnussen18-1
    Fernando Alonso20-1
    Daniel Ricciardo22-1
    Kimi Raikkonen50-1

     

    Selected Others

    Unsurprisingly, a safety car outing is considered a strong possibility (2-5). Cars will fail, and the rain at Sepang is often heavy enough to warrant a spell behind the SLS AMG.

    Most drivers are considered more likely to finish than not, but there are exceptions. Pastor Maldonado is 2-1 to finish and Romain Grosjean is 7-4, with the Caterham duo at 6-4.

    With reliability still a factor, Jules Bianchi is just 6-1 to score a point for Marussia.

     

    All odds taken from Oddschecker and are correct at the time of writing.

Session and TV Times

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    Bearsmalaysia / Wikimedia Commons

    As always, the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend consists of three free practice sessions, qualifying and the race.

    The session times are as follows:

    Practice OneFriday10 a.m. -11:30 a.m.
    Practice TwoFriday2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Practice ThreeSaturday1 p.m. - 2 p.m.
    QualifyingSaturday4 p.m.
    RaceSunday4 p.m.

    All are given in Malaysian local time (MST). Formula1.com has a handy one-click tool on its homepage to convert them to your own timezone.

     

    TV Times

    In the United Kingdom, BBC and Sky Sports F1 are showing full live coverage. Here are the times their coverage for each session begins.

    SessionBBC One/Two Sky SportsSession Starts
    Practice One1:55 a.m. (Two)1:45 a.m.2 a.m.
    Practice Two5:55 a.m. (Two)5:45 a.m.6 a.m.
    Practice Three4:55 a.m. (Two)4:45 a.m.5 a.m.
    Qualifying7 a.m. (One)7 a.m.8 a.m.
    Race8 a.m. (One)7:30 a.m.9 a.m.

    Remember, the clocks go forward to British Summer Time at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, so adjust your alarms accordingly.

    In the United States, NBCSN is showing live coverage of the second practice (coverage begins at 2 a.m. on Friday), qualifying (from 4 a.m. Saturday) and the race (from 3.30 a.m. Sunday).

    Enjoy the weekend!

     

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