Malaysian Grand Prix 2015 Preview: Start Time, TV Times, Weather, Schedule, Odds

Neil James@NeilosJamesFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2015

Malaysian Grand Prix 2015 Preview: Start Time, TV Times, Weather, Schedule, Odds

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    Lai Seng Sin/Associated Press

    Formula One heads to Asia on Sunday for the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the 2015 world championship. For the 17th year in succession, the venue will be the Sepang International Circuit, south of Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

    Lewis Hamilton leads the world championship by virtue of his victory at the season-opening race in Australia. Team-mate Nico Rosberg is breathing down his neck in second, while Sebastian Vettel is third.

    The German Ferrari ace has won three times here, as has Fernando Alonso. Kimi Raikkonen has two Malaysian wins to his name, while Jenson Button has one.

    All will be dreaming of adding to their tallies, some more realistically than others. But the favourites have to be the Mercedes duocan anyone beat them after their dominant display in Australia?

    Read on for a full preview of the race weekend, including TV times, session times, tyre and DRS information, current standings, weather forecast, a circuit guide and odds.

Current Standings

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    Andy Brownbill/Associated Press

    Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Australian Grand Prix gives him the lead of the world championship at this early stage. As we've only had one race so far this year, only 10 drivers have scored points.

    They are:

    PosDriverPoints
    1Lewis Hamilton 25
    2Nico Rosberg 18
    3Sebastian Vettel 15
    4Felipe Massa 12
    5Felipe Nasr 10
    6Daniel Ricciardo 8
    7Nico Hulkenberg 6
    8Marcus Ericsson 4
    9Carlos Sainz Jr. 2
    10Sergio Perez 1

    In the constructors' championship, seven teams have scored and defending champions Mercedes already have a substantial lead. The current standings are:

    PosTeamPoints
    1Mercedes43
    2Ferrari15
    3Sauber14
    4Williams12
    5Red Bull8
    6Force India7
    7Toro Rosso2

    Data sourced from the official F1 website.

Sepang International Circuit Guide

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    Will Pittinger / Wikimedia Commons / Neil James

    The Sepang International Circuit was the first F1 track designed from scratch by Hermann Tilke, and it is perhaps his best to date.

    Built on a former swamp, the now-bumpy circuit features a beautiful variety of twists and turns, but the highlights are the quick ones. Turns 5, 6, 12 and 13 stand out as some of the best places in the world to witness the awesome cornering ability of modern F1 cars.

    Overtaking is possible at a number of locations, Turn 1 is a great start to the lap, and there are no Mickey Mouse corners hereevery turn is there for a reason.

    Many things get better with age. Seemingly, track-designing ability is not one of them.

    Turns 1 and 2

    A lap begins on the wide start-finish straight. The run down to the first corner is quite long, so there's plenty of time for the cars to get side by side on the opening lap ready to fight for position into Turn 1.

    The corner is a curious (but very nice) decreasing-radius right-hander. The drivers brake late and turn in, trying to hug the inside kerb as the corner tightens. At the exit, the circuit drops sharply into the tight, slow left-hander of Turn 2.

    Getting the car straightened out as quickly as possible, the drivers then stamp on the accelerator and head through the long, flat-out right of Turn 3.

    The first two corners often produce drama, passing and contact on the opening lap, and they can be relied upon to provide action throughout the course of the race.

    Turns 4, 5 and 6

    Coming out of Turn 3, the circuit heads uphill along a short straight toward the braking zone for the tight, tricky right-hand Turn 4. Viewers can expect to see passing here on the opening lap as the field jostles for position.

    It should also provide passing opportunities later in the race.

    At the exit, the track begins to sweep downhill and into a beautiful pair of corners.

    Turn 5 is a fast left-hander, leading straight into the equally quick right of Turn 6. This is one of the few places on the calendar where even casual fans can visually see the difference in the balance and speed of a great car compared to a poor one.

    Turns 7 and 8

    Turn 6 leads out onto a short straight, then seemingly out of nowhere along comes another pair of corners.

    The drivers give the brakes a quick stab before turning in to the tricky-to-spot apex of the medium-speed Turn 6, letting the car drift to the outside at the exit before sweeping through the slightly easier right of Turn 7.

    The cars always look "on edge" here, especially through the first of the two turns, and mistakes are not uncommon.

    Turns 9, 10 and 11

    The exit of Turn 8 sends the cars out onto a medium-length straight which ends at the downhill braking zone for Turn 9. This tight and slow left-hander occasionally sees some passing, but the nature of the preceding corners makes attacking difficult.

    The track heads uphill almost as soon as the apex is cleared and the cars thread their way around the long, long right-hander of Turn 10. As the corner begins to open out, along comes the tighter right of Turn 11.

    The braking zone isn't 100 percent straight, so this one can be a tough corner to get right.

    Turns 12, 13 and 14

    The circuit again heads downhill at the exit of Turn 9, along a short straight and into another of Sepang's brilliant corner sequences.

    Turn 12 is a quick but quite short left-hander. There's a rapid change of direction at the exit as the drivers sweep into the longer right-hander of Turn 13, a corner which seems to go on forever.

    It doesn't really have an endrather, it transitions into the curved braking zone for one of the most important corners on the track, Turn 14. The drivers must brake and steer at the same time to get the nose in to the apex, and we're likely to see a few trips across the run-off area as the weekend goes by.

    At the exit, it's pedal to the metal and out onto the back straight.

    Turn 15

    At the end of the long back straight, the drivers brake hard for the hairpin left of Turn 15. The braking zone is quite bumpy, but the corner is very wide, so mistakes do not always result in a lot of time being lost.

    After waiting to get the power down at the exit, the drivers hit the throttle again and head out onto the pit straight. The start-finish line is a little over a third of the way down the straight.

    Pit Lane

    The pit-lane entry is on the outside of Turn 15, and the exit is on the inside just before Turn 1.

    Creative Commons

Tyres and DRS Zones

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    The Sepang circuit features several long, fast, flowing turns and a number of heavy braking zones. The surface is abrasive and the temperatures can climb to very high levels, making this a tough place to be a tyre.

    The front-left takes the most punishment; if the TV feed provides us with some thermal overlays, an in-car run through Turn 1 will demonstrate this.

    Pirelli are bringing their two hardest compounds, the white-marked mediums and orange-marked hards. The manufacturer expects the difference between the two to be over a second per lap, so the medium should prove by far the better qualifying tyre.

    Last year's winning strategy was a three-stopperthree stints on the mediums and a short, final stint on the hards.

    Expect two or three to be the order of the day on Sunday.

    DRS

    The Malaysian Grand Prix will feature two DRS zones, close together but running from separate detection points.

    The first will have its detection point between Turns 12 and 13, with its activation point a little after the exit of Turn 14. It will end at the braking zone for the final corner, Turn 15.

    The second zone's detection point will be in the middle of Turn 15. The activation point is just after the exit of the corner, and the zone ends at Turn 1.

    The back-to-back nature of these zones means it's unlikely anyone will take risks in the first; it would make more sense to use this zone to close up, then attempt a pass in the second.

Malaysian Grand Prix Weather Forecast

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    Ker Robertson/Getty Images

    Located in the state of Selangor toward the southern end of the Malay Peninsula, Sepang has a tropical rainforest climate. The temperature is high all year round, and every month features a lot of rain.

    March is typically one of the hottest, wettest months of the year and most days will see a shower or two, often very heavy and thundery. F1 cars cannot be driven in the truly torrential rain that often falls in this part of the worldraces have been suspended in the past to allow showers to clear.

    This last happened in 2012.

    The forecast for the weekend ahead is for very typical Sepang weather. Temperatures will peak upward of 30 degrees Celsius, and showers are somewhere between possible and likely on all three days.

    Exactly where and when these showers will fall is anyone's guess, but we're likely to see at least one wet session.

    BBC Weather (forecast for Kuala Lumpur, 55 kilometres away) and Accuweather will have the latest.

Odds

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    Lewis Hamilton is again favourite to win, with team-mate Nico Rosberg in his usual second-favourite spot.

    The battle behind is a little closer. The top 10 favourites are:

    DriverOdds
    Lewis Hamilton8-15
    Nico Rosberg2-1
    Sebastian Vettel17-1
    Valtteri Bottas30-1
    Felipe Massa33-1
    Kimi Raikkonen33-1
    Daniel Ricciardo66-1
    Daniil Kvyat150-1
    Fernando Alonso500-1

    Selected Others

    There appears to be little faith in Felipe Nasr to repeat his brilliant fifth-place finish in Melbourne. The Sauber man is 8-1 for a top-six finishmuch longer odds than a man he beat to the line, Daniel Ricciardo (evens).

    McLaren had a hugely disappointing race last time out, and the return of Fernando Alonso isn't expected to change a lot. The Spaniard is 5-2 for a points finish, with Jenson Button 7-2.

    And in the "without Mercedes" betting, Sebastian Vettel leads the way on 2-1. Valtteri Bottas is 5-2, Kimi Raikkonen 7-2 and Felipe Massa 9-2.

    Odds sourced from Oddschecker.com and correct at the time of publication.

TV Times and Session Times

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    Inti St Clair/Blend Images/Associated Press

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

    The session times are as follows:

    SessionDayTime
    Practice 1Friday10 a.m.
    Practice 2Friday2 p.m.
    Practice 3Saturday2 p.m.
    QualifyingSaturday5 p.m.
    RaceSunday3 p.m.

    All times given are Sepang local time (MYT, UTC +8). Formula1.com has a useful tool on its homepage to convert them to your own time zone.

    TV Times

    In the United Kingdom, live coverage of all sessions will be provided by Sky Sports F1 and the BBC. Their programming times are as follows (all times GMT except Sunday):

    SessionDayStartsSky StartBBC Start (ch.)
    Practice 1Friday2 a.m.1:45 a.m.1:55 a.m. (Two)
    Practice 2Friday6 a.m.5:45 a.m.5:55 a.m. (Two)
    Practice 3Saturday6 a.m.5:45 a.m.5:55 a.m. (Two)
    QualifyingSaturday9 a.m.8 a.m.8 a.m. (Two)
    RaceSunday8 a.m. BST6:30 a.m.7 a.m. (One)

    UK viewers note, the time zone switches from GMT to BST at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning (clocks go forward one hour). Please take this into account when setting your alarm for the race. Similar daylight-saving changes also apply across much of Europe.

    In the United States, live coverage of the event is provided by the NBC network. At the time of publication, details of their coverage has not yet been posted to the usual places. However, zap2it suggests NBCSN will have live coverage of second practice (2 a.m. Friday), qualifying (5 a.m. Saturday) and the race (from 2:30 a.m. Sunday).

    All U.S. times given are Eastern.

    Enjoy the weekend!

    Follow me on Twitter for occasional updates on new articles, or if you have any F1-related questions or comments.

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