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KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India in the Paddock during previews for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on September 29, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Perez wants F1 future resolved in next week as delays continues

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Sergio Perez wants to get his Formula 1 plans for 2017 firmed up in the next week after growing tired of continued delays in talks with Force India.

Perez had hoped to make an announcement regarding his future following the summer break at the Belgian Grand Prix, only for delays to postpone any confirmation.

The Mexican had been linked with moves to Williams and Renault, but his sponsors are understood to have settled on keeping him at Force India for another season.

Perez said in Singapore two weeks ago that he expected to make an announcement prior to this weekend’s race in Malaysia, but nothing has been confirmed.

Speaking to reporters in Sepang on Thursday, Perez expressed his frustration before saying he wanted his future resolved in the next week, or would begin to look elsewhere for a drive – potentially outside of F1.

“I believe that next week is crucial to sort out my future, so by next week I need to know if the option remains or if I have to look somewhere else,” Perez is quoted as saying by AFP.

“At the moment I hope it works out with one team, and if it doesn’t then by next week we will have to look at something else.

“Obviously I want to keep my career in Formula 1 going, but I cannot wait much longer.”

Perez joined Force India in 2014 after a one-year stint with McLaren, and has managed to revive his career with Vijay Mallya’s team, leading to speculation about a move up the grid.

Perez is thought to be in contention for a seat at Ferrari once Kimi Raikkonen calls time on his spell in F1, with a one-year extension with Force India a consideration if he is to make himself available to the Scuderia.

Button reflects on ‘great ride’ ahead of 300th Formula 1 start in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda in the Drivers Press Conference during previews for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on September 29, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jenson Button conceded on Thursday that he never expected his Formula 1 career to last so long ahead of his 300th grand prix start in Malaysia this weekend.

Button made his F1 debut back in 2000 with Williams, making him the most experienced active driver in F1.

Former Honda and Brawn teammate Rubens Barrichello holds the record for the most F1 starts at 326, while Michael Schumacher sits second in the all-time list on 306.

Button will move onto 300 this weekend in Malaysia, before finishing up on 305 at the end of the season before taking a sabbatical from F1 in 2017.

“It means I have been around for a hell of a long time,” Button said when asked about his 300th start.

“I remember when Rubens got to 300 – it was unbelievable that he’d reached 300 grands prix. I was like, ‘I’m never going to race for that long’.

“When I started in 2000 I remember speaking to my dad and he said: ‘How long do you think you’re going to race for?’ and I said: ‘I’ll be done by the time I’m 30 years old.’ And here I am at 36 and this weekend I’m starting my 300th grand prix.

“It definitely sucks you in, Formula 1. It doesn’t let go for a long time, as long as you are performing. So it’s been a great ride to 300.

“Lots of ups and downs, as every career will have, and the important thing is that you stay on top of those bad times and you enjoy the good times as much as you can, because you never know how long they are going to last.

“A very exciting career to this point, 300 races, and if any of these guys can achieve it around me, fair play to them, because it’s a long time doing the same thing.”

F1 Preview: 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 29:  A sign for the Sepang Circuit at the track during previews for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on September 29, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Following his third straight victory in Singapore two weeks ago, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg heads into this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix as the Formula 1 drivers’ championship leader for the first time since the middle of July.

After Lewis Hamilton’s mid-season resurgence, many expected the Briton to sweep through the remainder of the year and pick up his fourth world title.

Rosberg dug deep, though, with his Singapore victory arguably being his most complete thus far in 2016. The eight-point gap to teammate Hamilton may offer some comfort, but the German shan’t rest easy on it.

It feels strange for F1 to be visiting Malaysia so late in the season. The race has traditionally been the second leg on the calendar since 2001, but the decision to shift to the end of the year and form an Asian trifecta of races with Singapore and Japan made complete sense.

Much as Malaysia proved decisive in the title race of 1999, will it do so once again in 2016?

Here’s our full preview of the race weekend at Sepang.

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Rosberg’s run to continue?

Rosberg’s bid for a maiden F1 drivers’ title in 2016 may have been kick-started by his string of four wins at the beginning of the year, but it is this current sequence that could seal it. Wins in Belgium, Italy and Singapore vaulted him back into the lead of the drivers’ championship, and a fourth on the bounce this Sunday would see his advantage extend to at least 15 points.

Both Rosberg and Hamilton have fared well in Malaysia in the past, making a winner hard to pick. Hamilton certainly has the ability to pull a victory out of nowhere, yet with Rosberg in his current vein of form, it would be tough to bet against him.

How close can Red Bull or Ferrari get?

Red Bull was expected to impress in Singapore, making Daniel Ricciardo’s run to second not much of a surprise – the fact he got within half a second of victory was perhaps more interesting.

The unique nature of the street course in Singapore means a repeat this weekend is unlikely, though. The Sepang International Circuit is a track that suits a good all-rounder car, pointing towards a Mercedes victory.

That said, the race to be best of the rest is set to rage on between Red Bull and Ferrari. Malaysia was the site of Sebastian Vettel’s shock victory in 2015, yet Ferrari knows a repeat is perhaps unrealistic. Should rain strike, though, we could see Hamilton and Rosberg face a stiffer challenge.

Resurfaced, recambered Sepang to present new challenge

One of the reasons for the date shift for the Malaysian Grand Prix was so that the planned renovations for the Sepang International Circuit could be completed. While the layout itself remains the same, the track has been resurfaced, with a number of corners having their bumps removed as a result.

Perhaps the biggest change comes at the final corner, which has been given a more pronounced camber to aid the removal of water in wet conditions. As a result, the quickest line for drivers to take may have changed, making practice crucial for track acclimatization.

JB hits 300 in Malaysia

Jenson Button will make his 300th grand prix start this weekend in Malaysia, becoming just the third driver in the history of F1 to hit that landmark. Former Honda and Brrawn teammate Rubens Barrichello still holds the record for starts at 326, while Michael Schumacher sits second on 306. Button will sit on 305 come the end of the season if he starts every race.

While McLaren’s hopes of hitting the front of the pack may remain a pipedream in 2016, Button will be aiming to bring home more solid points for the British team on a landmark race in a landmark season for the Briton.

Haas to make points return?

Haas arrived in Singapore two weeks ago hopeful of picking up its first points since Austria thanks to a raft of updates for the VF-16 car, only for the weekend to descend into something of a nightmare.

Romain Grosjean faced a litany of issues that ended with him failing to start the race, while Esteban Gutierrez finished 11th – again – to extend his points drought ever close to the three-year mark.

Alas, it could be in Malaysia where the updates finally bear fruit. Tire strategy will be key, perhaps playing into Grosjean’s hands, while the grunt of the Ferrari power unit should put the team in good shape.

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix – Facts and Figures

Track: Sepang International Circuit
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:34.223 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Hard/Medium/Soft
2015 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2015 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:49.834
2015 Fastest Lap: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:42.062
DRS Zones: T15 to T1, T14 to T15

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix – TV Times

Free Practice 1: NBC Sports App 10pm ET 9/29
Free Practice 2: NBCSN 2am ET 9/30
Free Practice 3: NBC Sports App 2am ET 10/1
Qualifying: NBCSN 5am ET 10/1
Race: NBCSN 2am ET 10/2

Here are your Malaysian Grand Prix times this weekend

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The Malaysian Grand Prix runs this weekend, now shifting to October after its usual early season run for the past 15 years since 2001.

Here are the pertinent times and details for the weekend on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

NBC Sports Group’s presentation of the 2016 Formula One season continues this weekend with comprehensive live coverage of the Malaysian Grand Prix, culminating in Grand Prix racing on Sunday at 2:30 a.m. ET/Saturday at 11:30 p.m. PT on NBCSN.

In addition to this weekend’s F1 coverage, NBC Sports Group continues its coverage of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup with live coverage from Dover International Speedway on Saturday and Sunday on NBCSN.

Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton continue their battle atop the driver standings heading into Malaysia this weekend. Rosberg currently leads with 273 points, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton close behind with 265 points. Rosberg surpassed Hamilton with his win in Singapore on Sept. 18, coupled with a third-place finish by Hamilton.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, currently fourth in the driver standings with 153 points, boasts four career Malaysian Grand Prix victories, including last year’s race. Hamilton took the checkered flag in Malaysia in 2014.

Live coverage begins exclusively on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app tonight at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT with Practice 1, followed by NBCSN’s live coverage of Practice 2 on Friday morning at 2:30 a.m. ET/Thursday at 11:30 p.m. PT. Streaming coverage on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app continues with Practice 3 on Saturday morning at 2 a.m. ET/Friday night at 11 p.m. PT, and live qualifying on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET/2 a.m. PT.

Live Malaysian Grand Prix race coverage begins Sunday morning at 2 a.m. ET/Saturday at 11 p.m. PT on NBCSN with F1 Countdown, and is followed by F1 Extra at 5 a.m. ET/2 a.m. PT.

Lead play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey will call this weekend’s action, and will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. Townsend Bell will serve as the on-site reporter in Malaysia.

DATE COVERAGE TIME (ET) NETWORK
Thurs., Sept. 29 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 1 10 p.m. Streaming
Fri., Sept. 30 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 2 2 a.m. NBCSN
Sat., Oct. 1 F1 Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 3 2 a.m. Streaming
F1 Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying 5 a.m. NBCSN
Sun., Oct. 2 F1 Countdown 2 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Malaysian Grand Prix 2:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 5 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Malaysian Grand Prix (Encore) 8 p.m. NBCSN

Advantage Rosberg as F1 title fight resumes at stormy Sepang

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP in the garage during previews for the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on September 29, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) Rainy weather may be the only thing that can stop Mercedes from clinching a third straight Formula One constructors’ title at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, as new championship leader Nico Rosberg seeks to capitalize on his current edge over teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Mercedes has won all but one race this year – when the teammates took each other out in a crash – and is now poised to seal the team championship with five races to spare. It needs to score only three points more than closest rival Red Bull, while preventing Ferrari from outscoring Mercedes by 22 points or more, in order to clinch the title.

Thunderstorms are forecast throughout the race weekend, and the Malaysian race and qualifying have a history of being hit by heavy rain. That may give some encouragement to Red Bull and Ferrari that they can challenge Mercedes.

A resurfacing of the track will complicate matters for all teams, as their data from previous years on tire degradation will be obsolete.

Rosberg has won the past three races to turn a 19-point deficit to Hamilton into an eight-point lead. The tension between the teammates is spilling over from the track.

“We are pushing each other very hard on the race track and even off the race track,” Rosberg said Thursday. “It’s a great battle and everything counts, in many areas.”

The German has never won on the sweeping turns and long straights of Sepang, but that should not be considered much of an omen, as he has recorded first-ever victories at five other circuits this season.

Hamilton’s campaign has taken a turn for the worse after his own hat-trick of race wins in mid-season.

“I’ve had ups and downs. I’ve had tough runs and I’ve had good runs, and it’s not particularly any different to any of those,” Hamilton said of the latest reversal of fortunes. “It’s all about how you handle it, how you deal with it.”

His handling of it was commendable in the previous race in Singapore as he took a fighting third place despite a weekend of technical setbacks.

However, Hamilton hinted at some discontent Thursday. Asked about alterations to the set-up of the car in recent races, he said: “If something changes when it doesn’t need to be changed, it can have all sorts of effects.”

“There’s other things in the background which they (the team) can apply more effort to, but that’s internal stuff,” he added.

Team management was staying neutral in the title fight between the Mercedes pair, and Hamilton said there had been no efforts to buoy his spirts following the recent championship turnaround.

“The team doesn’t have anything to say to me because we’re embarking on the team championship, which is what they care about. Me and the (drivers’) world championship are not really their priority in a sense.”

McLaren driver Jenson Button will make his 300th race start this weekend, joining Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello as the only men to reach that milestone.

“When I started in 2000, I remember speaking to my Dad, and he said, ‘How long do you think you’ll race for?’ and I said, ‘I’ll be done by the time I’m 30, and here I am at 36,'” Button said. “It definitely sucks you in, Formula One, and it doesn’t let go for a long time.”