2014 Malaysian Grand Prix preview

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After a two week break, Formula 1 returns this weekend with the Malaysian Grand Prix as the first race in a double-header with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Following his dominant victory in Australia, Nico Rosberg is looking to equal his father’s tally of five grand prix victories this weekend, and it is hard to write off the German driver given the pace of the Mercedes W05 car.

However, Rosberg will have to be wary of the challenge posed by teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was forced to retire after just three laps in Australia due to an engine problem. The Briton will be looking to make up for lost time this weekend, as will defending world champion Sebastian Vettel following his own retirement down under.

You also have to consider the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button as possible race winners, whilst rookie Kevin Magnussen will be hoping to build upon his second place finish in Australia.

Finally, there’s that ever-present factor in Malaysia: the weather. This race has always been held in monsoon season, meaning that rain can strike at any time.

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Just how quick is Mercedes?

How much has really changed in Formula 1 over the winter? Once again in Australia, a German driver won the race with relative ease (albeit in a different car… and it was a different German…). Nico Rosberg seem rather relaxed when winning the race down under, like it was a formality. Will he and teammate Lewis Hamilton enter battle with each other this weekend for the race win?

Rookies hope to continue good form

Having made their debuts in Australia, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat will be hoping for more of the same after both scoring points at Albert Park. In second place, Magnussen claimed the best result for a driver on debut since 1996, whilst Kvyat picked up some good points in ninth place, and even hassled Kimi Raikkonen for position at one point. Marcus Ericsson’s debut ended prematurely due to an oil pressure problem, but he too will be encouraged by his maiden Formula 1 outing.

Can Red Bull bounce back from fuelgate?

Everything has a -gate nowadays, and this is no exception. Following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix (which has been appealed), Red Bull needs a good weekend in Malaysia to avoid losing any more ground as the team bids for a fifth straight world title. The car is quick, certainly, but it needs to see the finish line if it is to give the team any points.

Bottas and Massa are the dark horses

With 19 overtakes, Valtteri Bottas provided a good chunk of the action in Australia, and it was a joy to watch him race. Had he not made contact with the wall when chasing Kimi Raikkonen, he may well have finished on the podium. Alongside teammate Felipe Massa (who retired at turn one), Bottas is a dark horse to give Williams a podium finish that would undoubtedly underline its pace for the coming year.

Honoring MH370

The Malaysian Grand Prix will be a rather subdued event this weekend following the recent disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. A number of teams will run with tributes on their cars, and a minute’s silence is expected to be held ahead of the race on Sunday.

Track: Sepang International Circuit, Sepang (5.3km)
Laps: 56
Corners: 15
Lap RecordJuan Pablo Montoya 1:34.223 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Fastest Lap: Sergio Perez (McLaren) – 1:39.199
DRS Zones: Main straight (T15 to T1); T14 to T15

For the complete TV times and schedule, click here.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III