MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Malaysian GP

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The first round of the 2015 Formula 1 season ended up being rather anti-climatic. After being hyped up throughout the winter, the end result was more of the same from 2014: Mercedes dominance and political disarray.

Lewis Hamilton sent out an early statement of intent in his bid for a third world championship by outclassing Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in Australia, making his victory – which was only by 1.3 seconds at the flag – look rather easy.

However, the two drivers are set to battle for supremacy once again in Malaysia this weekend, with the stage set for a thrilling battle in the heat of Kuala Lumpur.

With rain forecast across the three days of running, the pecking order could be set for another shake-up this weekend, making our task of predicting the results all the more difficult.

Nevertheless, here are the MST picks for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Again, you can’t really bet against Lewis Hamilton when he is in this kind of form. Rosberg was soundly beaten once again in Australia, and it is difficult to see anything changing without some divine intervention in Malaysia. Expect Lewis to bag his second Sepang win on Sunday.

Surprising FinishFelipe Nasr. After scoring the best debut result for a Brazilian driver in F1 history last time out, Felipe Nasr heads to Malaysia looking to continue his strong start to life in the sport. The pace of the Sauber took me by surprise, and if he can pick up another strong score in Malaysia, it would go a long way to helping the team.

Most to ProveManor. After failing to reach the grid in Australia, Manor really does need to get out on track this weekend. Even just taking part in practice would be a good step, but another ‘did not participate’ would not go down well.

Additional Storyline to WatchMarciello’s Malaysia bow. A bit of a different one, but keep an eye out for Sauber reserve driver and Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello during practice on Friday. He’s a star in the making and has a very bright future ahead of him. A solid display in Felipe Nasr’s place in FP1 would certainly further these credentials.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Race WinnerLewis Hamilton. Ride the hot hand at a hot track. Hamilton and Mercedes are showing no signs of slowing down and a two-for-two start early in 2015 will already leave Nico Rosberg feeling vulnerable as the season progresses.

Surprising FinishKimi Raikkonen. At a track where he has traditionally gone well, I’d look for Kimi to get on par with Vettel from a results standpoint early on. A top-five finish is possible.

Most to ProveRenault. In the wake of the Australian Grand Prix fiasco, subsequent Red Bull pullout threats and the pair of mechanical failures that took Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen out of the race, is Renault set to withstand the heat and offer up a challenge to Ferrari for second best engine on the grid? Or will they fall further behind? It’s early in the season, but Renault-powered teams can’t afford to lose too much further ground.

Additional Storyline to WatchFernando Alonso’s return. All eyes will be on the Spaniard this weekend from both a health and performance standpoint, and whether he can bring his traditional exceed-the-car flare to the thus far down on pace McLaren Honda. It’s rare that the heat gets overshadowed in Malaysia, but Alonso is more than worthy of doing so.

Predict the Podium

1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2. Nico Rosberg Mercedes
3. Felipe Massa Williams

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For full broadcasting details for the Malaysian Grand Prix, click here.