When and Where: The second-stop on the Formula One circuit in 2012 gets underway on Malaysia on Friday, local time, with the opening practice sessions. The first practice begins at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, with the second session following later at 2 a.m ET on Friday morning.
You can watch a live stream of both sessions on SpeedTV.com.
Preview: Following last weekend's exciting opening to the new Formula One season in Australia, there is no respite for the teams as the circuit moves straight to Malaysia for round two.
McLaren laid down an early marker in Melbourne with a one-two in qualifying, followed by a dominant performance from Jenson Button that saw him take the checkered flag. Team mate Lewis Hamilton, who started on pole finished in third.
In some ways, though, Malaysia represents a better barometer for where the teams are at in the new season with this being the first proper racing circuit after the Albert Park street track.
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And Button is certainly not taking McLaren's dominance last weekend for granted.
"I think the race showed that there are several top teams in Formula One, and I think we can expect them to be fighting for victory in Malaysia," Button said, according to the official Formula One Web site.
"Both Red Bull drivers were very quick in the race, and I think we can expect further strong challenges from Mercedes AMG and Lotus this weekend."
One of the most interesting aspects of practice will be to try and access the pace of the Red Bulls. The car looked sluggish in qualifying in Melbourne, starting fifth and sixth on the grid, but then looked much stronger in the race as Sebastian Vettel climbed up to second.
While it seems clear that the Red Bulls won't dominate as they did last year, if they can remain competitive with McLaren then that gives Vettel to opportunity to demonstrate his considerable talents and compete for a third-successive drivers' title.
Mercedes, as Button remarked, will also be a team to watch out for. After a disappointing first two seasons, it looked as if Mercedes had finally got their act together by showing good pace in practice and qualifying in Australia.
But Sunday's race was something of a disaster as Michael Schumacher retired and Nico Rosberg labored due to excessive tire wear--the bane of the Mercedes last season.
Something that team-principal Ross Brawn is eager to swiftly correct.
"I think we may have not optimized the set-up of the car well enough to get the best of the tires," Brawn said to Formula1.com. "So, as I just said, we've learned quite a lot from that weekend."
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