The Malaysian Grand Prix will be held for the first time in October this year. It's usually in March, but the powers that be decided to put this year's race next to the Singapore GP.
A brave more in many ways, and I for one am looking to see how this works out in terms of attendance and functions around the race.
Sepang has been recently resurfaced and I'm fortunate to have tried it our when I raced in the Audi R8 LMS Cup here a month ago. Sepang has done a great job – the surface now being grippier and low wearing. In fact, in our race, the fastest lap was set on the penultimate lap – compared to previous years when the track has been high in degradation. In fact, it's such a difference that teams will actually notice it and will have to factor it into their calculations. For sure the two softest compounds will be the tyre of choice this weekend. The fight for the drivers’ championship is perfectly poised as Nico Rosberg and Lewis
— Red Bull Racing (@redbullracing) September 29, 2016
Hamilton are really close in their fight. I'm not talking about points – although they are so close that it’s almost tied – but what I mean is in terms of performance. Both drivers are at the top of their game, but the difference this year is that Rosberg is a lot stronger mentally. In Singapore, team boss, Toto Wolff, actually said that it was the most complete performance he had seen so far from Rosberg. I'd have to agree with that. To outperform his World Champion teammate on a track he normally dominates on, was seriously impressive.
In Sepang, barring any mishaps for the two Mercedes drivers, they should be on the front row. The question is, will both of them be able to get good starts? It's a long drag down to turn one – and a bad start for either of them will result in a loss of several positions. It's a problem that has been plaguing both drivers at different times all year, and to be honest, it's going to decide the championship if Mercedes doesn't get a handle on it.
Further back, it's certainly heating up in the best of the rest championship. Not much separates Red Bull from Ferrari. And from what I saw from Ferrari in Singapore, I think they can keep Red Bull on their toes on race pace. They will have to be perfect though, because they have lost a lot of positions this year through strategic mistakes.
Assuming it stays dry this weekend, you can count on a Mercedes one two – even with bad starts for one or both of them. However, it is Malaysia after all, so you can never count on the weather. If we get our usual Malaysian thunderstorms, then anything can happen. Which, if that happens, I fancy a win for Red Bull. Ricciardo has been looking hungry, and for the most part, the team has been very good with strategic decisions. It's been great to see them come on strong again this year – and Ricciardo especially is due a win.
Follow Alex Yoong on Twitter: @alexyoong
Catch the F1 Malaysian GP LIVE on Sun, Oct 2, 2:30PM (HKT) on FOX Sports 2
Experience the full coverage of the FIA Formula One season throughout 2016 on FOX Sports Play, where you can watch LIVE races from angles unlike any other, highlights, interviews, behind the scenes and many more. Don’t miss it!