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Hamilton hoping to defend Malaysian GP title, while Alonso returns

Defending Formula 1 and Malaysian Grand Prix champion Lewis Hamilton comes into the second race of the season after a perfect start in Australia, as he and Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg finished way ahead of the rest of the field.

The Brit, who won in Malaysia last season by a wide margin too, is the odds-on favourite with Coral at 1/2 to come first again. German Rosberg was second, so he is 15/8 for victory this time, and 1/7 for a podium finish.

This race also marks the return of Fernando Alonso, to both the track and team McClaren. The Spaniard suffered concussion in pre-season, which forced him out of the season opener, but is a hugely tempting 500/1 chance to equal the record of four wins at this GP, and 66/1 to be in the top three.

McClaren failed in Australia, as Jenson Button finished at the back of the pack of 11 that didn’t crash out, while stand-in Kevin Magnussen was unable to start the race due to car issues.

But Alonso is optimistic about his constructor’s chances, saying: “It’s clear we have a lot of work ahead of us but Jenson’s result in Melbourne was encouraging from the point of view of reliability and data collection, which are extremely important

“I’ve been working hard on my fitness and I feel good and ready to go this weekend. The heat in Malaysia is always very tough for the drivers but I’ve been focusing on this in my training and I’m definitely prepared for all of the weather conditions that we can face in Sepang.

Everyone in McLaren-Honda is working hard to develop the package and keep building momentum with each race,” he added.

“The weekend will be tough, but I’m looking forward to getting into the MP4-30 for the first time in a Grand Prix and getting back to racing.”

Other drivers to look out for include Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who, like Alonso, has won three times at the Malaysian GP. The four-time world champion, who came third in Australia, is 16/1 for victory and 13/8 to finish on the podium again.

Young teenage Dutchman Max Verstappen, meanwhile, did well in his debut Formula 1 race, before crashing out. But he is a tempting 16/1 shout to finish in the top six this time.