After the exciting debut race of the 2013 Formula One World Championship in Australia last weekend, teams are now gearing up for the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang International Circuit.

So far it looks as though most of the top contenders have what it takes to win races, so it’s hard to predict who will come out on top on Sunday.

Last year’s winner, Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, is racing in his 200th Grand Prix, and he’s had great success here with multiple teams. Of course, Sepang is a popular track with many of the other drivers as well.

The track was the first to be designed by Hermann Tilke, the German engineer responsible for eight of the 19 tracks on the 2013 calendar.

It stretches 3.4 miles and is one of the toughest of the year due to harsh weather and track conditions. Ground temperatures can exceed 122 degrees F (50 degrees C) during the hottest part of the day, which combined with a rough track surface means tire degradation is quite severe.

The other key point is the high lateral demands imposed by the circuit, with the most challenging sequence of corners being turns five to seven and turns 12 to 13. And if all of this wasn’t enough, torrential rain can also be a problem.

Pirelli has brought its P Zero Orange hard--a new color for this year--and the P Zero White medium. These are the two hardest tires in the range, ideally suited for the high temperatures and abrasive surface of Malaysia. Of course, with the possibility of rain, Pirelli has also brought its Cinturato Green intermediates and Cinturato Blue full wet tires.

Following the results of the Australian Grand Prix last weekend, Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen leads the Drivers’ Championship points table with 25 points, followed by Fernando Alonso with 18 points and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing with 15 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Ferrari leads with 30 points, followed by Lotus on 26 points and Red Bull Racing on 23 points.

Stay tuned for our complete coverage over the race weekend, including a weather forecast tomorrow, qualifying report on Saturday and full results coverage on Monday.