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SAUDI ARABIA FORMULA ONE PICKS AND TEAM REVEAL

ITS LIGHTS OUT AND AWAY WE GO!

What an exciting start to the Formula 1 season this past week at Bahrain!

Charles Leclerc, who began the race on pole, led from the front from the off. Despite some of Max Verstappen’s best efforts (a fantastic stint of racing!), Leclerc was able to regain any loss in position and ultimately go on to win the race. This of course was helped by the fact both Red Bull cars faltered in the final laps of the race, both retiring with fuel pump/engine issues. Certainly something to monitor with the Red Bulls moving forward, especially this week given we have only had the 1 week between races.

Here at FanTeam, we have you covered for this week’s Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. This weeks’ contest will cover qualifying and the race. There is no sprint race at this Grand Prix, but we will discuss the sprint format and how this impacts scoring once we get to the races where this will feature.

This weeks’ contest features two buy-ins, €2/£1.68 and €12/£10.08. The main contest features a prize pool of €2,000/£1,680.

RULES

The contest will cover this weekend’s grand prix only. You must select 6 drivers to fill out your team, working within a budget of 107.0m. You will also be required to select a captain and vice-captain in the process. Your captain will score x2 points, your vice-captain will score x1.5 points. Your captaincy selections do not count towards your budget figure, which should make your captaincy choices a little easier. This allows you to tailor your captaincy choices to which drivers you think will perform well at this weeks’ track. 

No bench required, so the selection headache is removed for you here!

You can multi-enter this contest, with a maximum of 30 teams allowed per user.

Standard fantasy scoring will apply (the scoring can be accessed within the contest itself), and qualification and race scoring will apply to this contest. If two teams are tied in this contest once the Chequered flag is waved, the team with the most remaining funds will win.

BUILDING YOUR TEAM

For anyone new to the single race Formula 1 weekend contests on FanTeam, you will notice a bit of a difference in line-up construction when compared with the full season contest. In the full season contest, you can select any 6 drivers within budget, along with a constructor. The weekend contests however are a little different. Here’s how…

Within your team of 6, there are 4 tiers that you will be selecting drivers from. Tier 1 and Tier 2 requires you to select 2 drivers from each tier. Tier 3 and Tier 4 require you to select only 1 driver from these tiers. 

In an ideal world, you could select the top priced driver from each tier. The catch is, your budget won’t allow you to do this! You will have to select a more balanced line up if you are selecting a top Tier 1 and Tier 2 driver for example. The Drivers Tiers are set out as follows:

TIER 1 

Charles Leclerc (31.5m) Max Verstappen (31.2m) Carlos Sainz Jr. (28.8m) Lewis Hamilton (28.3m)  Sergio Perez (28.0m) George Russell (22.0m) 

TIER 2 

Fernando Alonso (16.1m) Pierre Gasly (15.8m) Esteban Ocon (14.3m) Lando Norris (9.3m)  Daniel Ricciardo (8.2m)  Nico Hulkenberg (4.2m) – Hulkenberg in for Vettel

TIER 3 

Kevin Magnussen (18.0m) Yuki Tsunoda (10.5m) Mick Schumacher (10.2m) Lance Stroll (6.0m)  

TIER 4

Valtteri Bottas (17.0m) Guanyu Zhou (10.0m) Alexander Albon (5.1m) Nicholas Latifi (3.5m) 

As you can see from the pricing, it is impossible to stack the top drivers from every tier. Doing this will leave you short on budget by 22.6m! 

This was a much bigger gap than we had at Bahrain, so it shows the difference in pricing this week. Finding the right balance is going to be key in this contest, to ensure you have the drivers you want without hampering your line up too much.

LINEUP SELECTION

TIER 1

A price increase for the Scuderia duo this week! Ferrari came as advertised, with bags of pace and a car without reliability issues. The team also got the tyre and pit strategy spot on during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

In spite of that, I fancy Red Bull to hit back this week. I think it’s worth seeing how things pan out in practice, as you have up until qualifying to lock your team in. This gives you 3 practice sessions to gauge pace and who will potentially be in the mix in qualifying. This was a good bench mark last week, as it was quite clear from practice 2 onwards that Ferrari and Red Bull were the two teams that would be challenging for pole. 

Red Bull claim to have resolved the fuel pump issue, and the steering issues Max had were seemingly caused by the jack in the pits, which is used to hoist the car when tyres are changed. With both issues diagnosed and supposedly resolved, if we see Red Bull putting in fast laps once more in practice, I am going to pivot to Verstappen this week. I think the circuit may suit Red Bull more, it’s a very fast street circuit, this one. I suspect both Ferrari drivers will also be higher owned due to their race 1 success, which would of course give you an edge on the field if Max is lesser owned. 

I actually quite like the Red Bull double up this week! Before the issues, Red Bull were on for a 2-4 finish. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them 1-3 this week. 

Mercedes apparently weren’t sandbagging at all! Not much, anyway. Though they did find some pace, they were still behind Ferrari and Red Bull. It is hard to write Mercedes off again this week. I can’t, not completely at least. As long as Lewis Hamilton is behind the wheel, he will always be in the mix. I think it may be a few more weeks before we see Mercedes’ true pace once they work through their issues. The longer that lasts though, the stronger the teams above will become as they make their own tweaks.

TIER 2

Things look much different in tier 2 this week. Not surprising, McLaren received a big price drop. This isn’t surprising, as McLaren look well off the pace. The issue they faced in pre-season testing with their brakes has been resolved, and they aren’t really suffering from porpoising like some of the other teams. However, the fix with the brakes seems to have come at a cost, and has impacted how aero-dynamic the car is. Something is slowing the McLaren down, and I simply don’t want to go there until we see improvement.

Alpine on the other hand looked quick. They look like they could nestle in as the number 4 constructor behind Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes (unless Haas have anything to say about it!). I think they got their tyre strategy wrong last week, Alonso being only the second driver to pit before he switched to hard tyres in an attempt to play the long game. It was a 3 stop race for both Alpine cars, so not sure this strategy fully paid off for them over the course of the race. It certainly didn’t for Alonso, as he looked off the pace compared with his team mate all race.

Pierre Gasly has had some tough luck in his Formula 1 career, hasn’t he? He pushes the AlphaTauri to its limit, consistently making it to the final round of qualifying. When his car isn’t failing him, he is very capable of consistent top 10 finishes, as he has shown. He was on for a possible 8th place finish had he not retired in Bahrain. He’s definitely in my thoughts again.

Nico Hulkenberg (once again for Sebastien Vettel) is a no fly zone for me. I don’t like what I’m seeing from team Aston Martin.

TIER 3

Well, well, well! Where has that pace been, Haas?! Kevin Magnussen qualified 7th and finished 5th! Incredible turn around from the Haas team. This car was at the back of the grid last season. Yes, Magnussen’s finishing position is slightly inflated by the Red Bull retirements. It is still a very promising sign for team Haas. If they can also get Mick Schumacher up to speed, this could be a team with two cars in and around the top 10 on a weekly basis. Understandably, their price is much higher this week!

Outside of Haas, we have Yuki Tsunoda and Lance Stroll in tier 4. To cut to the chase, I have absolutely zero interest in Lance Stroll and Aston Martin currently. I think I would prefer to balance the rest of the team out to ensure I have one of the Haas drivers. Yuki Tsunoda I’m not against owning. He put in a good showing in Bahrain with an 8th place finish. I just worry about the consistency with him.

TIER 4

Alfa Romeo and Valtteri Bottas surprised everyone, including myself, when he qualified 6th on the grid! I had written Alfa Romeo off, I’ll be honest. However, after that showing, I won’t be doing it again. My issue this week is Bottas’ pricing. He has a huge price increase to 17.0m. As impressive as he was last week, I just simply can’t justify paying that. I think I would rather pay the Alpine prices, or pay for Pierre Gasly. He is the driver to own in this tier, but he’s too expensive for me to own him. So where do we go?

Teammate Zhou Guanyu enjoyed a successful Formula 1 debut, finishing a very modest 10th. He’s much cheaper than Bottas, so despite not seeming as quick in the Alfa Romeo, he is much cheaper. I still don’t have enough budget to reach Zhou, you’ll see why below. 

Instead, I am pivoting to Alexander Albon. I think this could be the bargain to be had amongst all of the tiers to be honest. Albon managed to finish ahead of both McLaren drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and also his team mate, Nicholas Latifi. I’m not expecting spectacular from the Williams car, or from Albon. I’d be surprised if he finished 13th, again. In a race that saw 5 cars retired last year, there is every chance we could get some retirements once again. Albon is more than capable of finishing above all of the drivers he finished above last week, so he could find himself again around 12-14th on the grid to finish the race. If we get that from a driver priced at 5.1m, he’s a bargain!

TEAM REVEAL

Max Verstappen is going to hit back this week and win the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix. I’m expecting a big response from Red Bull, and I do think despite Ferrari’s success in Bahrain, the Red Bull for me is still the slightly quicker car. But the pace is hairline difference it seems, and it could well become horses for courses depending on the circuit.

I have included Lewis Hamilton, as I think we see some further improvement from Mercedes this week. I still don’t think they will be competing to win the race, but Lewis is again capable of a podium finish if they have unlocked a little bit more pace. Hopefully they’ve resolved the porpoising this week! I would love to have Leclerc here, as I think he will be challenging Max at the front. I just don’t like the imbalance throughout my team with him included.

I am hoping Pierre Gasly repeats last season’s finish in this race, where he came 6th. I would be more than happy with that. Esteban Ocon had a really impressive showing in this race last year (finishing 4th), and seemed to have the pace over his team mate last week. With that said, I am giving Fernando Alonso one more week and the benefit of the doubt over his team mate.

I can’t afford Kevin Magnussen, so I will happily take his Haas team mate Mick Schumacher. He may race with a bit of a chip on his shoulder this week. It must have dented his pride a little that the “new guy” returned to the team and instantly produced great results in his second debut for the team. Alexander Albon rounds out the team, as the best driver remaining within budget.

Best of luck with your line ups this weekend race fans. Hope to see you on the leaderboard.

Nick Owen

Twitter – @nickofwigan

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