If someone had told us that Canada would let us down for excitement, I would have loudly mocked them. Sadly they were spot on. Hamilton’s sublime pace coupled with good management of his fuel and brakes eased him to victory in Montreal from his team-mate Rosberg.
There has been plenty of debate since then on whether F1 drivers should be prevented from driving flat-out at all times and whilst there is some ridiculously alarmist views around, there is also some real concern on the future of a sport that is quickly becoming ‘diluted’ for both the driver and fan alike.
However, regardless of where the actual sport currently lies, one battle that will always rumble on is the Badger GP Fantasy Grand Prix – this is where the fun is at folks. Here is my PrixView for the upcoming Austrian GP…
Bouncebackability? – Lewis Hamilton (£22m) – I apologise for bringing an infamous football phrase to your F1-filled screens but it would be difficult not to be impressed by Hamilton’s return to form in Canada, especially given the massive disappointment in the streets (and pitlanes) of Monaco. More importantly, if you have him in your team, Hamilton once again added to an impressive points haul which, despite him coming in at a huge price-tag, makes him easily the best value amongst the elite, high-end drivers. I’ve looked at him previously so lets skip the superlatives and look at statistics – 241 points over 7 races, 90 out of 105 qualifying points, 10.95 points per million pounds spent… need I go on?
Finding Traction? – Lotus (£7m) – I tipped Lotus back in the opening GP in Australia and until recently they have severely disappointed with an partially unlucky and mostly idiotic Venezuelan alongside a reliable but uninspiring Grosjean (who has actually recorded a fairly steady 8.56 point per million spent this year). However, they have stood out in the last couple of GPs with some sterling pace and Pastor has even got been crowned the Top Dog for his latest effort. Will wonders ever cease? Offering 3.29 points per million spent, Lotus are outperforming all but the top 3 teams and Sauber (who’s early season pace is definitely stalling). At £7m, the same price as the slightly under-performing Toro Rosso team and £13m cheaper than the woeful Red Bull, they are certainly worth a second (and third) look!
False Hope? – Roberto Merhi (£3m) – Lies, damn lies and statistics! It might surprise you to find out that Merhi is the second best-value driver in the league so far this season, only trailing behind Nasr (featured in the last PrixView). However, before you go to add him to your roster, it needs to be remembered that he has only collected 55 points in total and no race points for the struggling Manor team whatsoever. So, essentially, he is relying on a lack of reliability from his rival drivers which is never guaranteed in modern F1 where it seems that mechanical failures are not such an every day occurrence (unless your name is Alonso)! Cheap he may be but there are far more exciting and potentially profitable drivers to have in your line-up.
Other Tips – Rosberg was the race winner in 2014 when F1 ended a 11-year hiatus from Austria but he was made to fight for the win by Hamilton after the latter’s superb drive from starting ninth. Williams will look to be competitive again after finishing strongly last time out there albeit failing to convert a one-two in qualifying. It is a relative short lap with low demands on tyres with low speed corners which suggests that Mercedes are likely to dominate again in 2015 unless the Ferrari’s can pull something extraordinary out of the bag.
Weather in Austria is predicted to be fairly cool with no extreme temperatures expected although rain is far from ruled out over the course of the weekend and especially in qualifying which may mix up the order for Sunday’s race. There was no safety car in 2014 but given the lack of recent data the possibility should not be discounted this year although my tip would be to keep your predictions on the low side. Perez took fastest lap last year – a repeat seems fairly unlikely. Let’s keep our fingers firmly crossed for some excitement for the eighth race of this 2015 campaign!