It is possible that Formula 1 goes in smaller circles than any other sport – after an intriguing and entertaining Malaysia, it maybe wasn’t the biggest surprise that China didn’t serve up the best offering to the racing purist. On the track at least, with the off-track antics of a whining Rosberg and the ridiculous criticism of the champagne welding “man they love to hate” Hamilton providing some interest after another dominant showing from the Mercedes outfit.
Moving onto Bahrain and the Fantasy GP and it is fair to say that the serious stuff has now started – your teams are locked in and any further tweaks will eat into your free allowance of just eight changes for the season. If you aren’t keen on sticking with your team and fancy a twist then here are a few drivers and teams to consider before you get left out in the desert sun.
Ferrari (£14m) – Whilst it wouldn’t be incorrect to say that normal service was resumed in China, it might do Ferrari’s efforts a little bit of injustice. Mercedes certainly didn’t romp away with victory and Vettel kept Rosberg honest for a large portion of the race. At a price-tag a whole £10m less than the German team they should really be considered by all Fantasy League participants. As well as preventing, or at least delaying, a Mercedes whitewash, perhaps Ferrari’s biggest achievement is the step they have taken to move ahead of a subdued Williams outfit. Indeed, it is the Prancing Horses that are providing the best pound-for-pound constructor offering so far this year.
Will Stevens (£3m) – It is fairly easy to criticise a driver that many would consider to be on the grid for the gold he carries behind him (and funnily enough they’ll be more on that theme shortly). However, it would be hard not to have been pleased to see the fairly unknown Essex-born driver make his season debut, beat his team-mate and collect a handy 17 points across the weekend. Stevens doesn’t represent a glamour choice but at a measly £3m he does offer potential manoeuvrability for a stretched budget and is actually better bang-per-buck than China’s top dog, Max Verstappen, so far despite only competing once. Food for thought though I wouldn’t be putting any money on a Championship point just yet…
Pastor Maldonado (£6m) – Three races and no finishes sums up the start to Maldonado’s season this year. He is, of course, an easy target for criticism, a “pay-driver” that cannot seem to concentrate for the whole race distance although it is fair enough to point out that two of the incidents this year have been, from his perspective, unlucky. However, a comedy routine around the pitlane area in China did him no favours and in the world of Fantasy F1 there is no room for those that don’t finish or even out-qualify their team-mate, even just occasionally! Therefore, if he isn’t chopped by now then it is probably time for Maldonado to be put out to pasture (sorry, I’ll get my coat)!
Hamilton and Rosberg have an extremely close battle in Bahrain last season and only a fool would not have an element of Mercedes in their line-up coming in to the fourth race of the season. Ferrari only scraped the final points places last time around but you would expect them to be far more competitive this year. Question marks over the pace and power of Red Bull and McLaren will almost definitely be raised again in the desert heat whilst Sauber will be hoping to build on a handy 5 points acquired last time in China too.
Long straights and high fuel consumption will be factors in Bahrain and it should be noted that there were six retirements from the 22-strong field last season. Tyre wear will be a factor again though rain should almost be entirely discounted. However, the prospect of a safety car should not be ignored even if the bookies are counting against it and, in fact, it was a saefty car that prompted the Mercedes ten-lap shoot out last time around.
Finally, it is worth noting that Hamilton took pole, fastest lap and the win in China — the seventh time in his F1 career he has done that, which equals Senna’s tally and only five drivers have had more such hat-tricks. More of the same in Bahrain?