Well, it is safe to say that the 2015 season woke up in style in Malaysia. Mercedes were rocked by the prancing horse, débutantes continued to shine under the pressure of the big stage and Manor (kind of) upstaged a desperate McLaren. However, there should be far more important matters on the minds of Fantasy GP players as they consider whether they should take advantage of the final opportunity of the unlimited changes that remain available. China should prove a very different challenge to Malaysia and here are some tips that might help you this weekend…
Top Fantasy Dog? – Kimi Raikkonen (£15m)
Vettel might have secured the win for Ferrari in Malaysia but it was the “miserable” Finn that secured Fantasy GP glory with an impressive haul of 33 points, finishing 4th despite the failure to get into Q3 and the early puncture. Let’s not forget that this also earned him Badger’s Top Dog Award – is there a greater honour over a single GP? It was certainly an adventure for Raikkonen and could have easily ended in another early bath but instead he finally got points on the board and matched his German colleague (when factoring in qualifying bonuses) despite being a whole £3m cheaper. My gut feel is that he’ll have an up and down season but may be a close match for Vettel in the fantasy points tally whilst allowing you a bit more manoeuvring elsewhere! One to think about this weekend.
Older & Wiser? – Carlos Sainz (£5m)
In a similar vein to Ferrari, it was Verstappen that got the attention in Malaysia for a mature performance in qualifying and the race. However, it was his team-mate that you may want to have a closer look at if you fiddling with your line-up for China. He may cost a million more, he might be older and he might have also finished a place lower but you simply can’t argue with a 25-point race total including a massive 21 bonus points (only matched by a certain Finn). It is too early to say which has the most talent but the statistics clearly state which provides the best value at the present time!
Misery Despite Company? – McLaren (£14m)
I do promise that McLaren and their drivers won’t be featured every week but it is alarming from my own Friend’s League to see how many people would appear to be putting faith in a Honda recovery. I hate to be unkind but it simply won’t happen or, I should I say, it won’t happen quickly or effectively enough to make them good value at £14m. McLaren have Manor and Lotus (tipped in last week’s post – I still have the faith!) for company on nil points but both alternatives at least leave extra money to spend elsewhere. Ditch them if you have them in your line-up, Button and Alonso will never know and the latter may still be looking longingly at the Ferrari garage as I type this.
Lewis Hamilton was serene in China last year and eased to victory, leading from start to finish in 2014 and also beat the British pole position record from Jim Clark (who had 33). It is likely to be cooler in China than it was in humid Malaysia and therefore Mercedes may be confident that they can bounce back from their mini-setback last time out. Ferrari and Williams will be expecting to compete again but you may also wish to keep an eye for Toro Rosso to get amongst the top runners and continue their impressive start to the season.
There were only two retirements in the classified results for 2014 so reliability may not be a huge issue in cooler conditions although the wet qualifying session last year should not be forgotten and a bit of rain may well shake up the field again. Especially with wet weather featuring in around half of the races in China.
Given the unpredictable weather an appearance from the safety car should also not be discounted again although the odds of one actually stand at just 43%.
Finally, it’ll be interesting to see if we can go this distance this year – last year’s race got ended two laps early by an overly keen marshall. There may be a Spaniard and Englishman that would be grateful for a repeat this time around.