Fantasy Grand PrixView: Abu Dhabi

Here we are then – the last race of the 2016 Formula 1 season and there is all to play for going into the final race. That said, you have to think that only an error, a technical issue or old-fashioned bad luck will prevent Nico Rosberg from winning the World Championship title around the Yas Marina circuit. Here is the second and final part of my end-of-season report card – good luck for those that still have something to play for going into the last fantasy round:

KVY_02Daniil Kvyat (£8m – 152 points) – I would imagine that Kvyat has had better years, switched from Red Bull to the sister outfit at Toro Rosso, outscored by Sainz despite an early podium, outshone by the wonderkid Verstappen, who even had the cheek to steal his battle with Vettel. Grade: D (34.4% fall in popularity amongst fantasy players from pre-Melbourne)

GRO_01Romain Grosjean (£5m – 162 points) – A fantastic start to the 2016 campaign did not ultimately carry through for the French-Swiss driver and his US team.

Sixth-best value driver on the grid but one can’t help but think that 2017 might be tough without a winter of solid technical improvements! Grade: B+ (11.5% rise)

Carlos Sainz (£6m – 223 points) It has been a solid season for the young Spanish driver. Left in the shade by Verstappen’s early departure, he has responded by schooling new team-mate Kyvat and securing a massive 60 qualifying points along with a decent bonus haul. Grade: B (13.2% rise)

MAS_01Felipe Massa (£14m – 147 points) – His pitlane goodbye was a perfect and touching moment in Brazil but it has been far from a perfect final season for him in the fantasy game. A high price and disappointing car have not made him a popular choice and he is officially the worst-value driver on the grid. Grade: D- (49.2% drop)

Fernando Alonso (£10m – 291 points) – A few heroic drives from the former World Champion has illuminated an otherwise disappointing season for him and his team. A joint-fourth best bonus points haul is impressive though his £10m price-tag still puts off plenty. Grade: B- (20.4% drop)

HUL_01Nico Hulkenberg (£12m – 163 points) – There is little to say about the likeable German driver, outshone by Perez, often out of luck and many might feel that a fresh-start at Renault is the medicine he clearly needs. Second-worst value driver for this campaign. Grade: D (49.3% drop)

Valtteri Bottas (£16m – 242 points) – Meh! Expected more from the Finnish driver this year but a poor car and lack of inspiring form has made it both a miserable real and fantasy campaign. Needs to step-up next year if he ever wants that big move. Grade: D (56.4% drop)

Sergio Perez (£11m – 262 points) – It has been a great campaign for the Mexican driver with some surprising but well-deserved podium finishes. Arguably a little expensive to be included in the optimum fantasy team though. A big year in 2017 and surely, at 27, a second chance at a top drive awaits? Grade: B (7.9% drop)

RAI_01Kimi Raikkonen (£13m – 293 points) – A favourable price means that the Finn is a popular choice with over 15% of fantasy teams including him. Raikkonen has been better value than his team-mate Vettel but it is a mixed bag in truth and with Verstappen at £5m cheaper again for a 16-point gain, it has to be a middling grade for a very middling driver. Grade: C (6.8% drop)

Max Verstappen (£8m – 309 points) – It cannot be argued that his switch, and therefore artificially low price, has enhanced Verstappen’s 2016 fantasy score. However, that drive at a wet Interlagos and a race wins shows what this “kid” is about. Bring on 2017! Grade: B+ (43.8% rise)

Sebastian Vettel (£18m – 344 points) – Bang ******* average. Enough said. Grade: C+ (37% fall)

RIC_01Daniel Ricciardo (£14m – 368 points) – It has been a solid season for the smiling Aussie with third-place in the drivers’ standings coupled with a strong fantasy performance, with only Hamilton, Alonso and the switching Verstappen offering better value inside the top 10. He’ll be hoping Red Bull can bridge that gap to Mercedes next year. Grade: B+

Nico Rosberg (£20m – 507 points) / Lewis Hamilton (£23m) 670 points) – What is there left to say with these two? It has been neck-and-neck in real life and, if you strip out a big bonus points haul for the Britain, brought on by his technical gremlins, we’d be pretty much neck-and-neck in the fantasy game too! Grades: A & A (could be revised upwards)! (83.5% rise & 1.7% fall respectively)

Other Tips – Rosberg secured his third win in a row in 2015 in Abu Dhabi but a second or third-placed finish will be so much more rewarding this weekend. Hamilton also had fond memories of the Yas Marina circuit as he secured his second World Championship here in 2014. Ferrari will be keen to end a disappointing season on a high by beating the Red Bull drivers but the prospects of a fairytale finish for either Button or Massa in their last outings seem slim.

Weather is unlikely to be be a factor in the title decider despite wind and rain warnings for some areas of the country, so a repeat of the fun of Interlagos is not on the cards. Sadly. Although this means that you won’t be facing a three or four hour TV-fest on Sunday evening which may help maintain internal household conflict.

Safety cars have only made an appearance in two out of seven GPs in Abu Dhabi (2010 and 2012) though I think most neutrals, alongside Hamilton’s fans, will be wishing for a few unexpected elements on race day. A cheeky prediction combination for this weekend could be one safety car and Rosberg as the first retirement. Might be worth a quid at the bookies too!

As this is my last PrixView of 2016, I want to finish by adding a big thank-you to those that have read and shared my ramblings! It is always appreciated. Enjoy your own off-seasons and hopefully see you all in 2017!