During the course of a season, there are a few Grand Prix which cause that melancholy feeling, where you both enjoy the on-track action and the temporary changing of the guard whilst you inwardly groan at the damage being done to your Fantasy Grand Prix ranking. I imagine Singapore brought out this feeling in many of my rivals although anyone with a Ferrari-skewed team might have been sat at home feeling far more smug about life. Back-to-back race weekends give everyone a chance to reset and here is another tip sheet as Formula 1 heads out to play again:
Alexander Rossi (£3m) – Debut races for the slowest team on the grid don’t necessary make headline news and, after replacing Merhi for Singapore, there wouldn’t have been incredible fanfare for Rossi’s efforts. However, regardless of this, the US driver will have been delighted by his solid Sunday showing after beating his team-mate Stevens, despite qualifying behind the Britain. For the bargain Fantasy F1-shopper, there will have been much delight for his impressive 18 bonus points as well – pipping Stevens’ haul by 1 and leaving the Merhi/Rossi combination as the third-best value selection available with a mighty 43.67 points per measly million spent! Take that big spenders…
Nico Hulkenberg (£9m) – It has been a difficult season for the Force India driver as, despite out-qualifying his team-mate Perez by nine to four, his Saturday dominance has failed to be converted to race day points as he trails his Mexican colleague by nine whole Championship points. The German’s fantasy numbers are even worse with Nico scoring 38 fewer than Perez with a value of 12.33 per million a significant 4.23 behind also. I remain a big fan of both though and it is pleasing to see them retained for the 2016 campaign but it would take a brave man to predict a change in the wind for Hulkenberg as the season draws to a close.
Sauber (£4m) – It is likely that one, or perhaps both, of Sauber’s drivers (Nasr and Ericsson) form part of many leading Fantasy line-ups. However, the team have been left somewhat in no-man’s land in the Constructor’s Championship, far ahead of the Manor outfit but trailing in the wake of their immediate rivals, Toro Rosso and Lotus. A valuable point in Singapore plus a significant saving of £3m on the price of their rivals may make them an attractive proposition but, with points seemingly at a premium in the last half dozen races, fantasy players may wish to stump up the extra cash or save even more and go with an added Manor saving to accommodate more expensive options elsewhere.
Other Tips – Hamilton and Mercedes took a difficult win last year in Suzuka last year which was overshadowed by tragic and ultimately fatal crash of Jules Bianchi. A gambling man may predict a return to form for the German outfit on a more traditional, high-speed circuit but Ferrari’s performance and the potential of their engine enhancements on show in Singapore may cause them some concern. Perhaps Vettel’s record of four wins in Japan, second only to his counter-part, one Michael Schumacher, will have resulted in even more sleepless nights during the build-up to this weekend.
Weather is anticipated to be fine for race-day although Friday’s first practice remains under threat of rain. Safety cars have been a factor in four of the last five races on the Suzuka circuit – one of the most demanding and respected tracks on the F1 calendar. Race and qualifying predictions should not, in my humble opinion, be finalised prior to the practice sessions – this may be another good oppurtunity to make significant ground on your fantasy rivals with some “outside of the box” calls!