So, only a week or from a fairly uninspiring season opener, albeit one that threw up plenty of questions for the year ahead, it is now time for Fantasy GP team managers to look ahead to Malaysia and to decide whether they will stick or twist with their driver line up.Here is a quick scouting report for the upcoming race and a look at the potential contenders for inclusion, or a unceremonious axing, in the heat and humidly of South East Asia…

Moneybags Choice?

Lewis Hamilton (£22m)– You may ask why I’m pointing out the obvious here when you consider that Lewis clearly best car on the grid and is the current World Champion? However, putting aside his hefty price tag for a second, he is clearly going to be a staple of many line-ups this season and can you ask for more than maximum points from the first weekend? He comprehensively beat Rosberg in every department that mattered and Rosberg’s relaxed demeanour following the finish is another aspect I believe Hamilton will take delight from – will he start to establish a clear pecking order for the first time at Mercedes?

Bargain Basement Gem?

Marcus Ericsson (£3m)– Clearly, and quite rightly, much has been said about the performance of Ericsson’s teammate, Felipe Nasr, following a storming ride in Melbourne. However, Ericsson best demonstrated the value that exists towards the back of the grid and matched his running mate’s race return of 25 points by gaining an impressive 7 places. Whilst he may struggle to outstrip Nasr in qualifying, I can’t help but think that his haul of 21 bonus points will be repeated again in future races. Sometimes, the tortoise catches the hare…

Dark Horses?

Lotus (£7m) – I’m not sure whether it would have been possible for the Lotus team to have had a worst Sunday with Pastor Maldonaldo being caught-up in the early incident (and, surprisingly, not being the instigator) and Grosjean also retiring early doors with an engine problem. Despite this, there was enough on show over the weekend to suggest that they may be in for a revival in 2015 including an excellent effort to get into Q3 in qualifying. At £7m, Lotus could represent a snip as a semi-regular points scoring team and may present a good alternative to Toro Rosso (£7m) and a quick look at their upbeat press communication would support this view.

Disaster Zone?

Jenson Button (£17m) – You have to wonder what is going through Jenson’s head at present. He almost left F1 in the close season and a big part of him may wish he had after his experience to date with the new McLaren Honda. Untested, unreliable and uncompetitive cars are no recipe for success and you feel it’ll be long season for the McLaren pairing. Compounding a miserable time start to 2015, Button would prove to be the only non-point scoring finisher in Melbourne – it would take a brave Fantasy GP player to have Button as a permanent fixture in their line-up for this campaign.
Needless to say, tinkering with the your team will do little good if you don’t back-up your efforts with a stab at the predictions. It is hard to see the Malaysian GP being anything other than another massive challenge for a decent chunk of the grid so let’s check back in before China to how things are beginning to shape up.

And some more tips

In 2014 Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole position and secured victory too.  2015 could well be a repeat.  There were 7 retirements in 2014 meaning some of the back of the grid drivers picked up plenty of points for moving up from their starting position.  Those bargain bin drivers are definitely worth a look this weekend.
Weather for Sunday is looking to be a bit stormy and so it’s fair to say there’s a high chance of rain.  Going by history at Sepang, safety cars and race stoppages are also likely.
Teams wise, Mercedes are a no-brainer, you need them in your team.  Beyond that Williams and Ferrari are both looking good for points, but at a price.  Sauber are cheap cheap cheap and going by Australia they could well be on for a good value points finish.  The same can’t be said for McLaren.

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