So, Lewis Hamilton is the 2015 World Champion. I celebrated, along with a hundred or so of my fellow F1 fans at another fantastic Badger bash, but as I checked my Twitter, tired on a cold Monday morning, I realised that I had not done so spectacularly well from the rain-soaked Austin GP. Siding to 8th in my mini-league, clinging to the top 500, these three races are now critical and here is another quick analysis of what might have changed ahead of F1’s trip to Mexico.
Lewis Hamilton (£22m) – Fantasy players have a tricky choice to make with the newly crowned, three-time World Champion. Will he relax, Kimi-style, into a coma-like state for the remainder of 2015 and settle for a few top-6ish finishes coupled with a plethora of unforced errors or will he be more likely to try and push the record books further now the pressure is off? My view is that Hamilton is likely to take the latter approach but, with a huge battle for second still ongoing, coupled with the lack of pole positions in the last three races (Rosberg actually outscored Hamilton in Austin), now might be the time for a brave switch.
Carlos Sainz (£5m) – Starting from the back of the grid is not something that any F1 fans want to hear about their driver or team. However, this can be music to the ears for those with the relevant Fantasy selections and, if your driver can avoid early race trouble, then it can be bonus points ahoy! Sainz’s 39 bonus point left him with a race haul of 45, second only to Vettel, plus the honour of being (significantly) the best value driver on the grid, with 9 points per million spent for his US exploits. Interestingly, Sainz’s season total is 190, comparing favourably to Verstappen’s196, although his extra £1-2 price tag over his immediate rivals leaves him trailing in the season-long value stakes.
McLaren (£14m) – Honda-powered McLaren managed a healthy 8 points in Austin which took their season-total to a whopping 27 – all for the bargain price of just £14m. No, I’m not suddenly going to recommend that you take an outrageous gamble with your fantasy team but, ahead of 2016, it is interesting to see them reigning in Sauber for eight in the Constructor’s Championship. Pre-season testing will be worth a close watch as it is clear that McLaren may represent the bargain outfit of next year. Equally, they might be garbage again and you don’t get fantasy points for funny radio messages (yet)!
Other Tips – There hasn’t been a Mexican Grand Prix since 1992, so unless the likes of Mansell, Patrese, Prost and Senna (the last five winners in Mexico) somehow correlate to the 2015 circuit and competitors, you will be unlikely to glean too much knowledge from past results. Long straights would appear to favour the Mercedes, and possibly Ferrari’s with their engine upgrades, and I’d expect plenty of opportunities to employ DRS for those with the required horsepower.
Weather is highly unlikely to replicate Texas’ pandemonium as last week’s awful weather in Mexico has now passed by the circuit. Safety car data is obviously unavailable though it may be worth bearing in mind that cooling will be a challenge on this demanding circuit so a few retirements are possible. I’d recommend keeping a close eye on Friday and Saturday’s practice sessions before committing any final predictions but, in my case, I’m clinging to the idea that it must go better than in the US! It certainly couldn’t go much worse…