It has been two races since the summer break and two back-to-back wins for Nico Rosberg over Lewis Hamilton, as the German has cut his deficit in the Championship to just a mere two points.
Now Formula 1 starts its three-race tour of Asia and we have a title challenge firmly on our hands. Going into Singapore, here is a some fantasy-led driver statistics that may help you determine where momentum is heading for the second-half of this season:
Surprising value! – These last two races have not failed to throw up a surprise or two and I didn’t think I’d be pointing out Esteban Gutierrez (£3m) as the best value driver of the past two races. In gathering 23 points, the Mexican has matched Romain Grosjean at a price 40% cheaper. Momentum is with the team’s second driver but consistency may, quite fairly, be a concern moving forwards. An extra mention must also go to Fernando Alonso (£10m) for his 51-point haul in Spa alone, his bonus points of 45 only beaten by Hamilton’s 56. A price tag of £10m will still put off all but the most loyal McLaren fans though but the third largest points total across the past two races is nothing to be sniffed at.
Tight at the top? – Whilst Rosberg (£20m) has kept the title battle very much alive, it is Lewis Hamilton (£23m) that is taking fantasy glory, with his 102 point haul in the past two races and a 50% gain over his team-mate. A combined value of 4.43 per million spent could have been even greater if he had managed to avoid getting bogged down at the start in Monza. Whilst calling the title race may be difficult, it is still the Britain that looks the solid bet for your fantasy line-up.
Retiring early? – F1 news has been dominated by the double-retirement/sabbatical of Jenson Button (£10m) and Felipe Massa (£14m). This sad news may have affected the mentality of each at they have struggled to a combined points total of just 20 and an average per million spent of 0.64 and 1.10 respectively – form they will both want to address in the latter part of 2016 though your precious fantasy funds should definitely be better spent elsewhere.
Experience triumphs youth? – Max Verstappen’s (£8m) on-track behaviour drew a lot of attention in the poist-Spa media but it is Daniel Ricciardo‘s (£14m) form that should be the focus for hardened Fantasy players. Even at the Australian’s hefty £6m premium, a statistical relic from the early Verstappen team switch, he has outscored the young Dutchman by 45 points to 11 and 367% more race points (28 to just 6). Neither need to fear for their seat next season but the flexibility of your budget may be a big factor ahead of your selections for Singapore and beyond.
Other Tips – Sebastian Vettel took his third victory of the season under the lights of Singapore last time out with a dominant display whilst the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and Ricciardo’s Red Bull locked out Rosberg from a podium finish. Meanwhile, Hamilton will be looking to avoid a repeat of last seasons’ retirement as he looks to put an end to his mini-run of poor fortune and bad starts. Mercedes have struggled here previously and in traffic this season and an avid review of the Friday and Saturday practice sessions is essential to see whether bold predictions can make big gains come Sunday.
Weather is anticipated to be hot, humid and cloudy over the race weekend at the time of writing although scattered thunderstorms cannot be discounted and may yet affect the race.
Interestingly, in eight races there has never NOT been a safety car appearance, with their frequency averaging out at 1.5 per race, so flip a coin on one or two (with the latter recommended in this virtual safety car age).
Retirements are always a little bit of a lottery but you may wish to look at Pascal Wehrlein for a hat-trick of non-finishes after dismal showings at Spa and Monza, this despite some mightily impressive qualifying runs.