Is anyone really hungry for more after the bore-fest that was Budapest? Maybe we would have been best to start the summer break a week early and pretend Hungary never happened?
However, F1 and Badger’s fantasy offerings wait for no man and therefore it is time to have one last look at your line-up and predictions before the month-long hiatus.
Bearing this in mind, here is the third and final part of “fantasy driver wars” for your perusal. Don’t forget your predictions if you want to protect or grow your league position prior to Spa.
Haas – Romain Grosjean (£5m) v Esteban Gutierrez (£3m) – Most of these team-mate battles have had at least some angle to consider and a dilemma to ponder. However, I could look all day here and not find one here. Grosjean’s form in Haas’ début season has been both encouraging and impressive, albeit slight skewed due to those brilliant first couple of races, whilst Gutierrez has been best recognised for having a pathetic tantrum at a one-figure salute (arguably deserved after some torrid back-marker driving). 164 points to 51, 8 qualifying sessions to 3, a value of 32.8 points per million spent compared to 17 (despite a £2m price difference), all in favour of Grosjean. Need I go on…?
WINNER: ROMAIN GROSJEAN
Renault – Jolyon Palmer (£4m) v Kevin Magnussen (£6m) – On the face of it, choosing a favourite out of these two drivers would appear a difficult decision with their value per million spent nearly identical at 28 and 28.5 respectively, whilst Magnussen’s 59 point advantage is offset by a higher cost of £2m, representing a chunky 50% more than the Brit. However, I’m not going to sit on the fence here and my simple advice is that neither of them should be anywhere near a Fantasy line-up given the current performance of the Renault. Oh, and the Dane just shades it after that points finish in Russia and a slight better qualifying record. Recent form is worrying for the 23 year-old though and it could still be that Palmer’s light is shining brighter by the end of 2016.
WINNER: KEVIN MAGNUSSEN
Manor – Pascal Wehrlein (£3m) v Rio Haryanto (£3m) – I hate to give the ending away so early but it is the German/Mauritius driver should get the glory here for that spectacular single point in Austria alone. In truth, the dominance goes deeper than that, the Mercedes’ prodigy is the best-value driver in this season’s fantasy league (at 39 points per million spent) and has a 40-point edge over the less impressive Haryanto. If I’m going to pick any fault at all, it’ll be the 7 to 4 qualifying record (in Wehrlein’s favour) which I’d have expected or hoped to have been more dominant. I’m splitting hairs though.
WINNER: PASCAL WEHRLEIN
Other Tips – In 2015, for the first time since 1955, the German GP disappeared from F1’s calendar with the Nurburgring’s baulking at the expensive hosting costs and this year’s venue, Hockenheim, failing to agree terms to replace it. However, if we look back at the 2014 race, familiar faces in Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton make an appearance in the podium position, the latter having fought his way back from 20th on the grid.
A further win for the Silver Arrows would be again be no surprise here. Bottas (2nd) and Alonso (5th in his Ferrari) would love to duplicate their top-five finishes this but it would appear unlikely given their respective fortunes in 2016. A straight fight-out between Red Bull and Ferrari for the “other” top finishes is far more likely whilst Johnny Herbert is keen on a Force India top-six finish in his Sky column. I’m yet to be convinced to part with my money at odds of 13/8.
Weather is expected to be dry for Friday and Saturday and therefore our own Twitter team should be spared a long qualifying session at their computers. However, Sunday is less certain, with rain a stronger possibility to interrupt proceedings.
Hockenheim’s revised layout is a race track that provides long-straights and a couple of good opportunity of overtaking outside the usual DRS zones, and therefore good grip will be necessary. Pirelli’s supersoft compound is the order of the day again with Ferrari choosing a massive nine sets for Sebastian Vettel’s home GP. Force India buck the trend with 3 sets of the medium tyres, hinting towards a different strategy, which they’ll hope doesn’t compromise their race day on Sunday.
Safety cars have made only brief appearances at Hockenheim since the track changed with only 3 of the 9 races featuring the occurrence, and none more than once. A wise choice would be none or one for Germany unless the weather predictions dramatically change before Saturday qualifying.
Poor Jenson Button was the only driver to not to finish in Hungary and, despite lifting our Top Dog award in controversial fashion, a repeat and a first retirement here might not be greeted with such elegant words!