May is here and whilst the sun may not be shining (at least not in here in Berkshire), we do at least get to welcome back Formula 1 after its first mini-interlude of the season. Lewis Hamilton managed to record another controlled win in Bahrain whilst Rosberg appeared to be suffering from a prolonged 2014-hangover (or genuine brake problems but where is the fun with that story?)! Elsewhere, Ferrari’s resurgence continued albeit Vettel got surprisingly outshone by a wide-awake Raikkonen for the first time this season.
Europe now beckons for the grid and it is time, once again, to look at the Fantasy F1 options going into the fifth race of the calendar year in Barcelona. If, like myself, you have been forced into some early season changes, maybe a quick read of the below may help with that all-important tweak or avoid that ill-advised blunder.
Brazilian Gold? – Felipe Nasr (£3m) – Let’s face it, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to conclude how this débutante might make a good investment choice for any Fantasy GP player. Nasr is, pound for pound, the best value offering this season and by a significant way from his Fantasy GP rivals. He has received plenty of plaudits and deservedly so. My only word of caution would be if you are playing catch-up – my guess is that many people will have him in their line-ups and therefore they will inevitably be cancelling each other out. However, if he can maintain his current form then he is as every bit as valuable as those costing many times more!
Mr Consistency? – Romain Grosjean (£9m) – Lotus have, to be fair, had a difficult season and it never helps when funding issues mean that you need to put half your focus on a crazy Venezuelan doing his best foreign taxi-driver impression. However, as I referred to before Malaysia, their car has good pace and it is probably time to commend Grosjean for picking up some of the slack from his team-mate. At £9m, he won’t break the bank and has picked up enough points to be a decent mid-field runner. If you have a bit of a slack in you budget and your team is a little inexperienced, he may not represent the worst move.
Second-season Syndrome? – Daniel Ricciardo (£17m) – A clear fan’s favourite, the ever-smiling Aussie had a wonderful 2014 season in his début campaign for the Red Bull team in an otherwise challenging year for the outfit. However, if Lady Luck was on his shoulder last year, she has disappeared during this campaign as he has been struck by multiple engine issues. If only Christian Horner would come out and comments on the failings of Renault and proceed to throw his… oh, wait! At a costly £17m, Ricciardo does not appear to be worth a significant outlay on current form though late-season engine penalties may make him an interesting wildcard selection from a bonus points perspective.
Other Points – Hamilton led from start to finish in Spain last time around and it would be difficult to look past a similar result this time around although the two Ferrari drivers have a knack of upsetting at least one of the Mercedes outfit. Bottas may also take confidence from nicking fourth-place three weeks ago as Williams finally look to kick-start 2015. Further down the field, McLaren will be desperate to take a step-forward from their near-single-point-grab in Bahrain whilst Toro Rosso will be eager to get their two youngsters to the end of the race this time around.
Weather is predicted to be in the low 20s which is unlikely to be scorching enough to bring tyre-wear massively into the equation although the Ferrari undercut may again be a factor to consider when it comes to predicting the top-three. Additionally, there have only been five safety car periods in Spain since 2003 and four of those were following first-lap incidents. It is fair to say that the teams should be familiar with this circuit from plenty of previous testing but I wouldn’t rule out fireworks as the season slowly cranks into full flow.