The new Formula 1 season is upon us which means by extension, so too is the increasingly popular fantasy game that runs alongside it.
As is the case with other fantasy games in other sports, managers are given a set budget ($100m in this case) to begin with and must pick five drivers and a contractor they think will amass the most points by the end of the season in December.
Similarly to Fantasy Premier League, one of your chosen stars will have their points doubled in a week. In FPL that occurs by slapping the captain’s armband on one of your players, whereas on F1 you select a “turbo driver” ahead of each grand prix.
Time is running out to draft your chosen squad ahead of Sunday’s first race of the season in Bahrain so here are some drivers to consider starting off with. And don’t forget to check out our guide to the F1 fantasy rules points scoring system.
F1 fantasy 2021: Tips, scoring system and rules plus how to pick your drivers and team for Formula One game
Speaking ahead of the first race of the new season on Friday, Lewis Hamilton insisted that Mercedes are “not the fastest” team heading into Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s comments should be taken with a pinch of salt, of course, but Red Bull are well-fancied to win in Bahrain despite last doing so with Sebastian Vettel in 2013.
Max Verstappen was fastest in both practice sessions on Friday, beating Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in the first session before coming out on top of Lando Norris in the second.
The 23-year-old should be confident of getting off to a flying start and should he take first place on the podium, he will earn 25 fantasy points for his owners.
Red Bull newcomer Sergio Perez was the most popular F1 fantasy pick last season but just behind him in the pecking order was British youngster Lando Norris.
Part of Norris’ appeal was the fact that his price tag skyrocketed, as he gained $1.3m over the course of the season, second only to Racing Point’s Lance Stroll.
Norris finished third in the first practice session and second in the final one on Friday, finishing six and four places ahead of McLaren teammate Daniel Ricciardo respectively.
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Pierre Gasly finished a respectable 10th in the F1 standings last year but is the 12th most expensive driver in F1 fantasy and therefore looks very nicely priced in the mid-range bracket.
The Frenchman should regularly win his teammate battle against rookie Yuki Tsunoda – despite his strong showing in Friday practice – with each victory worth three points in the game.
It feels like a big season for George Russell considering both Hamilton and Bottas’ contracts with Mercedes are set to expire at the end of the season
The 23-year-old has made no secret of his desire to move up the grid, insisting that his current employers Williams have no qualms with his future ambitions, and will be eager to impress as a result.
At just $6.2m, Russell is a cheap enabler who creates space for one of the expensive big-hitters, but he could chip in with valuable points from time to time.
Speaking in December, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that Mick Schumacher, son of Michael, could be racing for Ferrari as soon as the 2023 season, assuming everything goes to plan at Haas in the interim.
Binotto also acknowledged that the 22-year-old is likely to find his first season in Formula 1 “very difficult”. Be that as it may, Schumacher looks to be a decent low-cost punt on Fantasy given his low price tag.
Schumacher is the second-cheapest racer in the game, but crucially, the only one below him Haas colleague Nikita Mazepin, raising his prospect of accumulating points for beating a teammate.
Even if you think Verstappen might pip Hamilton to the Bahrain Grand Prix, it seems sensible to back Mercedes in the long run given their pedigree.
Mercedes racked up 1,014 F1 fantasy points over the course of the 2020 season, 315 more than Red Bull in second and 498 more than McLaren in third.
Although choosing Mercedes as your contractor takes up a sizeable chunk of the budget, recent history suggests it is a move that should pay off handsomely.
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