RACE DEBRIEF

    With two rounds in the bag, our Fantasy F1 game is beginning to take shape – with players now preparing for what could be an exciting Monaco Grand Prix this weekend. So what did we learn from the last encounter in Spain? And who should you be looking to get into your team this weekend? Here’s the lowdown…

    Familiar surroundings for Leclerc

    As a GP3 and F2 champion, Charles Leclerc arrived in F1 this season with a glowing reputation – and he has quickly become a star performer in our game. He earned players 17 points with his P10 in Barcelona last time out, and despite suffering a double retirement at this circuit in F2 last year, expect a performance from him this weekend.

    Another reason to consider the youngster is his ability to make up places during the race, with a driver earning two points per place gained – do remember though that it’s capped at 10 points. In Azerbaijan, he started 13th on the grid before battling to a superb P6. Then in Spain, he made up four places to secure a tenth-placed finish. He has reached Q2 at the last two races, which has secured his players an extra two points both times.

    He’ll be motivated to perform too. The Ferrari protege is attempting to be the first Sauber driver to score in three consecutive races since Marcus Ericsson did so in Hungary, Belgium and Italy in 2015. And the Monaco-born driver will be bidding for glory in familiar surroundings – he’s set to become the first Monegasque driver to race in his home GP since Olivier Beretta in 1994.

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    Flying Ricciardo

    Daniel Ricciardo knows how to get maximum pace from his Red Bull challenger. The Australian set the fastest lap at the Spanish GP, the third time he has achieved that feat this season.

    Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas has taken the other two fastest laps in 2018, but Ricciardo’s pace during the two practice sessions in Monaco on Thursday suggests he is on course for a fourth success.

    With a vital five points up for grabs, it’s crucial to pick the right man for the job.

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    Constructor streaks coming in to play

    With Monaco the third race of our Fantasy F1 season, we now enter streaks territory for the constructors - it’ll be race five at the French GP before driver streaks start to manifest.

    So who’s on course for extra points this weekend? The big three teams Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull will all gain a five-point bonus if they qualify both cars in the top ten.

    However, no team has been able to finish both races – Azerbaijan and Spain - with both cars inside the top ten so won’t be awarded the ten-point race streak bonus this weekend.

    Which team could guide you to glory? Lewis Hamilton predicted on Wednesday that Mercedes could be in for a “difficult” weekend while Red Bull secured one-two finishes in both practice sessions on Thursday. And what about Ferrari? Well that leads us nicely on to our next point…

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    Ferrari’s controlling win last year

    Ferrari were dominant in the Principality last year, with Sebastian Vettel leading home team mate Kimi Raikkonen for their first one-two of that campaign. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo completed the podium in third.

    They also locked out the front row of the grid after a controlling qualifying session, with Raikkonen the quickest Prancing Horse ahead of his German team mate.

    With pole position earning you 10 points and the race victory an extra 25, it's important to choose a team and driver you believe will guide you to success. Could that be Ferrari? You certainly can't write them off - though Red Bull look the hot tip this year.

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    Hamilton's chances?

    It’s a good question. Lewis Hamilton endured a challenging weekend in Monaco last year, finishing seventh after qualifying down in 14th - so he’ll be determined to enjoy a better time in Monte Carlo this year.

    He is a man in form heading into this weekend, with his pole and win in Spain earning players a whopping 44 points last time out. And he has extra motivation in Monaco – he’s seeking his 75th career pole and his 44th victory with Mercedes.

    And the Briton has a 100 per cent finishing record in 11 Monaco GPs and comes into this weekend with a 30-race scoring streak, the longest in F1 history. Certainly plenty of reason to keep him in your team…

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    Mr popular

    Another driver who has proved hugely popular this season is McLaren’s Fernando Alonso. Around 70 per cent of players kept the Spaniard in their team for his home race in Barcelona, and he didn’t let them down with an eighth-placed finish – earning 16 points or 32 if selected as a turbo driver.

    The two-time world champion is the only driver other than Hamilton and Vettel to score in every race this season – tying the total number of races in which he scored in 2017. So on recent form, you wouldn’t bet against him performing in Monaco - a race he won in 2006 and 2007.

    One final thing to remember is that a driver earns two points for out-qualifying a team mate and a further three for finishing ahead of them – and that's something Alonso has achieved every time this season in his battle with Stoffel Vandoorne.

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    Have you signed up yet?

    To start playing Fantasy F1, simply click here to create your team – and remember you can make changes to your line-up at any time up to the selection deadline, which is the start of qualifying in Monte Carlo on Saturday. And don't forget, there are a host of exclusive prizes on offer for the winners!

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