FANTASY FOCUS: Who should be in your team for Brazil?

Staff Writer

Matt Maltby
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team on the drivers parade at Formula One World Championship,

Sixteen Fantasy F1 rounds down, two to go – and next on the agenda is Brazil’s iconic Interlagos, which hosts the penultimate round of the 2018 Formula 1 season. So are you ready for one last push for glory? Don’t fret if you’re yet to finalise your team – we’ve dug out the best stats to give you a helping hand…

History repeats for Red Bull in Mexico…

Could it have got any better for Max Verstappen in Mexico? Well perhaps, with the Dutchman ‘super angry’ after missing out on pole, but he bounced back in emphatic fashion by securing a fifth career victory.

It proved to be a case of deja vu for Red Bull, with Verstappen winning again while mechanical issues cost Daniel Ricciardo with another DNF – the second time in a row the Milton Keynes squad have suffered that fate at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Savvy team owners who had Verstappen in their sides for Mexico may want to consider keeping him in this weekend. He finished fifth in Brazil last year, but it was his memorable third place in the rain of 2016 that perhaps stands out for racing fans.

As for his team mate, Ricciardo’s frustration continued in Mexico with yet another DNF – the pole position was the only thing separating him from a seventh negative points score this season. The Australian, however, still remains the sixth highest points scorer in the game (with 194 points) and will look to finish on a high before he departs to Renault.

AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ, MEXICO - OCTOBER 28: Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, 1st position,

Williams making gains…

It’s not where you start that matters in Formula 1, right? Williams certainly proved that in Mexico, with both their drivers making up at least five places during the Grand Prix and finishing with respectable results.

Ten of the 12 points Sergey Sirotkin scored were due to him maximising his positions gained bonus (starting 19th, and coming home in 13th), the Russian rookie enjoying his third best result of the Fantasy F1 season.

In the sister FW41, Lance Stroll unlocked the same +10 points bonus (starting 17th, finishing 12th), and by also winning both the qualifying and race battle with his team mate, the Canadian scored a season high 17 points. It seems the Grove outfit are finally beginning to enjoy some success after a tough season.

AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ, MEXICO - OCTOBER 28: Sergey Sirotkin, Williams FW41, leads Pierre

Hulk delivers…

To the delight of fantasy owners who have shown faith in Nico Hulkenberg recently, the Renault driver has found some form again and delivered a string of consistent results.

Twenty three points in Austin saw him become the third most popular driver to be added to fantasy teams ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix - and the stats suggested he would perform, given his recent success at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

For those owners it was a wise transfer as he finished best of the rest in Mexico, repeating that 23-point tally, and that would have been doubled to 46 had you picked him as your Turbo Driver.

Looking ahead to Brazil, he has a 100 percent point-scoring record in seven starts at Interlagos, with P5 in 2012 being his best, while he also secured a shock pole position for Williams here in 2010.

Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18 at Formula One World Championship, Rd19, Mexican

The unfortunate ones in Mexico…

Ricciardo wasn’t the only one to suffer disappointment in Mexico. In fact the Australian was one of four men to retire from the race, with Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez joining the Red Bull driver.

Alonso’s race ended after a piece of Esteban Ocon’s front wing got wedged under his McLaren, leaving him with -11 Fantasy F1 points after Week 16, while fellow Spaniard Sainz’s DNF meant he left Mexico City on -9.

For Perez, it also proved to be a heartbreaking finale to his home event. The Mexican favourite was left to dwell on a -13 Fantasy F1 points haul after retiring from a race for only the third time in the last 68 Grands Prix.

Streak watch…

Right, that’s enough of Mexico catch-up - let's look ahead to Brazil! Unfortunately there’s not much to tell you in terms of our latest ‘streak watch’, with the only streak active for Brazil being the Mercedes team qualifying streak (they’ll notch +5 points if both drivers reach Q3).

But forward planners might like to know that Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is the only driver who could unlock a 10-point streak in Abu Dhabi (provided he finishes in the top 10 in both of the remaining races). Similarly Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton could get a five-point qualifying bonus in Abu Dhabi if he keeps his streak alive at Interlagos.

So plenty of food for thought going into the final two races of the season…


Championship-clinching Hamilton…

It’s hard to find fault with Hamilton, after the Mercedes star made history in Mexico by becoming only the third driver to win five Formula 1 world championships.

For those looking for one small detail of underperformance, it’s been the Briton’s record in races after he’s been confirmed as champion (this year was the third time he’s secured the title before the final Grand Prix of the season).

It’s mighty churlish, but the fact i, he hasn’t won a race after being named world champion in that season (in 2015 after winning with three races to spare and last year with two races remaining).

And not that we want to play down his racing prowess, with the numbers proving why he is a deserved five-time world champion, but he hasn’t had much luck in Brazil over the years – winning just once…

AUTODROMO HERMANOS RODRIGUEZ, MEXICO - OCTOBER 28: Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates with

All eyes on the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers…

Hamilton may have wrapped up the title, but this year’s constructors’ crown is still to be decided - so expect the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers to be on the pace at Interlagos.

Vettel won in Brazil last year and has topped the podium twice before in 2013 and 2010, while team mate Kimi Raikkonen clinched the title with a win here back in 2007 – denying Hamilton the championship crown in what was his first season in F1.

Hamilton’s sole Brazilin GP win came back in 2016, which was also the only time in the last five years that he’s out-qualified a team mate at Interlagos. Speaking of his partner, Valtteri Bottas was second to Vettel last year and in 2015 he brought his Williams home in third place.

So there’s all to play for. Expect the Ferraris to be pumped, with the Prancing Horse knowing they must outscore their Silver Arrow rivals by 13 points if they are to keep the title tussle alive heading to the season finale in Abu Dhabi...

Giuseppe Vietina (ITA) Ferrari Chief Mechanic, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1, race winner

It's not too late to sign up...

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 Brazil on Saturday. And don't forget, there are a host of exclusive prizes on offer for the winner.



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