The opening round of the new Formula 1 season is finally upon us with the Australian Grand Prix.
With new rules and a number of driver changes for 2019, this is one of the most anticipated opening rounds in quite some time because of the number of unknowns
That being said, I’m going to break down the race to try to predict the unpredictable and help you with your daily fantasy teams.
About the race
Held on the streets around Melbourne’s Albert Park, this venue has become synonymous as the first stop on the calendar having only given up the position twice since 1996.
The circuit itself offers a solid challenge to begin the year with a technical layout made up of slow, medium and high-speed turns.
It is also quite unique for a non-permanent circuit in that it has no hairpins and features a thrilling section through Turns 11 and 12, a 150mph left, right chicane.
Like a street track though, overtaking is notoriously difficult with only Turns 3 and 13 offering a reasonable chance to make a pass.
Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari head Down Under looking for what would be a third straight win in Melbourne, having inflicted defeats on Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes the past two years.
But this is a race where you expect the unexpected, with a history of high attrition and spectacular crashes, just ask Fernando Alonso, Ralf Schumacher and Martin Brundle.
As a guide for the rest of the year, Australia also has a mixed history. Michael Schumacher won four times for Ferrari during his era of domination while Jenson Button began the Brawn GP fairytale with a win in 2009.
Overall, 13 of the previous 23 winners at Albert Park have gone on to win the championship.
Will that happen again in 2019? Who knows! But here are the drivers I’m following most closely in Australia.
High-priced pick: Sebastian Vettel ($27.5m)
Vettel’s recent success in Australia has already been mentioned, and with seemingly the best car too based on pre-season, he is the obvious big money choice for your team.
Lewis Hamilton will always put up a fight, and there are the unknowns of Red Bull and new Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.
But, with a trouble-free weekend, the sense is very little can stop the German making it three-in-a-row in Melbourne.
Mid-priced pick: Daniel Ricciardo ($12m)
Ricciardo’s first race for Renault also happens to be his home race, meaning the Australian will be a force to be reckoned with at Albert Park.
Leading F1’s midfield is a minimum expectation, but possibly putting the likes of Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas in his sights shouldn’t be ruled out either.
Value pick: McLaren ($7.4m)
McLaren starts the year having enjoyed a much more productive pre-season in 2019, showing signs of progress that will bring them back into the heart of the midfield.
The team has a strong record too in Australia, finishing fifth last year with Fernando Alonso.
In Carlos Sainz, McLaren has another steady hand to lead them forward while, hopefully, Lando Norris can make a strong impact on his F1 debut
Notable pick: Romain Grosjean ($9.3m)
Haas is another team expected to fly under the radar this weekend and likely join Ricciardo and Renault in leading the midfield.
Romain Grosjean also has a very good record in Australia, having scored two consecutive top-six finishes in 2016 and 2017.
He would have had another had it not been for a botched pit-stop last year, and while consistency can be a problem, in Melbourne he is somewhat of a specialist.
That’s who I’m locking into my lineup for the Australian Grand Prix. Who are you picking in yours? Head to the Lobby now to join an Official Daily Fantasy F1 contest and play for your share of thousands in guaranteed cash prizes, including entries into the $25,000 F1 SuperContest.