A new Formula 1 season is upon us and that means the return of Official Daily Fantasy contests for each Grand Prix weekend in 2019.
This is your chance to win cash prizes by creating a dream team and playing in a real-money contest, or challenging friends in one-on-one or group games.
To give you a heads up – and a little advantage, too – I’ve compiled this guide on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to getting it right with your Daily Fantasy F1 team.
Each team begins with a $100m budget and is made up of five drivers plus one constructor from the current F1 grid. Each driver and team has their own monetary value.
These values will change race-to-race based on performance, so what may have been within the budget at one race might not for the next one. It also means you might be able to “buy low” on a driver from one race to another.
A player can create as many teams as they wish. Changes are unlimited until the deadline for each contest, which is when the Qualifying or Grand Prix begins.
After that, it’s a case of watching your team score points based off the real-world results all the way up the chequered flag.
Points are awarded to each driver for qualifying performance through the different segments, which the top 10 receiving a bonus based on their position.
The head-to-head against their teammate is also considered and can be a factor to consider.
In the races, the top 10 receive the same points as in the real F1 championship (1st = 25 to 10th = 1) with bonuses given and taken away for relative position compared to the start, retirements and comparison to their teammate.
When everything is totaled up, the daily fantasy player with the most points in the contest wins the pot!
How to build your team
The key to building a strong daily fantasy team is to maximize the value of your lineup.
Obviously, with only $100m at your disposal it’s not going to be possible to choose every top driver. The selection of a constructor is crucial too. Therefore, what you have to decide is what portion of that budget is going to be given to the big names.
These prices can change from race-to-race, but since you’re able to pick a fresh team for each daily fantasy contest, it makes it a lot easier to create a squad you’re happy with.
Currently, there are three teams which can be expected to fill the top six places at every race: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. For me the best balance often comes from designating $75m to these teams, which can be two drivers plus one constructor.
This then leaves $25m for a strong midfield driver and two lesser value picks.
For the daily fantasy game, you also have the ability to be more race-specific, by choosing drivers and teams that often excel at certain circuits.
For example, Racing Point goes well at high-speed venues like Baku, Spa and Monza, while Renault does well at technical tracks such as Budapest and Hockenheim.
Another approach is to predict the expected race winner and his team, which often amounts to the same $60m then make up with stronger midfield drivers.
For this year, this would open the way to the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez, all of whom will often have the edge over their teammates and finish in the top 10.
If done correctly, their points can make up for splashing the extra budget on a Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes, providing of course they do win!
Another tip is to weigh up whether to include a lead driver for a team versus the overall team performance.
This works all throughout the grid and is where the real experts will gain an advantage.
Basically, within each team it is common that momentum or strategy or simply talent will favour one driver over the other.
However, the lesser driver can often be of better value if the team he races for finishes ahead.
For example, Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes is often behind Hamilton, but because he drives a Mercedes he’s still guaranteed at worst a sixth place finish most races.
Those points alone would see him generate more than most midfield teams yet because he’s behind Lewis, most won’t choose him.
In the midfield too, a driver like Alfa Romeo rookie Antonio Giovinazzi may be blown away by Raikkonen on the track, but because Alfa has a stronger car that may still put him ahead of the likes of McLaren, Toro Rosso and Williams.
Our team for Australia
With the above tips in mind, here’s how I would approach the first race in Australia next week.
There are obviously a lot of unknowns to begin a new season, so safety is the best policy.
We know that Ferrari and Mercedes will still be the top two teams and we know that Vettel has won this race the past two years.
So Vettel will be included, as will Ferrari, because it is thought that with Charles Leclerc now alongside the German, they will be a stronger pairing than Hamilton and Bottas.
Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen are considered to be the top midfield drivers regardless of their teams so both should be included.
This then leaves enough funds for two steady hands which, in our case would be Sergio Perez and Romain Grosjean.
That’s my team. Who are you selecting in yours? Head to the Daily Fantasy F1 contest lobby now and pick your team.