Formula 1 will return from its one week off to race for the first time in Australia since the 2020 season was postponed due to COVID. Over the last two years, Albert Park, where the Australian Grand Prix is raced, has gone under massive changes since its last race in 2019. The track is a street circuit that has been widened as well as the course got a new resurfacing. The improvements were made to target more overtaking opportunities. Since this is our first instance of F1 Fantasy at Albert Park, we’ll need to take a close look at how we should be aligning our plays for DraftKings DFS Formula One racing lineups.
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DraftKings F1 Fantasy & DFS Racing Preview
Heineken Australian Grand Prix
- Track: Albert Park
- Location: Melbourne, Australia
- Length: 3.28 miles (0.016 miles shorter than previously)
- Race Distance: 58 laps
- Laps lead: 5 points
- Fastest lap: 3 points
- Past Winner: Valtterri Bottas (2019)
- Betting Favorite: Max Verstappen (+120)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Because the race is Australia, the times will be very different for North American fans.
- Thursday, April 7
- 11 p.m.: Free Practice 1
- Friday, April 8
- 2 a.m.: Free Practice 2
- 11 p.m.: Free Practice 3
- Saturday, April 9
- 2 a.m.: Qualifying
- Sunday, April 10
- 1 a.m.: Lights out
F1 Fantasy Preview for Heineken Australian Grand Prix
These are the make or break parts of the schedule for teams. Just like bye weeks in the NFL, these weeks off are very important to teams who are working on improving their car’s performance. I am expecting many teams to bring upgrades to their car after seeing more results and data from the first two races of the season.
DraftKings has done us a favor this week as they released the prices very early, which will give a massive advantage to F1 DFS players who pay attention to Free Practice times. With that in mind, we could get some heavy chalk this week after qualifying.
While we know that this track is going to be a little different and a little shorter, and the cars are going to be much more closer in competition than we have been used to over the last couple years, it can still be helpful to see how helpful pole position has been in determining a race winner.
In 2019, the last time there was a race in Australia, Valtteri Bottas won the race after starting in second place behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton. In 2018, Sebastian Vettel took the checkered flag after starting in third place. While in 2017 we had Vettel start in second place, behind Lewis Hamilton, and once again he took home the win.
Bear in mind, this was a very different time for Sebastian Vettel with a much different car. He was able to challenge for podiums in those three years, but has since dropped off the pace and is jumping into a car this week that has not recorded any points this season.
Once again, stacking a top driver and their Constructor team was the play, as the optimal F1 Fantasy lineup had Verstappen at the Captain spot and Red Bull in the Constructors. It is a theme that should play out in almost every race. With the Red Bull’s finishing first and fourth, it made rostering the Red Bull constructor team a great combo.
While it may have been the optimal lineup, the Ferrari Constructor team actually scored three more points than the Red Bull, but because the Ferrari was $1,000 more, it came down to pricing for the top score.
DraftKings F1 DFS Picks
This week we see Max Verstappen back on top at the most expensive driver at $10,800. This is a major step back in driver pricing as there has always been a driver listed above $11,600 on each of the two previous races. What DraftKings has decided to do now is to raise the two top Constructors teams, Ferrari and Red Bull to over $11,000 each while creating a $2,000-plus gap between them and Mercedes.
We still have our under-$4,000 value plays, but we will be getting back F1 great, Sebastian Vettel ($3,600), after missing the first two races of the season. It was announced earlier this week that Vettel has recovered and was cleared to race. Missing two weeks is very crucial early in the season, especially when you haven’t already gotten a lot of time in the car to work with different set ups. I have a feeling I will be heavily on one of the Aston Martin racers on Sunday as I expect this team to bring some decent upgrades to Australia after their awful start to the season.
The Aston Martin drivers are lumped in with my weekly favorite value play, Alex Albon ($3,400). Albon and the Williams team have scored exactly 0 points, the same as the Aston Martin drivers, but we are not expecting any placement points for these drivers. They make their bread and butter based on simply earning their 5 points for beating their teammate and finishing at least 90% of the race, which is exactly what Alex Albon has done in consecutive weeks. If Albon and Lance Stroll wouldn’t have collided in the late laps of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix I would have had the optimal lineup.
The middle of the pack is where things start to get clustered. The DraftKings F1 pricing has decided to separate drivers by increments of $200-$400, so lineup construction will be interesting as pricing may lead to many great pivot spots. If we want to run a Leclerc/Ferrari or a Verstappen/Red Bull stack this week, it will leave us with an average around $5,675 for each driver. Throwing in the most expensive Aston Martin and Williams drivers, we then have $15,700-$15,800 left over for our last two spots. Things are definitely going to get interesting at a course, which has seen some pretty sizable changes in the last couple of years.
Qualifying is important for predicting podiums, so keeping track of the free practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday provide a good feel for what to expect out on the circuit come race day. As always, our DraftKings F1 lineup picks segment will be out after Qualifying as well as our DFS projections which will be updated throughout the week.
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