Formula 1 will return from its one week off to race at the Ferrari home course in Imola, Italy. This week is much different compared to regular F1 weeks as the starting grid on Sunday will be decided with a Sprint Qualifying Saturday. Formula 1 is stated to use the Sprint Qualifying six times this season, with the race at Imola as their first of the year. Since this is our first instance of F1 Fantasy with a Sprint Qualifying, we’ll need to take a close look at how we should be aligning our plays for DraftKings F1 DFS racing lineups.
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DraftKings F1 Fantasy & DFS Racing Preview
Imola Grand Prix
- Track: Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari
- Location: Imola, Italy
- Length: 3.050 miles
- Race Distance: 63 laps
- Laps lead: 6.3 points
- Fastest lap: 3 points
- Past Winner: Max Verstappen (2021)
- Betting Favorite: Charles Leclerc (+120)
On Track Schedule (All Times Eastern)
We are back in Europe this weekend so the times will be a little nicer for people on the East Coast in North America.
- Friday, April 22
- 7:30 a.m.: Free Practice 1
- 11:00 a.m.: Qualifying
- Saturday, April 23
- 6:30 a.m.: Free Practice 2
- 10:30 a.m.: Sprint Qualifying
- Sunday, April 24
- 9 a.m.: Lights out
F1 Fantasy Preview for Imola Grand Prix
This is the first race of the year that will incorporate a Sprint Qualifying on Saturday to decide Sunday’s starting grid. The race weekend is much different, as there won’t be the three Free Practice sessions, which we have been accustomed to, but instead one Free Practice, then a Qualifying session taking place on Friday, which will be the starting grid for the Sprint Qualifying Race on Saturday. Teams and drivers will also only get two true Free Practice sessions. The Sprint Qualifying on Saturday will be a massive event to watch as it can mean total chaos for some teams.
The Sprint Qualifying is just over 62 miles, which translates to around 21 laps at Imola. With another week off in between races, teams will continue to get time to work on their car and bring improvements back to Europe. The Sprint Qualifying can cause total chaos as any driver who gets into an accident or deals with car issues in the Sprint will be forced to start the Grand Prix on Sunday from the back. This means we could see a very interesting starting grid Sunday for the race.
This season has been dominated by Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s in qualifying, followed by the consistency of the Mercedes cars and drivers. Last year at Imola, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was able to take home the checkered flag after starting in third position on the grid.
DraftKings F1 DFS Picks
DraftKings continues to flatten out their pricing with the most expensive driver being Charles Leclerc at $11,000, followed by Verstappen at $10,400. With Verstappen seeing his car retired in two of the tree races, people may start to shy away from the top driver in 2021. DraftKings continues to seclude the Ferrari and Red Bull Constructor teams at $11,600 and $11,000, respectively, which creates a $2,000 gap between them and the $9,000 Mercedes team.
Last week, we saw our first case of the optimal Constructors team not being tied to the race winning driver. While we saw Leclerc win the Australian Grand Prix, the Mercedes constructors team was optimal as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen didn’t finish the race, while George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished in third and fourth.
At this point in the season, only Ferrari and Red Bull have had a chance at winning either race and unless something changes in Italy this weekend, it is a two-horse race with the edge given to the quicker and more consistent Ferrari cars.
While this is the first time it happened, it is something to keep in mind when building GPP lineups. For cash games and GPPs, I will still try and stack my captain driver with their constructor to maximize their ceiling potential for most of my lines.
I was worried that we would see some big price increases from Alex Albon, but luckily we still get our core value F1 DFS pick at a cheap $3,600. Albon was able to put up a mega 12-point score in Australia with a 10th-place finish after starting in 20th-place and beating his teammate. Albon will, once again, be a core F1 fantasy value play this weekend as he is clearly the superior driver between the Williams racers and is a heavy favorite to take home the coveted 5 DraftKings points for beating his teammate.
While Fernando Alonso’s finishes have not been anything to write home about, actually losing DraftKings points in two of his three races this season, it is only a matter of time until we see him unlock this car’s potential. He has been extremely fast in his qualifying times and the Alpine F1 racers of Alonso and Esteban Ocon may very well be the make or break mid-range value play this week.
If you’re able to watch the Sprint Qualifying on Saturday, I would highly recommend putting it on a screen as it will be as close to race conditions as we have seen all year. This Sprint will give us a great feel for what to expect on Sunday when lights go out. As always, our DraftKings F1 lineup picks segment will be out after the Sprint Qualifying as well as our F1 DFS projections which will be updated throughout the week.
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