F1 Fantasy 2022: Imola GP

F1's is back this weekend and so too is Stephen Clibbon's F1 Fantasy preview! Our resident F1 fanatic looks ahead to the fourth race of the season - the Imola Grand Prix - and shares his top tips for the weekend.

Stephen Clibbon

It’s F1 Fantasy time again as we head to Italy this weekend for the Imola Grand Prix.

Round Four sees us head to Europe for the first time in the 2022 calendar and also the first sprint race weekend of the season. With it being a sprint race weekend, this is the first reminder that teams will be chosen before the start of qualifying.

If you are new to F1 don’t worry, sprint races are fairly new, too. Sprint races were only introduced to F1 last year. Last year, we saw three sprint races as a way to increase the action for fans over the whole weekend.

These went down with a mixed reaction from F1 fans around the world but most importantly caused headaches for F1 fantasy teams.

2GHX3WP Sebastian Vettel (GER) Aston Martin F1 Team AMR21.
18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola, Italy, Race Day.
Photo credit should read: XPB/Press Association Images.

So how does an F1 sprint race weekend look like?

When we have a sprint race weekend it means the teams will lose one practice session; this means the teams will only get two free sessions where there will be nothing at stake for them, but they will have only one to prepare the cars before the qualifying action will begin.

Late Friday afternoon is when we will see qualifying in its traditional format with the teams having a practice session earlier in the day. This qualifying session will set the grid for the Sprint Race which will take place the follow day on Saturday afternoon.

There’ll be far more at stake in this year’s sprint races, with points being awarded to the top eight drivers (previously it was the top three).

The driver who takes P1 will now receive a more lucrative eight points, rather than three, with a sliding scale down to one point for eighth place. Wherever you finish in the sprint race on Saturday will be your starting position for the main showdown race on Sunday.

So how does a sprint race weekend affect F1 Fantasy manager?

Well firstly, as I may have mentioned before, you will need to have your final team set before qualifying takes place on the Friday afternoon.

Do not get caught out if you are wanting to make changes to your team, but these sprint weekends also mean your drivers will have three chances to earn you points.

The normal points will be applied for both qualifying and the Sunday race as explained at the start of the season, but the sprint race gives your drivers a third chance to get points.

The points for the sprint race are very similar to those on Sunday’s race, just at a reduced value and the bonus points will be given to the top 10 finishes as well.

With the extra points on display over sprint race weekends, these GPs can be good times to play your mega drivers. If you’d manage to pick the driver who qualifies on pole and wins both races, your scores would sky rocket!

However, with that being said, scoring streaks being activated are just around the corner as well.

If you could save your mega driver and hit a driver who performs well over a sprint race weekend and hits his streak in the same weekend, your friends and league really will not know what has hit them.

Trying this would leave you putting all your eggs in the Austrian GP basket as that is the only other race that will be in the first half of the season where a driver could also be looking to hit his streak points also.

An issue this sprint weekend does bring for teams is the lack of practice time should they be wanting to add upgrades to their cars this weekend.

Will teams and drivers already doing well want to take risks of an upgrade, affecting their cars without enough testing time?

Could a struggling team take that risk and see a massive improvement on the teams ahead who have decided to wait on adding their upgrades to their car that will start qualifying?

These are big gambles for drivers and team principals to take this weekend.

Mercedes could take a gamble and apply upgrades they have to close the gap to the cars ahead, but at the same time would not want to risk their consistent start, so this could see them splitting their cars and applying upgrades to only one.

Can you leave Max Verstappen or Red Bull in your team currently?

A lot of F1 Fantasy owners will have this headache right now; both the driver and the constructors cost a lot of money to have in your team but they seem to be having a lot of reliability issues that have led Max to only one race finish so far this season.

That is a lot of points down the drain for owners of either or both! However, the pace and performance when it is running will run Leclerc all the way, but they need to get on top of these issues.

I believe – although I said this last race – that they will have most of these issues under wrap now but this could be an issue for Max owners to fully trust him with the extra points on the table this week.

Three races into our very first FansBet blog F1 Fantasy League, we have David R leading the way with 753 points but he has already used his first Mega driver of the season.

In second place currently is Fakhry A with 658 points and Charlie G rounds off our top three with 654 points to his name.

Will this be the week you play your Mega Driver with the first extra points of the season up for grabs? Let us know how are you getting on so far in these season F1 and if the Imola GP is where you will be playing your Mega Driver.

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