This weekend, and for the first time since 1982, Formula 1 returns to Las Vegas. Alongside an action-packed schedule of motor sport-themed spectacle, racing in the Nevada desert comes with some major opportunities for F1 Fantasy players who are aiming to make a last-gasp leap up their league standings with the season drawing to a close.
A brand new 3.8-mile circuit will be the main attraction: its 17 corners and two DRS zones weaving around some of the city’s most famous landmarks and for 1.1 miles along The Strip. But with the cool weather possibly wreaking havoc on the cars and teams unable to fully simulate the newly-laid racing surface — with its bumps and bulges potentially catching drivers out — the true running order will unfold over the weekend.
With that in mind, F1 Fantasy players will need to be careful in who they select for their driver and constructor line-ups, with experience as well as adaptability possibly being the keys to success. Master of this is Lewis Hamilton who has a rare chance to add to his record for the most victories at different circuits (31). Although his Mercedes struggled for performance in Brazil, his upgraded W14 has powered him to two podium finishes in the past six races, which would have been three if he wasn’t disqualified at COTA
If you want to base your team around a more certain performer, Max Verstappen remains as the best yet most expensive choice. A clean sweep of sprint and Grand Prix victories in Brazil earned him another 45 F1 Fantasy points — adding to his astonishing 923 point total for the season — and catapulted him past his previous record for the most race wins in a single season (17). The Dutchman’s form has been unmatched, and few would bet against it continuing in Las Vegas. Unless…
Hamilton & Verstappen: victories on new circuits
|Total wins at different circuits
|F1 circuits raced
Across the season, Red Bull have been generally dominant but has had some of its toughest challenges on street circuits, where safety cars and even red flag restarts can jumble the running order. That combined with the resurgent performance of Lando Norris — who has quickly become of the best bang-for-your buck drivers on the grid — as well as Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda and even Daniel Ricciardo means there are plenty of chances to score big points throughout the field with a multitude of drivers.
Even if you aren’t getting on particularly well in your own league, the Las Vegas Grand Prix also offers a chance for F1 Fantasy players to get back on top with the “One-Hit Wonder League“, in which players can form a team to compete over a single race weekend to earn massive real-life prizes!
So no matter what position you’re in, getting your F1 Fantasy line-up right this weekend could be more important than ever.
Join the official Motor Sport F1 league
F1 Fantasy: How to tackle the Las Vegas GP
The Las Vegas Grand Prix may not only be the biggest spectacle of the season, but it is also the last remaining street race of the F1 calendar. Renowned for their unpredictability, street circuits throw up new challenges for the drivers with mistakes often punished by trackside walls, resulting in extra pitstops to fix damage or even critical DNFs. Throw in the fact that no racing series has ever driven the new Las Vegas circuit, and picking your F1 Fantasy line-up could become very tricky if you’re wanting to avoid big point deductions so late in the 2023 campaign.
Sergio Perez is often a prominent force on street circuits and has tallied only 19 fewer Fantasy points than the dominant Verstappen from races in Jeddah, Melbourne, Baku, Monaco and Singapore — all for $9.4m less! After a difficult period of form in the middle of the campaign — where he failed to score a single Q3 appearance in five consecutive races — the Mexican seems to be regaining some ground after a positive performance in Brazil, where he narrowly missed out on a much needed podium. With rumour still surrounding his Red Bull seat and second place in the drivers’ standings still under threat, a strong finish in Las Vegas could cement Perez’s position on the grid and earn F1 Fantasy players some critical points in the process.
If you’re wanting to make an even bigger gamble, you may also want to consider Fernando Alonso who has found Perez-esque performance on street circuits this year. Despite numerous price hikes, he still remains one of the best-value options the grid has to offer. While regular podium appearances are perhaps behind him — with Aston Martin choosing to focus development on next year’s car — the Spaniard proved in Brazil that he’s still able to pull out a brilliant performance. So if you’re looking to take a risk that could pay out big F1 Fantasy rewards, Alonso may be one of the keys to success.
F1 Fantasy — Best street circuit drivers
|Total points from street circuits
|Points per million
But even though F1 is racing in Las Vegas, gambling isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking to take a more sure-footed approach to the weekend, Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are arguably your best choices. Not only have both drivers performed considerably well on street circuits in the past, but they have also shared four of the last six podiums together, indicating an ability to succeed no matter what F1 venue they’re at.
For $20m, Norris is obviously the cheaper and better ‘bang-for-your-buck’ option and on an unknown circuit such as Las Vegas, one Red Bull slip up or uncharacteristic mistake from Verstappen could result in the Briton’s first F1 victory. If you want to cover all the bases, having both front-runners in your team for just $49.9m could be a good idea too.
Away from the podium contenders, F1’s newest racing venue could offer many overtaking opportunities with long straights ended by tight turns with heavy braking zones — meaning there is potential value in having many midfield drivers within your team. Yuki Tsunoda has becomes the grid’s new ‘master overtaker’ after incredible performances in Mexico City and Brazil, where he earned a combined total of 35 points from passing manoeuvres and positions gained — the most of anyone on the grid aside from Norris. For $8.9m, the Japanese driver would be a cheap way to round out your driver line-up — especially if you’ve picked up the likes of Verstappen, Perez or Hamilton already — with Kevin Magnussen, Zhou Guanyu and Oscar Piastri acting as great alternatives.
F1 Fantasy is hopping on the Las Vegas hype train this weekend, with a “One-Hit Wonder League” designed to give players a one-off opportunity to win race-themed prizes and even a pair of 2024 Las Vegas Grand Prix tickets.
You can select up to three of your pre-existing teams to compete in the league, which uses an identical scoring system to the one that has been used all season.
The prizes will be awarded to the league’s highest scoring players, and if there are multiple players on level points the player with the highest scoring DRS Boost driver will be deemed to be higher placed. If players remain tied, the highest placed player shall be determined by way of random draw.
Should you still have your Auto Pilot Chip, the Las Vegas mini-league may be the perfect and last chance for you to use it to its full effect. When activated, the chip will automatically reward your top-scoring driver with a DRS Boost, overriding the manual selection you made ahead of the weekend. With so much still unknown about the track and how the cars and drivers will react, the Auto Pilot Chip acts as a type of insurance policy: ensuring you’ll score good points — as long as you pick the right drivers.
The league is now live for players to join.
Some eagle-eyed fans may have spotted a new tab at the bottom right-hand corner of the F1 app – dedicated to all things F1 Fantasy. Making critical late changes to your line-up is now easier than ever, with push notifications altering you to the start of qualifying, race sessions and the team lock deadline. Handy information on the statistics page could also prove useful in finding hidden gems, as well as details on how to play and game rules.