DFS Formula 1: Heineken Australian Grand Prix

DFS Formula 1: Heineken Australian Grand Prix

Heineken Australian Grand Prix

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Course: Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit
Course Length: 5.28km
Laps: 58

Race Preview

Max Verstappen outfoxed Charles Leclerc in Saudi Arabia to spring back with a victory after his disappointing Bahrain retirement. After two races, Leclerc and his Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. sit first and second in the championship standings with Verstappen third due to having not scored any points in Bahrain. Despite the points difference, Leclerc and Verstappen are quickly establishing themselves as the primary championship contenders. However, Mercedes teammates George Russell and Lewis Hamilton sit waiting to pounce once they overcome teething issues with the new car. Ferrari and Red Bull are expected to be neck and neck again this week for Formula 1's return to Melbourne after a two-year hiatus, though it appears Ferrari have a better early-season handle on their car, especially with tire wear. 

Key Stats at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit

  • Races: 24
  • Winners from pole: 9
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 21
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 23
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 0
  • Fastest race: 219.011 kph

Previous 10 Melbourne Winners

2019 - Valtteri Bottas
2018 - Sebastian Vettel
2017 - Sebastian Vettel
2016 - Nico Rosberg
2015 - Lewis Hamilton
2014 - Nico Rosberg
2013 - Kimi Raikkonen
2012 - Jenson Button
2011 - Sebastian Vettel
2010 - Jenson Button

This week's trip to Australia will be the first time Formula 1 raced in Melbourne in two years after the global pandemic forced the stop off of the calendar. A lot has changed since Valtteri Bottas won at the track in 2019 in his Mercedes, however. The track uses public roads and has seen limited changes over its 24-race history as a result. This season, though, the teams not only have a new car, but the track has seen many upgrades, too. The layout has been enhanced to offer more passing opportunities, and pit lane has been widened, which could alter pit strategy as teams get in and out of it faster than in years prior. Many of the track's turns have been widened in an effort to reduce single-file racing, and a chicane was removed to enhance drafting opportunities into the new-look turn 11. The track also sports a new surface for the first time since Formula 1 first visited. All told, the enhancements are designed to increase overtaking opportunities, and lap times are expected to drop multiple seconds versus prior seasons.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Max Verstappen - $16,200
Charles Leclerc - $15,900
Carlos Sainz Jr. - $14,700

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Pierre Gasly - $11,100
Lando Norris - $9,600
Fernando Alonso - $8,700

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Daniel Ricciardo - $7,800
Zhou Guanyu - $6,600
Sebastian Vettel - $5,400

DraftKings Constructor Values

Ferrari - $11,400
Red Bull Racing - $11,000
Alpine F1 Team - $7,000

My Picks

Team Captain - Charles Leclerc - $15,900
Zhou Guanyu - $6,600
Yuki Tsunoda - $6,000
Sebastian Vettel - $5,400
Alex Albon - $5,100
Constructor - Red Bull - $11,000

It has quickly become apparent that the early-season battle for victories is down to Verstappen and Leclerc. Since Ferrari has a better handle on tire management with Mebourne's new surface, we are going with Leclerc as the team captain this week. His choice forces us deeper into the field to fill out the team, with Zhou Guanyu and Yuki Tsunoda getting the nod. Tsunoda is on equal footing on points with teammate Pierre Gasly after two races, while Zhou is in the powerful Alfa Romeo. Anti-stall issues have clouded Zhou's true ability, but Alfa Romeo claims to have the issue solved for Australia. Sebastian Vettel returns to action this week after missing the first two races with Covid. The Aston Martins have been off the pace, but Vettel's experience should pull them forward with his return. The final driver selection is Alex Albon, who picked up a 13th-place finish in Bahrain. Constructor choice Red Bull is slightly more economical this week than Ferrari but offers similar potential.

Best Bets (Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)

Race Winner - Charles Leclerc +145, Carlos Sainz Jr. +850
Winning Constructor - Ferrari +100, Red Bull Racing +105
Winning Margin - Under 5 seconds +145
Fastest Lap - Charles Leclerc +165
Safety Car - No +150

The heavy favorites to win this week will again be Verstappen and Leclerc, but should those drivers encounter any trouble, Sainz will likely be there to pick up the pieces. Sainz has finished on the podium in both races so far this year. Similarly, the odds for the winning constructor are nearly even between Red Bull and Ferrari, with Red Bull getting a very slight premium. Not since 2015 has the winning margin at Melbourne been less than five seconds, but with a modified circuit and the tight battle between Ferrari and Red Bull so far this season, it seems like that trend could change this week. Those willing to take Leclerc for the fastest lap will see a better return on their choice than Verstappen. They can also can take comfort in knowing he collected fastest lap points at both races so far this year. While both races this season have seen safety cars so far, this race has gone caution-free in two of its last three appearances. The current-season trends are against a safety car appearance, but odds are more attractive for those betting it stays green for the distance.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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