Formula 1 DFS Picks and Heineken Grand Prix of Sao Paulo Preview

Formula 1 DFS Picks and Heineken Grand Prix of Sao Paulo Preview

Heineken Grande Premio de Sao Paulo

Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Course: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Course Length: 4.31km
Laps: 71

Grand Prix of Sao Paulo Race Preview

Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen show no signs of letting up after securing the 2022 constructor's and driver's titles. Verstappen, now set to be crowned a two-time series champion, showed no mercy in Mexico and stormed to another dominant victory after starting from pole. With second-place in the driver's championship yet to be decided, Sergio Perez needs to continue outperforming Ferrari's Charles Leclerc. Perez grabbed a third-place finish at Mexico to give himself a five-point advantage over Leclerc with two races remaining. His job is getting harder, though. Mercedes AMG Petronas brought their final round of updates to the cars, which propelled Lewis Hamilton and George Russell into the midst of the battle for second in the championship. The Mercedes duo took second- and fourth-place finishes at Mexico, taking valuable points from both Perez and Leclerc. Hamilton is the defending race winner this weekend with three total wins at the track. Verstappen's lone Sao Paulo win came in 2019. Drivers and teams face the final sprint-race format of the season this week, and the potential for rain throughout the race weekend will keep everyone on their toes.

Key Stats at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace

  • Races: 38
  • Winners from pole: 16
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 33
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 38
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 0
  • Fastest race: 210.627 kph

Previous 10 Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace Winners

2021 - Lewis Hamilton
2019 - Max Verstappen
2018 - Lewis Hamilton
2017 - Sebastian Vettel
2016 - Lewis Hamilton
2015 - Nico Rosberg
2014 - Nico Rosberg
2013 - Sebastian Vettel
2012 - Jenson Button
2011 - Mark Webber

Formula 1 heads to Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace this week, a familiar venue to the competitors. The track has hosted 38 series races dating back to 1973. It features a mix of high- and medium-speed corners, and tends to be easier on tires than some other circuits on the schedule. Last year's winning strategy was a two-stop run from Lewis Hamilton after he was assessed a five-place grid penalty for using too many engines. This race is no stranger to rain either. Wet weather is in the forecast for this weekend with the greatest chances coming Saturday and Sunday for the sprint and actual race. While rain would dictate tire choice, Pirelli is bringing the medium range of compounds for dry weather, and those compounds can be sensitive to track temperature.  The possibility of a wet surface, and the varying temperatures that come along with it, could make pit strategy a difficult choice on Sunday. For these reasons, teams will be working to qualify well on Friday to give them track position they can maintain for the rest of the weekend. The circuit does have multiple passing opportunities, though. One of the best is at the end of the long front straight into turn 1. Drivers can use the drag reduction systems to close in and pop out of line to make a move under braking there. If they can't get the pass completed there they get another opportunity shortly thereafter into turn 4. 

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS for the Grand Prix of Sao Paulo (Based on Standard $50k Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Max Verstappen - $13,800
Charles Leclerc - $10,800
Lewis Hamilton - $10,600

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

George Russell - $9,800
Sergio Perez - $9,400
Carlos Sainz Jr. - $8,600

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Lando Norris - $7,600
Fernando Alonso - $7,200
Pierre Gasly - $5,000

DraftKings Constructor Values

Red Bull Racing - $12,900
Mercedes - $10,900
McLaren - $5,800
Alpine - $5,300

Formula 1 DFS Picks for the Grand Prix of Sao Paulo

Team Captain - Max Verstappen - $20,700
Sergio Perez - $9,400
Daniel Ricciardo - $5,200
Pierre Gasly - $5,000
Alex Albon - $4,400
Constructor - Alpine F1 Team - $5,300

Verstappen continues to make it very hard for fantasy players not to select him as captain. He has had a dominant 2022 season once the car's teething problems were resolved, and it is clear that he is aiming to win the remaining races of the season, too. While weather could make things more interesting, it doesn't seem likely that Verstappen will be challenged for dominance and therefore makes a logical choice for team captain this week. Verstappen's push to win leaves Perez to fend for himself as he seeks second in the championship standings. Perez finished ahead of Leclerc in this race last season. While Mercedes will be another factor in that battle this week, fantasy players should still feel reasonably confident Perez will be in the mix for a podium finish. Another fight raging in the constructor's standings is between McLaren and Alpine as they battle for fourth. Daniel Ricciardo has had trouble adapting to this season's car and will be leaving the team at the end of the season. That doesn't mean he will be giving up, though. Ricciardo has won races and could still do much to boost McLaren's bid for fourth in the championship. He exited last year's race at Brazil with engine trouble, but he does have five top-10s from 10 starts at the track. Pierre Gasly has been battling on the edge of the top 10 all season. He faces an interesting situation with penalty points accumulating on his license, which could eventually mean a one-race ban. He may be more mindful in certain situations on track due to that situation, but that could also play to his benefit be ensuring he safely finds his way to the finish. If he does, he is likely to be among the top-10 finishers. If things go well, Alex Albon could also find himself in contention for the top 10. He has been the leader at Williams Racing throughout the season and finished 12th in the last two races. Fantasy players should at least expect that again at Brazil, but a top-10 isn't out of the question either. Finally, due to the battle for fourth in the constructor's standings, it could be a good time to choose Alpine F1 Team. One or both Alpine drivers have been in the mix for points all season. The team took the fourth position back from McLaren and will be working to extend their seven-point advantage this week.

Formula 1 Betting Picks for the Grand Prix of Sao Paulo (Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook)

Race Winner - Lewis Hamilton +700
Winning Constructor - Mercedes +400
Winning Margin - Over 10 seconds +125
Fastest Lap - Lewis Hamilton +800
Safety Car - No +175

While Verstappen may be the favorite to win Sunday, Lewis Hamilton could pose a threat. Mercedes has been excellent at choosing the fastest pit strategy, which could put Hamilton in front to defend at the end. That scenario would support their stated goal of winning a race before the end of the season, and it could be within their reach given their recent car upgrades. For the same reason Mercedes makes a nice play for the constructor's race win. George Russell backed up Hamilton's second-place finish in Mexico with a fourth-place run of his own, and the team is as close to victory now as they have been all season. The odds for Mercedes to pull it off offer a much better return than Red Bull or Ferrari, too.

Given the weather situation for the weekend, those looking to play the finishing margin might want to go with greater than 10 seconds. First, Red Bull could pull away to a significant lead in the dry. That would be a typical expectation. However, if it rains, that margin is likely to increase even further. Verstappen has amassed significant leads in the wet at times this season already. So, choosing the greater finishing margin could be a bargain play this week. Just as rain may help make the margin of victory a wide one, it could also offer Hamilton a chance to snag that honor. He knows this circuit well and is a master in the wet. His teammate took the fastest lap last week at Mexico, which is a strong indicator that Hamilton could be in the fight for it this week.

Safety cars have been a fixture of this season's races. The chances of needing one at Brazil increases if it rains, too. Those factors are why the odds of having one this race are -250. As with most races this season, it is still likely better to take the contrarian approach position and the larger payout that comes with it if the safety car stays in the garage for a change.

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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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