F1 DFS Picks and Preview: STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

F1 DFS Picks and Preview: STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 

Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Course: Jeddah Corniche Circuit 
Course Length: 6.17 KM 
Laps: 50

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Race Preview

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be the second race on the schedule for the third consecutive year, though  March 9 will be the earliest in the calendar it has taken place. It will serve as the next step in setting the trajectory of the season. There's little indication that Red Bull will have its dominance truly challenged, but the running order behind Max Verstappen is unclear. Ferrari and Mercedes both have reason for optimism after the first race of the season at Bahrain. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr. finished third and fourth in the opening race, and Sainz ran a promising second stint on the hard tires that matched Sergio Perez in the Red Bull. George Russell qualified third and very well could have challenged for a podium had he not dealt with overheating issues. McLaren and Aston Martin appear to be the best of the rest of the top group, but it's far too early to declare that definitively.

One thing that does appear safe to say is that Alpine is as poor on pace as feared after preseason testing. They are very likely to be the slowest team in pure pace for the foreseeable future.

Moving back up the grid from the French team again brings some ambiguity. The newly rebranded Kick Sauber showed solid race pace and boasts a pair of steady hands in Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. Team RB could be the next contender in the midfield, but there will be volatility in their driver pairing. That was already displayed in Bahrain and became a topic throughout the week after Yuki Tsunonda made his feelings quite apparent when given team orders to flip spots with Daniel Ricciardo late in the race.

Key Stats at Jeddah Corniche Circuit

  • Races: 3
  • Winners from pole: 2
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 2
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 3

Previous Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Winners

2023- Sergio Perez 
2022 – Max Verstappen
2021 - Lewis Hamilton

Another reason we don't want to draw too many conclusions from Bahrain is that we're set to see a very different track this weekend in nearly every way imaginable. Jeddah is a fast street circuit, with drivers staying on the throttle for roughly 79 percent of the lap.  It's also a windy and narrow track that features 27 turns. It's unforgiving, so we're quite likely to see virtual safety cars and perhaps full safety cars throughout the weekend. The narrowness also makes overtaking fairly difficult, so the qualifying session on Friday evening local time will be vital.

A one-stop strategy is likely to be what most teams target, particularly with Pirelli sending the mid-range compounds for the weekend. The preferred race tires are projected to be the medium and hard compounds, though it's possible teams shift to the stop if there isn't a significant advantage to be gained in pace between the hard and medium tires.  

DraftKings Value Picks for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Max Verstappen - $16,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Sergio Perez - $10,200
Charles Leclerc - $10,000
Carlos Sainz Jr. -$9,400
George Russell - $8,000

 DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Fernando Alonso - $7,000
Lance Stroll - $5,4000

DraftKings Tier 4 Values

Yuki Tsunoda - $4,600
Zhou Guanyu -$4,000
Nico Hulkenberg - $3,400

DraftKings Constructor Values

Red Bull Racing - $14,400
Ferrari - $10,400
Aston Martin - $5,400
Sauber - $3,000

Formula 1 DFS Picks for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Captain – George Russell - $11,400
Sergio Perez - $10,200
Lance Stroll - $5,400
Zhou Guanyu - $4,000
Nico Hulkenberg - $3,400
Constructor – Red Bull - $14,400

As has been the case for three years, the question is whether or not paying up for Verstappen in the captain spot is worth the cost. His price point of $24,300 in the captain slot is 48.6 percent of the entire salary cap. If he doesn't win and lead virtually every lap, he won't be worth his price. Of course, he did just that last weekend and many times in the last two seasons. On the occasion he does stumble, it typically comes at street courses. All three of the races he failed to win came at street courses in 2023, including at Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, it's difficult to argue his track record and overall dominance. For those who choose to roster him, be prepared to pay down in every remaining roster spot.

For those who pivot away from Verstappen, Sergio Perez and George Russell would be my top choices. Perez is fairly self-explanatory as the second driver in the fastest car on the grid. He also offers some strategic edge, as him winning the race would also give him a five-point DK boost (for beating his teammate) and provide a direct edge against those who roster Verstappen, all while coming at a cheaper price. Perez was victorious in two of the three road courses mentioned for Verstappen lapses, including this race, last season.

Russell got unlucky last week after looking like a lock for a podium finish on speed alone. Assuming Mercedes fixes the overheating issue, he'll likely be underrated based on last week's results.

From there, we need to shift into the midfield. Lance Stroll is typically a punching bag due to the preferential treatment he receives with his father as the Aston Martin team owner, but he put together a very solid drive in Bahrain. After being caught up in a crash on the opening lap – one that wasn't his own doing – he fought back through the field to finish just one spot behind teammate Fernando Alonso. The gap in price between the two isn't justifiable, though Alonso is admittedly far more likely to finish higher for the teammate bonus.

Both Kick Sauber and Haas showed some intriguing pace in Bahrain. Zhou finished 11th and is about as steady of a driver as possible. In a midfield, and potentially worse, car that doesn't lead to many spectacular results, but at a track where mistakes are frequent and costly, steady is a good quality. Hulkenberg reached Q3 before causing the Turn 1 collision alluded to. If he can put together a similar qualifying pace, he should have a better chance of maintaining the grid position at a track where passing is more difficult.

Formula 1 Betting Picks for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook

Race Winner – Sergio Perez (+750), Geroge Russell (+2800)
Winning Constructor – Mercedes (+1600)

Podium Finish – George Russell (+300)
Winning Margin – Under 5 seconds
Classified Finishers – over 17.5 (+110)

We've explained the logic for both Perez and Russell above, which accounts for the majority of our best bets. It should come as no surprise that betting Verstappen or Red Bull comes with laying extreme odds, so it's either take on some risk betting against Verstappen or stay away from race/constructor winner.

The winning margin and classified finishers props are more interesting. Aside from 2021, this has been a close race at the finish line and we should expect the same again in 2024. This is a circuit where Perez should be able to keep pace – or very close to it – with Verstappen. If Verstappen isn't the race winner, it's difficult to envision another of the top-tier teams completely pulling away from the field. Even with inferior machinery, Russell and Leclerc specifically should be able to stick closely to Perez in the event he's the race winner. I like the under five-second winning margin from all angles.

The classified finishers is a bit riskier. We saw the number jump to 18 last season, the highest mark at the track. That's significant because drivers have gotten more used to the layout and changes to the track have occurred to enhance safety. The field also carries over at a 95 percent clip from last season (Ricciardo in for Nyck De Vries), and all drivers have raced at the track before. There will almost certainly be some mistakes (safety car -700), but they should be diminished relative to the early years.

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. Dan Marcus plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: marcusd91 DraftKings: dmarcus87.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Marcus
Dan started covering fantasy sports in 2015, joining Rotowire in 2018. In addition to Rotowire, Dan has written for Baseball HQ and Rotoballer.
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