Formula 1 DFS Picks and Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Formula 1 DFS Picks and Japanese Grand Prix Preview

Honda Japanese Grand Prix 2022

Location: Suzuka, Mie, Japan
Circuit: Suzuka Circuit 
Course Length: 5.807
Laps: 53

Japanese Grand Prix Preview 

Red Bull and Max Verstappen had a surprisingly mistake-filled weekend at Singapore, which delayed the clinching of his inevitable second-consecutive world championship. He'll be able to clinch this weekend by winning and recording the fastest lap of the race. In that scenario, it doesn't matter how his closest rivals – Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez and Ferarri's Charles Leclerc – fare. Elsewhere on the grid, Ferrari had a strong Singapore Grand Prix and will now need a fairly significant collapse to lose second place in the constructor standings to Mercedes. That leaves the race for fourth the most compelling, as McLaren and Alpine continue to scrap for the position. Alpine has had a pace advantage for much of the season, but reliability issues last weekend allowed McLaren to push ahead of them in the standings.

Another factor to watch this week will be the weather. Friday practices were defined by a significant amount of rain, which forced drivers to deal with standing water on the track. Saturday is projected to by dry, but rain could reappear Sunday for the race itself.

Key Stats at Suzuka

Races: 31
Winners from Pole: 15
Winners from front row: 27

Previous 10 winners

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

As indicated by the race history, it's been a few years since F1 was at Suzuka due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. However, drivers are happy to be back, as it is known as a challenging circuit that is both technical and very high speed. The Esses are the most identifiable feature of Suzuka, comprising turns three to seven where drivers slalom their way through the track. The Spoon Curve (turns 13 and 14) and 130R (turn 15) are also highlights of the track that are taken at very high speeds. Overall, this is one of the fastest tracks on the calendar. As a result, Pirelli has outfitted cars with the hardest tire compounds available for the weekend.

The pace of the track will benefit Red Bull, as they have the most powerful car on the grid. The significant demands of the track in terms of turns could level the field a bit for Ferrari, but not enough for it to be considered the favorite.

The final major characteristic of the track is the importance of qualifying. Only four winners have come from beyond a second-place starting position on the grid. As has been the case throughout the season, there is some possibility that the new regulations will promote passing, but historically speaking, that isn't true.

DraftKings Value Picks for the Japanese Grand Prix (based on standard $50k salary cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Max Verstappen - $12,000
Charles Leclerc - $11,200

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Sergio Perez - $9,600
Carlos Sainz Jr. - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Lando Norris - $8,000
Fernando Alonso - $7,400
Esteban Ocon - $5,600

DraftKings Tier 4 Values

Lance Stroll - $4,200
Yuki Tsunoda - $3,200

DraftKings Constructor Values
Red Bull Racing - $12,000
Mercedes - $10,300
Alpine - $5,100

Formula 1 DFS Picks for the Japanese Grand Prix

Captain – Max Verstappen - $18,600
Lando Norris - $8,000
Fernando Alonso - $7,400
Esteban Ocon - $5,600
Lance Stroll - $4,000
Yuki Tsunonda - $3,200
Constructor – Mercedes - $10,300

Sergio Perez won the Singapore Grand Prix, so it may seem a bit strange to lead off the picks portion of the article by saying that Verstappen and Leclerc remain the class on the grid by a pretty significant margin. However, prior to his win, Perez had finished on the podium only once in his last six races. As was the case last week, it's difficult to envision a scenario in which Verstappen doesn't win barring a big mistake. We got that error last week when Verstappen was forced to abort a lap in qualifying that surely would have put him on pole position. Given that we will know the results of qualifying before we lock in lineups, this part of the equation will become known information.

Perez has proven to be opportunistic this season, as both of his wins have come in races with atypical circumstances. That could be the case again this weekend. So, if Verstappen doesn't win pole or rain is expected, Perez comes more into play. The analysis for Sainz is similar, but he is likely in the inferior car and has been in unconvincing form.

Tier 3 consists of the best of the rest. Alonso and Ocon struggle with consistency due to lack of reliability of their cars. However, they have excellent pace that should put them in position to challenge Mercedes for fifth-place finishes at a significantly lesser price point. McLaren has been more inconsistent than Alpine in terms of the pace of its car but is typically more reliable. Norris has proven to consistently be capable of getting strong results out of the car.

Stroll is a punchline among F1 pundits, but his results have been respectable most of the season. Setting aside a retirement from the Italian Grand Prix, Stroll has failed to finish worse than 11th on the grid in seven of his last eight races. He's too cheap and deserves more respect. Only Nicholas Latifi is cheaper than Tsunoda, and that's another price point that doesn't make much sense. Tsunoda is mistake prone, but his pace makes it realistic that he can score points on any given weekend. If you're into narratives, the Japanese Grand Prix is also Tsunoda's home race.

Mercedes isn't in its typical form, but it's hard to see the team repeating its mistakes from Singapore. They were also extremely competitive in FP2 in Japan, encouraging for its potential results come the race. The other advantage of using Mercedes as a constructor is that it provides exposure to George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, two of the best drivers on the grid. They are arguably the closest in skill among teammates on the grid, making it difficult to project which may have the better finish in any given race weekend. Taking the constructor eliminates that guesswork.

Formula 1 Betting Picks for the Japanese Grand Prix

Race Winner: Max Verstappen -185; Lewis Hamilton +1000
Top-6 Finish: Fernando Alonso +135
Top-10 Finish: Yuki Tsunoda +225
Winning Margin: Over 10 seconds +150
Safety Car: Yes -225

There are a few different directions to go with bets over the weekend. The most straightforward is betting Verstappen and correlating that with the rest of your bets (ex., winning constructor, team to earn the most points, etc.). However, if there remains a significant chance of rain, or you just want to bet against Verstappen, there are interesting ways to do it. Mercedes performed well in wet conditions in FP2 – with the caveat of being on fresh tires – but they could be competitive in a wet race. If it's dry, betting on the pace of the Alpine drivers and Tsunoda are strong ways to get some value.

The direction of betting the winning margin also is connected to who bettors believe will win the race. In each of the last two races at Suzuka we've seen wins by a margin greater than 10 seconds. If you believe Verstappen will be victorious, betting a greater than 10-second margin is a strong bet. If the bet is on some chaos – whether due to rain or some other factor – then the under five second (+165) or between five and 10 second (+200 margins) come into play.

I'm not enthused about laying the odds for the safety car, but there has been one in five of the last six races. Given the wet conditions, it's difficult to bet No (+165).  

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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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