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Five tips for fantasy F1 success in 2009

And so our year in McLaren’s Grand Prix League competition comes to an end. Our score in Brazil was a paltry 356, due to a mediocre showing from almost every driver on our team – including Hamilton’s ‘conservative drive’ and Trulli’s brainstorm on lap 22 when he gave Sebastien Bourdais a shunt and sent himself rapidly backwards through the field.

This meant that, despite climbing some 7,000 places up the rankings since our low point in Spain, we lost places for the first time in ages and narrowly missed our revised, revised, team goal of finishing in the top 3,000.


The top Brazil scorer got 488 points, largely by backing Ferrari and Massa, and this shows just how abjectly our lot did there in comparison.

As the chequered flag waved, and Ferrari celebrated wildly just as Vettel and Hamilton nipped past Glock to take the drivers’ championship from them, top MGPL player Ford pocketed a final total of 7,353 points. He or she thus wins a flash watch, a tour of Fortress Woking and our congratulations. (Ford, if you read this and fancy writing us a guest post about the experience, then do get in touch.)

Because we are bad, bad people we must admit that we were secretly backing the second-placed player, JPMonty, to win. Simply so we could snigger over the idea of one of Montoya’s fans being given VIP treatment by the team.

But enough of that. Our season total was 6,408 whch put us in 3,276th place overall. For which we were grateful, as things looked so incredibly dire earlier in the season.

We were going to make a graph of our performance in each race and overall – mapped against the top scores week by week. Yes, we are that sad and yes, McLaren is our team of choice for a reason.

But, when it came down to it, we just hadn’t been emulating the Woking boys and girls closely enough, and incomplete data from early in the season floored us. So you’re spared that, at least.

And what have we learned from this experience? Here’s a quick summary. You can judge from our results, lovingly outlined over the course of the season, whether our advice is worth taking.

Our five six tips for fantasy F1 success in 2009

  • Use what you know – and what others know: If you’ve been following F1 for more than a season or two then you’ll have some very sound ideas about which teams and drivers are likely to thrive and prosper and which are on a downward trajectory. So don’t be afraid to use that knowledge in your picks, even if it’s against conventional wisdom, or contrary what your mates think (just set up a mini-league and prove the loudmouths wrong). Listen to your instincts and, if you’re still having trouble weighing your choices, try consulting the bookies’ odds as a great source of collective wisdom on all kinds of sporting form.
  • Use your head, not your heart (or at least know which matters): Notable Brits on Pole mistakes during this season included idealistically backing all the British drivers, thus using our hearts instead of our heads. We paid by getting saddled with Coulthard, Button and Davidson as well as Lewis Hamilton – and had to spend the transfer windows getting very creative to sort that one out. Lesson: know why you’re playing. If it’s to win (and we’re so competitive that we can turn eating breakfast into an antagonistic sporting occasion) then don’t indulge in sentimental picks. If your goal is to support your favourite drivers regardless, don’t get too hung up on position.
  • Be conventional (however much it hurts): Oh, we hate to say this. We really do. But you can never significantly buck the form book and this is why the bookies stay in business. We’ll make a hard prediction here and say that next year’s world champion will be one of the following drivers: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso or Kubica. Therefore you need to have at least two of those men on the books if possible. However much you may personally support Heikki Kovalainen or Timo Glock, you need to be realistic about who will do well and who won’t. However, having said that, there are a lot of points to be made by anyone who can spot a upcoming team or driver who is set to perform above expectations (Sebastian Vettel at Toro Rosso this year being the perfect example). Our next tip is to try to back at least one or two moderately high-risk performers in the hope that they’ll cost little and pay handsomely. But not more than that or you risk really messing your season up.
  • Be pragmatic: Of course everyone would like a full complement of star Ferrari and McLaren drivers, but most games are designed to make the cost of doing this unrealistic. Our tip is to choose one star (two if funds allow) plus several journeymen whose season is generally less spectacular (and who therefore come much cheaper) but who still bring home a decent points haul race after race. Picks from this year have included the BMW drivers, the Toyota drivers and Sebastian Vettel at Toro Rosso, great value thanks to the fact he overperformed on initial expectations. Fernando Alonso was also good value in points terms, but presumably started overpriced since he performed much worse than expected at the beginning of the season.
  • Exploit the BOGOF effect. This is one for those people playing in a league where you have to choose teams as well as drivers. Having gone to some lengths to identify the individuals that regularly score well, why not double up on their teams too? This means you get a great big double slug of points from every race. Good regular scorers this year have included BMW and Toyota in addition to the screamingly obvious Ferrari and McLaren.
  • Admit you were wrong: – if you’re wrong (and you almost certainly will be) then be prepared to admit it. If your league allows transfers, take advantage of them, and put a bit of thought into how you can make them work for you. This year’s big challenge for MGPL players was offloading the valueless Super Aguri and its drivers and still managing to collect something – anything – worth having. This inevitably became very complicated but it paid huge dividends once achieved. You need to make transfers work for you, because sure as hell your competitors will.

That’s the best advice we can come up with – other than to have fun in 2009 and remember, it’s only a game, however much you might want to seek out and destroy your more successful opponents.

If you’ve got any more tips for us and other readers, why not leave a comment and tell us how you scored well or what leagues were most entertaining to play in during 2008? We’d love to hear about your own experiences.


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