F1 Fantasy: top picks & predictions for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix


F1's first sprint weekend of the season offers more points and an unprecedented glimpse at the competitive order before players have to fix their F1 Fantasy teams. Here are our predictions and line-up tips for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Shanghai circuit start line ahead of 2024 Chinese GP weekend

Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

F1 Fantasy players are taking a step into the unknown this weekend, as the series returns to China for the first time since 2019, giving us less data to predict who will be faster than who. There’s also the first sprint race weekend of the season and a strange F1 Fantasy deadline to factor in too.

Following a sole free practice session on Friday, drivers were thrown straight into qualifying for the sprint race. However, the F1 Fantasy deadline is not set to expire until Saturday at 4am BST. The wet sprint qualifying has already given us a much better idea of the competitive order before line-ups have to be finalised, and we’ve incorporated this into our advice below.

The sprint race should also mean higher scores, with the winning driver getting eight points, down to one for the eight-place finisher, in addition to points for overtaking, gaining position and fastest lap — so getting your driver and constructor combination right will really pay off.

We’re now four races deep into the 2024 F1 campaign, and already F1 Fantasy line-ups are beginning to converge. With Max Verstappen‘s superlative form almost never challenged, it’s hardly a surprise that the Dutchman still features in 46% of line-ups.

Similarly, with Ferrari beginning to find Red Bull-ish performance, tifosi favourite Charles Leclerc‘s popularity in F1 Fantasy line-ups has grown — with the Monégasque driver appearing in 33% of teams — despite failing to beat his team-mate in a single race this season (when both drivers have entered).

So if you’re wanting to make a leap up the standings, taking a risk on some hidden gems may be the best way forward.

2024 F1 Fantasy — F1’s secret driver gems

Drivers and constructors with the most points scored per million of their value, and their price changes since the last race

Driver Points scored Selection %
Sergio Perez 117 13%
Carlos Sainz 110 22%
Oscar Piastri 64 16%
George Russell 45 10%

Sergio Perez, Carlos Sainz, Oscar Piastri and George Russell have all ranked inside the top 10 F1 Fantasy scorers this season, cost less than their relative team-mates but still feature in limited line-ups.

While the likes of Russell and Piastri could be seen as risky investments considering the inconsistent performance of the cars beneath them, both Perez and Sainz are proven front-runners who could play a major part in your F1 Fantasy success should you choose them to feature in your line-up.

In previous F1 Fantasy guides, we’ve already shown that having Red Bull’s Mexican Minister of Defence in your line-up can be beneficial than including Verstappen. Should Sainz’s performances improve, it’s likely he’ll be of similar value when compared with Leclerc.

Read on for our tips and predictions for the Chinese Grand Prix, and don’t forget to join the Motor Sport Fantasy league.

There are more on the rules and scoring in our F1 Fantasy full guide; and if you need some creative inspiration, check out our F1 Fantasy team name generator. For more information on the chips available and when to use them, we’ve got an F1 Fantasy chips explainer too.

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Who should I pick for my F1 Fantasy team after China’s sprint qualifying?

Red Bull Chinese Grand Prix

Stick with Red Bull? Or gamble on a better-placed driver ahead?

Red Bull

Following a chaotic first qualifying session of the weekend, in which Lando Norris grabbed pole position for Saturday’s sprint by over a second, Verstappen finished fourth and Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton filled out the spaces in between, it may be tempting to quickly trade in your Red Bull and Ferrari pieces for cheaper and better-placed alternatives. But don’t be fooled.

A mixture of limited practice, rain and smaller session times may have dramatically mixed up the running order but with clear weather forecast for Saturday’s sprint, plus qualifying and the Grand Prix beyond that, we’d recommend sticking with a Red Bull or Ferrari-centric line-up.

There are no points rewarded for qualifying high up the grid for the sprint race, Norris, Hamilton and Alonso are perhaps more likely to lose your team points than gain any due to being overtaken by the faster cars directly behind them: Verstappen, Sainz, Perez and Leclerc. Every time a driver loses a position, they are deducted 1 point.

On the other hand, as a result of moving up through the field, finishing higher and earning a point for every overtake, the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers are likely to end up with much higher points totals. Should Verstappen pass Alonso, Hamilton and Norris on his way to an expected sprint race win — possibly securing an extra five points for the fastest lap on his way — he could end up scoring a minimum of 16 points from the Saturday’s sprint alone (32 with a x2 DRS boost). The potential overtaking bonuses only get better the further down the grid you go.

One team which could be worth a gamble is Sauber, which showed competitive pace before the rain fell in SQ2. For just $6.6m, Zhou Guanyu could be a good budget pick having qualified 10th for Saturday’s sprint with a history of scoring good F1 Fantasy points from the midfield. Equally, 2019 Chinese GP pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas — who costs $0.2m less than his Sauber team-mate — may be able to rekindle form from his Mercedes days to earn a good points haul from ninth.


How to score the most F1 Fantasy points possible in China

With such little data to analyse, it’s just as well that the deadline to confirm your team isn’t until Saturday, moments before the sprint race.

This appears to be down to the fact that sprint qualifying doesn’t earn any Fantasy points, and offered us an unprecedented opportunity to watch a competitive session (sprint qualifying on Friday morning) before having almost a full day to lock in selections.

Despite the rain shaking up the competitive order, sprint qualifying has given us a much better idea of which teams look set to score big in Shanghai.

Here is who we think you should consider:


Carlos Sainz 

Carlos Sainz in Ferrari F1 car cockpit

20 races remaining in the Ferrari seat for Sainz


Aside from Max Verstappen, Carlos Sainz is currently F1’s most in-form driver. Having secured a podium in every race he’s entered so far in 2024, the Spaniard has rocketed to the top of the F1 Fantasy leaderboards: with an average of 36.67 points scored and second only to team-mate Leclerc in overall value.

In fact, had he not missed the Saudi Arabian GP, he’d most likely be leading the world championship while also having amassed the highest F1 Fantasy points total. But despite all those accolades, Sainz is still only $20.1m and has been picked by just 22% of players.

Once again, Ferrari looks best of the rest in China, and Sainz so far has the advantage over his team-mate after Leclerc spun and hit the barriers in sprint qualifying. Still without a seat for 2025, Sainz also has the extra incentive of driving to impress the likes of Christian Horner and Toto Wolff who have spare seats this year. So if you’re looking for a driver who can free up some of your budget while still delivering you series-leading point totals, look no further than El Matador Jr. 



Alpine Japan

Alpine…last again

Getty Images

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly have managed to score just 16 points between them over the first four rounds of racing, with no end to their current performance drought in sight, having both been knocked out in the first sprint qualifying section.

Speaking after the Japanese GP, Ocon even stated that he felt he was “racing in a different category” to the rest of the field — which doesn’t exactly invoke a lot of confidence in F1 Fantasy players looking for a budget driver or constructor option.

So while you may be tempted by the sub-$10m price tags for both Alpine drivers and the constructor, there are far better options available which could not only deliver in the short-term but could also grow in value, allowing you to trade them later for a profit.

Haas‘s Kevin Magnussen is a prime example.


Kevin Magnussen


Magnussen could become the best budget driver on the grid — should his performances continue


Despite trailing team-mate Nico Hülkenberg in the drivers’ standings, Kevin Magnussen has been a standout performer for Haas on the F1 Fantasy leaderboards.

The Dane is currently the fifth-best bang-for-your-buck driver on the grid — having scored 0.95 points per million of his value ($8.2m) — which has a lot to do with him completing the second-highest number of overtakes of any driver on the grid (17).

In the past, Haas has been worth avoiding due to its tendency to qualify high on the grid before falling back during the grand prix and losing plenty of F1 Fantasy points in the process. But with its race pace now improved, both Magnussen and Hülkenberg could be experienced drivers to keep an eye on for the future.

In China, we’d recommend picking up the Dane, as a stellar record around the Shanghai circuit — which includes impressive points finishes in 2018 and 2017 — suggests he could he one of the highest-scoring low-budget driver the grid has to offer. He was the fastest Haas in sprint qualifying, also finishing ahead of both RBs, Williams and Alpines.



Alex Albon next to crashed Williams in 2024 Australian GP practice

Steer clear of Williams

Getty Images

Still without a spare chassis, including any Williams asset in your F1 Fantasy line-up can only be seen as a major risk.

Even with more races under his belt, Alex Albon currently has a negative points total (-10) and the team itself has scored only 13 points in total. Stuck in the bottom three in sprint qualifying, its pace appears unlikely to trouble the teams ahead.

Team principal James Vowles has stated that its drivers should have access to a spare chassis in Miami, so until that time, you’re probably best spending your F1 Fantasy budget elsewhere.


What F1 Fantasy chips should I use in China? 

The Chinese GP weekend could be the perfect chance to play your Extra DRS Chip — tripling the score of a chosen driver over the course of both the sprint and GP events.

With significantly more points available over the course of the weekend, playing this chip now should allow you to close the gap if your F1 Fantasy season has got off to a slow start, or extend your advantage.

Sprint qualifying has given a clearer view of the competitive order, despite the rain but, there are five further sprint races this season, so if you’re uncertain of how the race is likely to play out, then there’s no harm in saving those chips for later in the season.