F1 Japanese Grand Prix DFS Picks: McLarens Back For Double Podium Finish

Formula 1 continues their tour in Asia for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix. Last week in Singapore, we saw Carlos Sainz Jr. take home the checkered flag while Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished the race in fifth place. It was the first race of the season where a Red Bull driver did not win. The McLarens form continues to point up which is crucial knowledge when making your F1 DFS picks at DraftKings.

In Q1 of qualifying, Williams’ driver Logan Sargeant crashed his car and is starting from the back of the pack on Sunday. The HAAS cars took a step back this week after neither driver was able to make it to Q3. This week’s race looks to be a three headed monster with Red Bull’s Verstappen leading the charge. He was back putting up the top times in all three free practice sessions this weekend and also put up the top time in qualifying.

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F1 DFS Picks: Japanese Grand Prix Picks for DraftKings

Constructor: McLaren ($7,900 at DraftKings)

While Ferrari may have been the darling choice last week, McLaren will be a popular option here in Japan as they are the fourth priced constructor but have the best combined starting positions on the grid. Both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri displayed speed this weekend in free practice sessions and both put up fantastic laps in Q3. They are the top cash and GPP constructor for this weekend.

Constructor: Red Bull ($14,600 DraftKings)

Red Bull has lapped the field in terms of constructor points. They average 52 DK points per race and it was brought down last weekend when the duo put in their worst performance of the year scoring just 21 points. In regards to how impressive that is, Mercedes is the second ranked constructor this season averaging 24.8 DK points per week. In races they have won, which is every race except for the Singapore Grand Prix last week, they have scored over 34.8 points. They are expected to score in the ball park of 50 points or more this week as Verstappen should cruise away with this win. As long as Sergio Perez is able to stay relevant and potentially push for a podium finish, this should be one of, if not, the highest scoring constructor here in Japan. Perez did finish second here in 2022. Unfortunately it is impossible to have Verstappen in the captain spot and roster this constructor, but there are ways around this.

Constructor: AlphaTauri ($3,000 DraftKings)

If you’re looking to go completely off the rails here, look no further than this AlphaTauri. They are at the minimum price tag and have a driver starting in ninth and in eleventh place. Both drivers do have the ability and car to get into the points this week, but don’t have the upside to challenge for even a top 6 place unless chaos ensues. They are strictly a GPP play to vary lineup construction in large-field tournaments.

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Driver: Max Verstappen ($15,800 DraftKings; P1)

Duh duh duh duh, Max Verstappen… that’s what the Dutch fans will be cheering this weekend as Verstappen races around the track. Verstappen is a -600 favorite to win the race, and for good reason. He has topped all the free practice times this weekend and beat his closest competitors by over 0.500 of a second in Q3, which is massive. Last week he was a fade because of his price, starting position, and how his car looked on the track. This week, he will once again show the Red Bull’s dominance.

Driver: Lando Norris ($9,400 DraftKings; P3) or Oscar Piastri ($7,600 DraftKings; P2)

This will be the decision that makes or breaks lineups this weekend. Norris is the more experienced driver, has better proven results and has out-paced Piastri for most of the weekend. On the other hand, Piastri is the cheaper driver and was able to pull out a slightly quicker final lap over his team mate. Both are fantastic options and Piastri will likely be higher owned because of the price and starting position.

Driver: Yuki Tsunoda ($4,200 DraftKings; P9) or Liam Lawson ($4,000 DraftKings; P11)

Another make or break decision for lineups this week will be deciding which AlphaTauri driver to use.Both showed up in impressive form for qualifying on Saturday which almost saw both cars in Q3. The hometown favorite, Tsunoda, was able to ride the roar of the crowd and put together his third trip to Q3 on the season. He is likely to finish higher than Lawson because of their starting positions and knowledge of this track, but Tsunoda is known for his inability to compete on Sunday’s which leaves the door wide open for Lawson.

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Driver: Kevin Magnussen ($3,400 DraftKings; P15)

Kevin Magnussen seems to be finding his groove in qualifying as he has now out-qualified his team mate in back-to-back races. This car doesn’t look as suited for the track as it did in Singapore, so ideally it is all about which team mate will finish higher and receive the bonus five points. A six point finish is the hope from this HAAS driver. Both Magnussen and this final driver are possible captain plays that will allow fantasy players to fit Verstappen, Piastri and the Red Bull constructor into lineups. Magnussen is one of the top-ranked value plays by Stokastic’s model as well.

Driver: Guanyu Zhou ($3,200 DraftKings; P19)

Guanyu Zhou went off the track on his final lap during Q1 which put him in 19th place. Zhou has been quietly very effective this season, averaging 3.5 DK points per race and even moving up seven positions last weekend in Singapore. Zhou has plenty of downside, but that is the risk you take when playing someone who is starting in 19th place with only two top 10 finishes this year. Zhou is a target because he is starting just three positions behind his team mate meaning he could definitely earn those five bonus points with a good result on Sunday. His floor is also 0 because he can’t lose any points like some of the drivers starting ahead of him.

Final F1 DFS Picks & Summary

Cash game lineups will consist of Max Verstappen, Oscar Piastri, one of the AlphaTauri drivers, the McLaren constructor and then two more value drivers. Verstappen should win this race and will be the highest owned driver in cash games this weekend. He is not someone to fade here at this track in cash games.

GPP lineups could get a little more interesting. There is no way to fit Verstappen at captain with Norris and McLaren, so many may opt to use Norris at the captain spot to have the salary to play both Verstappen and McLaren still. Using either Magnussen, Zhou, or one of the AlphaTauri drivers really opens the door to spend on the top drivers this weekend.

Verstappen will be a staple in most lineups being built this week. After the successful fade of him last week, Verstappen looks to run away with the victory here in Japan. For more F1 DFS picks and data, you can get more from our Fantasy Cruncher.

Phillip Beneteau
Teacher, writer and avid sports fan with a passion and love for F1 racing.

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