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The idea for this game arose out of the success of fantasy football and was certainly being played by the mid-1990s. Fantasy F1 competitions have been run by various newspapers and the motorsports magazine Autosport amongst others, and is available from a number of internet web sites, although the quality of such offerings varies.
There are actually at least two major variations on this game – one which consists of only drivers, and one which consists of building a virtual team of drivers, chassis, engine and (if applicable) tyres.
In the drivers only game participants choose a selection of drivers, one or two from each of several pools. Each driver has a purchase price and the team overall must stay within a given budget.
After each race every driver is awarded a score based on their performance over the race weekend - practice times, qualifying position and race performance can all play a factor in deciding the points scored. Fantasy teams score points in each round based on the scores of the drivers in the team.
Periodically – typically after every two or three races – team owners are allowed to change some of their selections. The winning team is that which accumulates the highest score at the end of the competition - usually run over a full F1 season.
In the team game participants choose race and test drivers, a chassis, engine and (if applicable) tyres. These all have a purchase price and the team overall must stay within a given budget.
After each race the various team components are awarded points based on their performance. Some variations of the game award bonus points for dramatic accidents, engine blow-ups or other incidents.
After each race team owners are allowed to modify their teams within certain restrictions - teams must remain within budget and a limit on the number of changes may be imposed.
As with the drivers-only version of the game, the winning team is that which accumulates the highest score at the end of the competition - usually run over a full F1 season.
The difference between the driver and team fantasy game and the prediction based game is that participants must predict which drivers will finish in the top 10 (scoring) positions for a particular race, with no restriction of budget. Many variants of the game abound and usually include having to predict Pole Position as well as Pole Time.
The points systems are based on awarding those with the most accurate prediction, so predicting a driver accurately or "Spot-On" will result in more points than having made a prediction which is one or more positions out ("+/-1 Pos"). Points for achieving a certain number of drivers in the top 10 (even if out of order) is also sometimes included ("Risk Bonus Points").
Dependent on the game the points for predicting drivers are either fixed at the start of the season or have a scalable "Race Class". The latter is to ensure that predicting a driver from a bottom team (low class) to finish on the podium is worth more points than predicting a top classed driver to finish on the podium - and hence creates a "Risk" / "Strategy" decision to be made when entering a prediction. In a few games the "Race Class" of the driver is even altered race to race based on actual F1 year to date results.
As with the drivers & teams-only version of the game, the winning entrant is the one who accumulates the highest score at the end of the competition - usually run over a full F1 season.