Experts versus models: How do we rank drivers?

Formula One World Championship

Who was a greater Formula 1 driver: Nigel Mansell or Elio de Angelis? Expert panels have uniformly selected Mansell. Raw statistics of success — wins, championships, and the like — also clearly favor Mansell. Yet, every mathematical model of driver rankings developed to date resoundingly answers de Angelis. Examining the data table below helps to explain why.


This is a motivating example, but certainly not an isolated case of head-to-head results and career achievements telling conflicting stories in Formula 1. Such cases highlight the importance of the metrics used to make driver comparisons, and the different tendencies of experts and models.

When I began this blog, I had just embarked on a major analysis project that ultimately generated model-based rankings of the best Formula 1 drivers across history. The essential difficulty in rating drivers (compared to rating athletes in many other sports) is accounting for the different cars drivers used — with the exception of teammates (and even that comparison can be complicated), no direct driver comparisons are possible. Team performance differences greatly exceed driver performance differences in Formula 1, meaning traditional metrics for success (e.g., wins, points) make for unreliable driver performance metrics. Quantitative models are thus needed to infer any sort of objective rankings.

At the time I started my work, only one such model existed for Formula 1 (Eichenberger and Stadelmann, 2009). I felt that there was still room for significant improvement, and I think my model (Phillips, 2014) generated many new insights, and a driver hierarchy with greater face validity. This model has been the basis for several of my posts on this blog, including yearly rankings.

Recently, another model was published (Bell et al., 2016), unrelated to this blog, also with the goal of separating driver and team performances in Formula 1. This means that there are now three peer-reviewed models. Each of these models is a fully objective method for ranking drivers and teams. Provided with a set of data (i.e., historical race results), parameter values that represent team and driver performances are found by achieving the model’s best fit to the data.

The model assumptions

Interestingly, each model has slightly different underlying assumptions. These are the choices that dictate what the model takes as inputs, how these are mathematically related, the complexity of the model, and what the model gives as outputs. The existence of multiple models is extremely valuable for understanding how different assumptions affect relative rankings, and how robust rankings are to the structure of the underlying model.

The properties of each model are summarized in the table below, with my model (Phillips (2014) — the one used on f1metrics) in the middle column.


One of the key differences between the 2009 model and the latter two is the use of finishing position instead of points as the performance metric. Using finishing position in a linear model introduces a few potential problems. First, the model becomes very sensitive to any bad results. For example, a driver who finishes 1st several times and 20th once (e.g., due to a DNF), may have a worse performance than a teammate who consistently finishes 3rd. The same DNF penalty does not afflict drivers who habitually run in lower positions, meaning DNFs also penalize drivers differently depending on the competitiveness of their team under this system. Second, the model will experience floor and ceiling performance effects — driver/car combinations that are right near the top or the bottom of the field have less scope for differences in finishing positions. A nonlinear performance metric can address this by accounting for nonlinear changes in the performance metric (points) as a function of driver/team performance. An obvious downside to traditional points systems is their failure to discriminate between non-scoring positions (e.g., 12th vs. 15th), but this can be addressed using an extended points system, as I described previously, and that is how the other two models work.

A second key difference is the treatment of DNFs. The model used on this blog (Phillips, 2014) is unique in excluding non-driver DNFs (such as mechanical failures and technical disqualifications) from the analysis. The main downside to doing this is that it is extremely time-consuming to prepare the data in this form — as I can attest, having spent several weeks doing that myself! The upside is that it partially adjusts for bad luck. Bell et al. argue in their paper that, given enough races, the effects of luck will tend to balance out. I agree with this in principle, but in practice drivers often have short careers (tens of races), or extremely unlucky years. This undermines the ability to do per-season rankings (as I’ve presented using my model previously) and can lead to some peculiar driver rankings. For example, Lauda is ranked very low by the Bell et al. model, which is probably partly due to his very poor reliability alongside Prost in 1985 (10 mechanical failures in 14 starts). Meanwhile, Christian Fittipaldi is ranked the 11th best driver of all time by Bell et al., despite mixed results alongside weak teammates — this is because he had many fewer mechanical DNFs than his teammates during his short career. As a counterargument to excluding mechanical DNFs, car preservation was an important skill in the earlier days of F1, so mechanical failures cannot be considered purely bad luck, as they usually are today.

The Bell et al. model is unique in assuming some relationship between team performances across different years. The other two models instead allow team performance to be fit independently in each year. There is some sense to both approaches. Top teams tend to remain top teams between seasons. However, there are also many historical examples of drastic changes in team performance from one season to the next. Both assumptions are therefore worth consideration.

The models of Eichenberger & Stadelmann and Bell et al. also consider effects of secondary factors, such as weather and the track. I preferred to start with a simpler model structure, given the risk of model overspecification, especially since many years have had 0-2 wet races. Nevertheless, Bell et al. used this information to show that drivers are of relatively greater importance on average in the wet and on street circuits. Both of these findings square very well with intuition.

Model rankings

The three models make predictions that are similar in many areas, but significantly different in others. In addition to ranking drivers, the models can also be used for ranking the best teams in history. The two most recent models confirm that team performance is a larger contributor than driver performance to overall performance in Formula 1, with estimates of 61% team from Phillips and 86% team from Bell et al. This figure was probably also computed, but not reported in the paper, by Eichenberger & Stadelmann.

The top 50 driver rankings by the three models are listed below. In some cases, two of the models like a particular driver, while one does not.


Consensus rankings

One way in which we can use the models is to create a consensus ranking list by combining the rankings of the three individual models. In essence, we are then treating the three models as experts with differing opinions. Generating consensus rankings is a problem that has been studied in many areas outside of sports, including electing political candidates and ordering priorities most efficiently for business.

The simplest approach to consensus rankings is to create a list based on the average rankings of each candidate. This is the Borda method. For example, if one driver has ranks of 3, 2, and 6, their average ranking is 3.67. If another driver has ranks of 2, 1, and 4, their average ranking is 2.33, which would put them ahead of the other driver. However, many people do not like the Borda method. One problem is that it can be easily affected by extreme outlier votes. For example, a driver who is ranked 5th by 5 models but 100th by 1 model will be ranked behind a driver who is ranked 20th by all 6 models. If we are treating all models as equally valid (which we are for now), it seems more sensible to consider the consensus of 5 models over the wildly different ranking of 1. A related problem is that the Borda method fails the Condorcet criterion, which states that if an absolute majority of ranking lists place a driver in number 1 position, that driver should be ranked number 1 in the consensus list.

An alternative algorithm for finding consensus rankings is the Kemeny-Young method. The goal in this case is to find the consensus ranking list that minimizes disagreement with each other list using the Kendall tau distance as its distance metric. What this means in simple terms is to check the relative ordering of each pair of drivers in the consensus ranking list, compared to their relative ordering in each individual ranking list. For example, if Driver A is ranked ahead of Driver B in the consensus ranking list, we count how many of the models disagree on that ordering (i.e., by ranking Driver B ahead of Driver A in their lists). The total number of disagreements is counted across all possible pairwise driver comparisons.

This method is guaranteed to satisfy the Condorcet criterion, and has other favorable features. The main downside is that it can be computationally intensive to actually find the optimal consensus ranking list. In this case, it was not difficult, because the lists involved are not too long and there are only three of them.

Using this distance metric, we can first check the similarity of the three models’ lists based on how many pairwise disagreements there are between them.


From above, we can see that the three models’ lists are all similarly close to one another, with the two more recent models being slightly closer to one another than the E&S (2009) list.

The consensus ranking list for the three models (i.e., the list that is closest to all three) is shown below, with the driver ranks for each of the three models shown alongside.


*Schumacher’s rating in the Bell et al. model is derived by ignoring his post-2006 results, and treating N Rosberg’s teammate for 2010-2012 as a different driver.

Overrated and underrated drivers

While the three models do not universally agree, there are some notable cases where they are in good agreement with one another, but strong disagreement with expert opinions. These are interesting cases to consider, because they indicate drivers who may be overrated or underrated by subjective criteria. One of the most recent driver ranking lists compiled by a panel experts is the Autosport Top 40, which polled 217 Formula 1 drivers. Below are the cases of most notable expert/model mismatch.

Jack Brabham


Jack Brabham is quite rightly recognized as one of the giants of the sport. Nobody has repeated his feat of winning a championship in a car of their own construction. Only four drivers have historically won more drivers’ championships than Brabham, and he raced successfully in F1 for a period of 16 years, winning his last race at age 43. However, when his successes are weighed against those of his teammates, all three models think that on driving performance alone, there were several better in his generation. He was notably outperformed by Gurney, Rindt, and Ickx as teammates.

Mika Hakkinen


Hakkinen is often cited as Schumacher’s greatest rival. Martin Brundle, a pundit I hugely respect, has previously written about how closely he rated the pair on the basis of his experience as teammates to both. I think it’s important to note, however, that Brundle faced Schumacher in the latter’s first full season of Formula 1,  whereas Hakkinen was into his third full season when he faced Brundle. He thus faced Schumacher well before his peak.

The models attribute the closeness of the Hakkinen-Schumacher rivalry to a car advantage for McLaren in most years. The models also view Coulthard as no stronger than Barrichello, which does Hakkinen no favors given he was much closer matched with Coulthard than Schumacher was with Barrichello. In addition, Coulthard was beaten by a greater margin by Raikkonen than he was by Hakkinen during their respective stints as teammates.

Nigel Mansell


Mansell was hugely entertaining to watch. His all-or-nothing approach to racing often generated on-track drama. In the eyes of experts, he is consistently ranked among the all-time top 20, and sometimes even the top 10. It is difficult, however, to square these rankings with the objective facts. Mansell was convincingly beaten by teammate de Angelis, and then closely matched with Keke Rosberg, both of whom are typically ranked much lower by experts than Mansell. Models instead place Mansell closer to 50th in the all-time rankings, and are less than impressed by his tally of only one drivers’ championship given he spent at least three years in the undoubtedly best car on the grid (1986, 1987, 1992).

Gilles Villeneuve


Much like Mansell, Gilles Villeneuve had all the qualities that make a driver popular with fans and pundits: phenomenal car control, raw speed, wet-weather skills, and willingness to take (often insane) risks. Yet the results weren’t always there. The unmissable qualities mask issues in other areas, such as consistency and the occasions when the risks simply didn’t pay off. The models — which do not care whether race results were achieved by overt brilliance or boring consistency — view things very differently from the experts. By their assessments, Villeneuve’s results rate him a good driver but not a great one. In their view, if Villeneuve was the complete package, he should have more easily beaten his teammates, including chief rival Pironi, who was actually outscored by every teammate he ever faced in Formula 1.

Nick Heidfeld


Nick Heidfeld holds the rather unfortunate distinctions of most podiums without a win (13) and second most starts without a win (183). Based on model rankings, he should be considered a natural contender for the best driver to never win a race, alongside Chris Amon. Undoubtedly, both of these drivers are better than many race winners in Formula 1 history, and both came agonizingly close to winning. Yet, for whatever reasons, Heidfeld hasn’t yet gained the same legacy as Amon in the eyes of experts.

In Amon’s case, there were parallel exploits in the Tasman Series, non-championship grands prix, and endurance racing by which experts could rate him. In Formula 1, the cars Amon raced were often quick enough to challenge for victories, but unreliable, which kept him in the public eye. Heidfeld, by contrast, raced mostly for middling Formula 1 teams, after narrowly missing two potential moves to McLaren. His results were consistently much better than should have been expected from the machinery, but there were few obvious highs and few obvious lows. He just kept on, metronomically, scoring points. A consistent, low-risk driving style can be devastatingly effective in a front-running team (just ask Alain Prost), but it has never been a fan winner for drivers stuck further down the grid. Heidfeld is the archetypal example.

Elio de Angelis


Elio de Angelis is a remarkably forgotten and underrated driver, especially given he died near his peak and had a reputation as one of the most charismatic drivers in the paddock. During their time as teammates at Lotus, de Angelis handily beat Mansell (see the table at the beginning of the article). He then gave Senna a genuine fight in 1985, losing 3-13 in qualifying, 3-5 in races, and 33-38 in points — comparable to Mansell’s results against Prost at Ferrari. If we consider that most expert ranking lists place Senna 1st and Mansell around 15th, it would seem inexcusable to leave de Angelis out of the top 10. In actual fact, he rarely appears inside the top 40!

The models arrive at a very different conclusion from the experts. Namely, they universally propose that de Angelis belongs among the greats of the 1980s, and that he should very likely be ranked ahead of Mansell.

Ayrton Senna & Alain Prost


A final fascinating case to consider here is Senna vs. Prost. Every expert ranking list published by a major English-language motorsport journal since 1997 has ranked Senna the 1st or 2nd greatest driver of all time. In addition, every one of these lists has ranked Senna ahead of Prost, usually by a small margin. During their time as teammates at McLaren, Senna beat Prost 14-9 in races where neither driver had a mechanical failure. Prost was ahead 186-154 on overall points, although this tally is affected by Senna’s much worse luck in 1989.

Interestingly, none of the three mathematical models rank Senna or Prost in 1st place overall. Moreover, all three models rank Prost ahead of Senna, albeit by a small margin in the two more recent models. One could speculate on many reasons for Senna potentially being overrated by experts, including his spectacular driving style compared to Prost’s unassuming but very effective approach, Senna’s cultivated air of mysticism, and of course his untimely death near the peak of his career.

Room for improvement

While models have the obvious advantage of being quantitative and objective, they are not without flaws. As a seasoned observer of the sport, there are times when my subjective assessments don’t accord with my own model’s rankings. In some of these cases, I find my subjective impressions to be without solid foundation, but in others I can give good reasons why I think the model is incomplete in particular cases. The problem with subjective views, of course, is that there are equally seasoned observers who don’t share my opinions or subjective reasoning — who then do we choose to believe? Subjective impressions from the keen eyes of experts can nevertheless guide us to areas where the models are currently missing important factors and could in future be improved.

One idea for improving these models is to include other performance metrics, such as timing data, in addition to race results. In my paper, I showed that the predictions of my model do correlate well with timing data. However, there are many challenges associated with deducing performances from lap-times, including safety cars, traffic, weather, tyre and fuel strategies, and drivers choosing to back off (e.g., when they have a comfortable lead or for technical reasons). Moreover, these factors have varied significantly between eras, making it difficult to find a satisfactory model specification. To my knowledge, there has been only one attempt to quantitatively rank driver and team effects using timing data, which is the impressively detailed GrandPrixRatings system. However, this is not a fully objective model, as the top drivers in each year are chosen by the author a priori, and then other driver and team performances are calculated relative to them.

Notably, the three models considered here do not account for factors such as team orders or interactions between drivers and cars (e.g., some drivers preferring particular cars). This is because these factors cannot ever be reliably quantified back to 1950, and typically cannot even be reliably quantified today. In the case of team orders, it is often difficult to assess the extent to which they were used or the knock-on effects they had (both in terms of race strategy and in terms of motivation for the #2 drivers — why fight if it’s futile?). In cases such as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and Fernando Alonso, team orders probably had small effects on results because they were already comfortably beating their teammates in the vast majority of races. In the case of driver-car interactions, it is actually impossible to distinguish this from changes in form. Did a driver just have a bad year, or did they not like the car? These two scenarios look identical and are not amenable to any sort of easy quantitative separation.

A chief limitations of all three models is one mentioned in previous blog posts. Namely, the models do not account for systematic changes in performance across a driver’s career with age and/or experience. I presented some preliminary work on quantifying age effects in my 2015 review and I’m currently working to build a new model that includes these factors in a satisfactory fashion. This factor seems to account for most of the driver rankings that are spurious in my model. Specifically,

  • Nico Rosberg (who benefits from comparison to an older Michael Schumacher)
  • John Watson (who benefits from comparison to a recently-returned Niki Lauda)
  • Heinz-Harald Frentzen (who benefits from comparison to an older Damon Hill).

The Bell et al. model made a special exception in one of these cases, treating Michael Schumacher of 2010-2012 as a completely different driver (something I also tested in my model in previous posts), presumably to avoid the issue of Nico Rosberg being one of the very top ranked drivers, but this is an ad-hoc solution. Both I and Eichenberger & Stadelmann have explored models that include age or experience effects, but we are yet to find a specification that really makes sense and improves the model.

By its very nature, model development is never finished. It’s an iterative process of improvement and no model is ever perfect. I’ll keep working on mine, and I’m sure others will take up the challenge too. That’s it from me until the annual season review!


Eichenberger, R. and Stadelmann, D., 2009. Who is the best Formula 1 driver? An economic approach to evaluating talent. Economic Analysis and Policy, 39(3), pp.389-406.

Phillips, A.J.K., 2014. Uncovering Formula One driver performances from 1950 to 2013 by adjusting for team and competition effects. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, 10(2), pp.261-278.$002fjqas.2014.10.issue-2$002fjqas-2013-0031$002fjqas-2013-0031.xml

[Email me for a pdf copy]

Bell, A., Smith, J., Sabel, C.E. and Jones, K., 2016. Formula for success: Multilevel modelling of Formula One Driver and Constructor performance, 1950–2014. Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, 12(2), pp.99-112.



  1. Great post as always. It’s very interesting to see the different assumptions in the models and it’s good to see some sort of meta-analysis of the three papers. I think this is much more valuable than expert views. It must be interesting to rank the current drivers according to all three models.
    By the way, how do the results change if you include for example age and age² variables to the model? Are the overall rankings robust with respect to age controls, or do they affect some drivers in particular?

  2. About the used distance metric between modelled lists. What is the expected distance between to completely random lists? That is, how good is a value of ~900?

    1. It’s not particularly close (i.e., they are quite dissimilar). Your question is a little complicated to answer quantitatively, because it’s not as simple as randomly scrambling lists of 50 drivers — the top 50 is being selected as a subset of a larger pool of drivers, with different models sampling different subsets.

  3. Take two races from this season, the Chinese and Monaco Grands Prix. The problem with all of these models is that they will see these two races as resulting in a 1st and a 7th each, for both Hamilton and Rosberg. To the models, both drivers were equally good in these two races. What they can’t discern is that in one race the two drivers started far apart (P20 and P1) because of reliability, and in the other they started close together (P3 and P2). In China one could presume that P1 would finish P1, while P20 could be expected to finish P6, given the car, and its strength relative to other cars on the grid. In Monaco it would expect both P2 and P3 to finish in those same positions. A relevant model should try to mimic the contextual calculations that humans can instantly make.

    The stated hope and belief that the reliability will even out over time is a lazy cop out. When teammates in this model may only have 8-16 races with each other, that’s simply not enough time for reliability to reliably even out.

    The models also enhance the score of any main-man drivers, like JYS, Clark, Fangio, Schumacher, and Alonso. This is the downside of only having two drivers to compare within a team. Alonso for example was the main man at Renault and Ferrari, so it’s not surprising that he was comfortably ahead of Fisichella, Piquet Jr, Grosjean, and Massa. However, at McLaren in an equal opportunity setup, he was outscored in both 2007 and 2015. Which head-to-head battles have more “value” for a proper ranking? Surely a battle for a title would mean more than a battle to see who ends up 15th in the season’s standings.

    Surely the top teams have some analytics models that attempt to incorporate all these contextual factors. I would guess figuring out a natural finishing position for each car in an incident free race, and a normal range of finishing results per car, would be part of such a model.

    The problem with F1 as a sport is that it has lots of non-quantifiable or hard-to-quantify elements, that are quite important to getting a true lay of the land.

    1. KRB, I think your reply is spot on, on the problems of these statistical models. Not enough relevant data to produce really relevant and accurate results. Still more data needs to be gathered, interpreted and systematically applied.

    2. 2007
      Alonso end 9 races in front of Hamilton and 7 behind and was “outscored” 109 to 109

      1. “Alonso was outscored in 2007”

        Wins: 4-4
        Podiums: 12-12
        Points: 109-109
        Races ended in fron: 9-7.. for Alonso.

        The difference in 2007 was in qualy, and the number of ‘extra laps’ of each driver.

  4. Your blog is one of the most insightful and I’m really thankful that you take the time to write these!

    I have a few questions though, and this might be old news but given how Ricciardo handily beat Vettel, and same with Alonso/Vettel beating Raikkonen by quite a margin (not this year of course), how valid do you think is the usual “it’s just a bad year/didn’t like the car” as a reason for a driver not performing. The “bad year” reason I don’t agree that much since drivers know that they’re always in constant pressure to perform. But the second one though might be a bit more acceptable. Whether Alonso can still get good results even in shit cars, or whether Vettel can get 110% out of cars that “suits” him, I think it’s still possible to compare their absolute “peaks”. When they get a car that really suits them, this is when they perform their best so I think this is a good basis to measure who is the “absolute quickest”. BUT obviously being able to deliver even when you have a car that you don’t like is undoubtedly a skill that only the absolute greatest drivers have and I think this is why Alonso is always ranked above Vettel/Raikkonen. They’re all really quick in a car that they like, but Alonso has an edge because he’s proved that he’s quick no matter what car you throw at him.

    1. Thank you. I think we have to accept that drivers have some variance in their performance from season to season. The question when we see a case like Ricciardo-Vettel in 2014 then becomes: what is more likely, given the evidence? That Vettel had a relatively poor year, or that Ricciardo would be expected to beat him in any given year, or possibly both? That’s essentially what models are trying to answer in finding the best fit to the data — what is the most probable overall explanation for what we see.

      1. whatthepastel · ·

        Very interesting, thank you! Can’t wait for your updated driver rankings!

  5. Mr Roche · · Reply

    I have never really understood why Alonso is ranked so high—considering he has been beaten by 4 of his team mates, and the ones he did manage to beat, it was when he had number 1 status. Hardly the same as comparing a driver who battles his team mate on a equal footing such as Hamilton. Same as Schumacher. Clear number 1 so his success and statistics inflated.

    1. The reason Alonso had a #1 status is because he was destroying his team mates. He destroyed Fisichella, Piquet, Grojean, Massa and Raikkonen. If they got close to him I’m sure this #1 status idea would change very quickly. Remember that in that list there are 3 drivers that had quite strong reputations before going up against Alonso.
      Against Button I think it’s becoming clear that he has an edge too. Against Hamilton, they both ended up with identical points and 4 wins. There are various considerations (relationship with the team, the fact that Hamilton was a rookie etc.), but I don’t understand why anyone could doubt that Alonso should be ranked very highly.

  6. Thank you for you post! Great as always! I think, as you already said, that “truth likely lies in the middle”, i.e., some drivers are overrated by the experts, whereas other are overrated by mathematical models. And the same applies to underrated drivers.

    By the way, I ran into a discussion that I think could make an interesting post for you: which was the worst car to ever win a Grand Prix in Formula 1?

  7. Still trying to get my head round Heidfeld being ranked so highly and Mansell so poorly but I guess the stats don’t lie 😉
    Is it possible to combine the statistical model with an expert ranking list such as the Autosport one quoted above in some mathematical way?
    Surely actual F1 drivers opinions have some validation, even if they are only asked to rank those drivers specifically in the years they were active.

    1. Yes, it would definitely be possible to form a consensus list using both subjective and objective ranking lists.

    2. However there’s a good reason for heidfeld being ranked ahead of mansell: the car, mansell won or got close to winning in a dominant car, always, while heidfeld never had a decent team. Imagine both in top cars or both in midfielders and it’s not so hard to imagine heidfeld pulling ahead.

  8. […] is designed to make the model rankings more robust to the effects of luck/misfortune, and mine is the only model that does this. The model also uses an extended points system to give fractional points to positions outside the […]

  9. I know you wrote it long before the end of the season, but don’t you think Rosberg’s overall career and now WDC with 23 wins against a top-level team-mate means that your model’s ranking isn’t spurious?

    1. Well, that’s a fair question. I personally still think Rosberg’s rating by the model is too high. We certainly shouldn’t be clouded in ranking drivers by metrics such as wins and championships, since we know these are primarily dependent on team performance and affected by random chance.

      What I think we can say with confidence is that Hamilton was consistently a (slightly) better driver than Rosberg during their time as teammates. The model of course tries to reconcile this with Rosberg beating Schumacher, but I think less credence has to be given to that result given the conditions in which Schumacher returned.

      So where does Rosberg belong? I would argue he belongs somewhere in the top 30, possibly ahead of his father, but surely not the top 10.

      1. Thank you so much for your attention. I’s place Rosberg in the lower part of the top 20, but I agree with you in general: Hamilton is slightly better, but Rosberg fared better than expected against him.

        I’m a teacher and doctorate student in Law, and use this post to explain differences between quantitative and qualitative analysis to some f-1 loving-students

  10. thebest123456 · · Reply

    Do you think you will update any more the rankings with 2.016 or even 2.015 results? There’s some changes like hamilton and rosberg which some of us would like to see.

  11. Mathew · · Reply

    Bell included a list that did not separate Schumacher’s results from before and after his first retirement. If I had to choose one ranking I would probably choose the one that doesn’t distinguish.

    1. thebest123456 · · Reply

      Schumacher is an exception, left f1 when he was 37 years old and came back at 41, he was just too old for current f1, mansell tried to race as well at that age and wasn’t successful either; the difference is mansell never took that long of a break which got him too out of shape compared to what he was. Schumacher came back for his passion for racing, even if he knew he wouldn’t be as competitive as he was, so should he have stayed retired just because that would’ve ruined his records? We know at what level schumacher was for all his first career (91-06), 2nd career consider that as a test, weighting his results on his 2nd career would mean devaluing schumacher’s ability in a serious way, if for example prost had come back in 1.997 or so he would’ve been too old too and if his results had been totally different from his first career it should’ve been included too as it would’ve been obvious that it was due to the break and far older age.

  12. […] (too small to detect from a typical Formula 1 career). This is consistent with an assumption of some of my modeling, which is that non-driver DNFs are mostly down to […]

  13. “Mansell was convincingly beaten by teammate de Angelis, and then closely matched with Keke Rosberg”

    On race finishes yes, but looking at the races Rosberg had a large advantage on pace. He’s “beaten” in race finishes due to car failures slowing him down but still finishing, or on a couple of occasions being punted off by Senna.

    1. I take your point, although Mansell was >50% at fault in some collisions with Senna.

  14. @Mansell vs De Angelis, and also @Hill beating Villeneuve beating Frentzen beating Hill:

    If you look at early F1 and teams with multiple drivers, there are large differences in driver performances from season to season compared to same teammates, series of “bad” drivers continually beating known qualities, etc. , It seems that driver performance really varies drastically based on any number of factors that they have to deal in a season. I’m not saying that is the case, but it would not surprise me if e.g. De Angelis was obviously better than Mansell at one point, and then in some other conditions the situation would reverse.

    We think of racing talent or musical talent etc. as in you being overall good at something, when that in fact can’t be. You can only have a propensity for one or more aspects of the whole complex art and it all depends on how well can you fit that puzzle piece into the whole. So, adaptability is really the ultimate quality assuming you can be adequately competitive.

    I was a member of an online community of racing gamers for years. We’d play all sorts of racing games and change the rules as much as we could each season so it remains interesting. IF the game would allow any noticeable changes to the cars, the differences were pretty stark. You could be champ quite easily one year, and then the whole next season not be able to break out of mediocrity. This can only be more emphasized in real drivers, as even a few tenths of a second adds up to a lot over the race and can be the difference between easily beating and easily losing to a teammate.

  15. […] driver rankings is a substantial upgrade of the previous model. Whereas the previous model (and all models like it) assumed a fixed level of performance across a driver’s career (with possible random […]

  16. […] my model of driver and team performance across F1 history, I made predictions of the likelihood of each driver outperforming their teammate […]

  17. […] in the Driver term to be detected). This exercise generated many interesting insights, including challenging or confirming long-held subjective views of experts, by confronting these views with data. In many cases, the rankings led me to dig deeper into the […]

  18. […] approach to driver rankings has developed over the past several years. This approach is to use an objective statistical model to attempt to separate driver performance from car performance and other key factors. One advantage […]

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