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Best drivers of all time – a statistical approach

This topic contains 7 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by Avatar of Matthijs Matthijs 9 months, 3 weeks ago.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #133876
    Avatar of Matthijs
    Matthijs
    Participant

    Which driver is the best of the pack? How are the current top driver ranked amongst the all time great? Two questions that emerge from time to time. Always a recipe for discussion, but it appears that the raw numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

    Just for fun I set up a scheme where all the top drivers are rated for 20 different indicators. For every indicator there is a 100% score (being the best score ever achieved by a driver) where all the other drivers are compared with. For instance: for number of world titles Schumacher scores the 100%, Vettel scores a 57% (4 of 7) and Massa 0%. Some indicators reveal more of the actual quality of the driver and are awarded a higher ‘weight’ than other indicators.

    Although it’s just for fun, I want this model to be as good as possible. What do you guys think of it? What can be improved? See below.

    The indicators are (some are placed in two categories but are not counted double):
    Indicator - Weight
    Titles - 6,5

    Number of titles - 2
    % seasons when title was won - 2
    % titles won when driving one of the best cars- 2,5

    Victories - 10
    Number of wins - 2
    % of races won - 3,5
    % won relative to the quality of the car - 2,5
    % of races won relative to quality of the field - 2

    Points - 5
    Number of points (2013 points system) - 1
    Points per start - 2
    Points per start relative to quality of car - 2

    Quality of car - 10
    Average quality of all driven cars - 3
    % titles won when driving one of the best cars - 2,5
    % won relative to the quality of the car - 2,5
    Points per start relative to quality of car- 2

    Quality of teammate - 6
    % seasons with topdriver as teammate - 2
    % when top teammate beaten in standings - 2
    Number of times when top teammate beaten - 2

    Quality of the field - 4,5
    Topdrivers per season - 2,5
    % of races won relative to quality of the field - 2

    Poles - 3
    Number of poles - 1
    % poles per race - 2

    Podiums - 2,25
    Number of podiums - 0,75
    % podiums per race - 1,5

    Fastest laps - 1,5
    Number of fastest laps - 0,5
    % fastest laps per race - 1

    All these variables will still not tell the whole story, because talent is not always reflected in results. For instance, where is Gilles Villeneuve ranked, considering he won almost nothing?

    Based on all indicators the all time ranking is as follows (top 20):

    Ranking
    1. Juan Manuel Fangio (by far the most impressive career based on results per race)
    (gap)
    2. Alberto Ascari (give him the best car and he will win everything)
    3. Michael Schumacher (need I say more)
    4. Ayrton Senna (successful in a very competitive era)
    5. Alain Prost (see Senna)
    6. Sebastian Vettel (see Senna and Ascari)
    7. Jim Clark
    (gap)
    8. Lewis Hamilton (results in a very competitive era and paired with strong teammates)
    9. Jackie Stewart
    10. Jochen Rindt
    11. Fernando Alonso
    12. Niki Lauda
    13. Nelson Piquet
    14. James Hunt
    15. Nigel Mansell
    16. Damon Hill
    17. Giuseppe Farina
    18. Jody Scheckter
    19. Jack Brabham
    20. Mika Hakkinen

    Some remarkable results
    - Hamilton is placed above Alonso, mostly because Hamilton´s teammates were/are much stronger (and you first have to beat your teammate to get results)
    - Hakkinen and Raikkonen (23rd) score almost equal. Seems right to me.
    - Piquet and Lauda score almost equal. That is open for debate.
    - The best non-world champion is Stirling Moss at place 21.
    - Damon Hill is ranked higher than his father. This does not seem right to me, but Damon was able to score in less-than-top cars where his father spent half of his career in oblivion. I feel that the quality of the car is not properly reflected in my approach.
    - Jacques Villeneuve is the lowest ranked world champion, tied on points with his father

    Please share your insights.

    #244820
    Avatar of Ben Needham
    Ben Needham
    Participant

    Clearly your method isn’t far from spot on as ask any pundit who the top five drivers of all time are and I doubt any one outside your top 12 would be mentioned – and generally outside your top 7!

    #244821
    Avatar of GeeMac
    GeeMac
    Participant

    Very surprised to see that James Hunt managed to get in ahead of Mansell, Brabham (particularly so) and Hakkinen. How did that happen? I suppose his stats are helped by the fact that he bailed out of the sport early so he didn’t have long spells in poor cars The field he was up against was pretty good too I guess.

    #244822
    Avatar of Matthijs
    Matthijs
    Participant

    @geemac Hunt is ranked high because he was pretty good in the Hesketh, which I do not consider having one of the top cars in ’74 or ’75. And when he did get one of the best cars (McLaren ’76), he delivered straight away.

    But I admit that particularly Hunt’s score is somewhat doubtful. Had he lost the ’76 title to Lauda and had he lingered on a few years, he would have dropped out of the top 20, even though he would have been equally talented as he was now.

    #244823
    Avatar of himmatsj
    himmatsj
    Participant

    “8. Lewis Hamilton (results in a very competitive era and always with very strong teammates)”

    OK…if you consider JB and Kovy strong. Alonso was just for the one year (I agree Lewis trounced him)…but that’s it. He hasn’t done much better than Rosberg this year TBH.

    While I love Lewis and I believe he is the purest racer on the grid, placing him at No.8 seems suspicious. Why is he ahead of Alonso and Raikkonen?

    #244824
    Avatar of glue
    glue
    Participant
    #244825
    Avatar of Michael
    Michael
    Participant

    @himmatsj

    “8. Lewis Hamilton (results in a very competitive era and always with very strong teammates)”

    OK…if you consider JB and Kovy strong. Alonso was just for the one year (I agree Lewis trounced him)…but that’s it. He hasn’t done much better than Rosberg this year TBH.

    While I love Lewis and I believe he is the purest racer on the grid, placing him at No.8 seems suspicious. Why is he ahead of Alonso and Raikkonen?

    I’m not saying he belongs in the 8th spot (IMO that’s too high for any active driver), however Lewis is one of the best qualifiers and to many the best passer without DRS. He was the only driver to take pole during the 2011 season away from the RB7s.

    Also if we look at the relationship of fastest laps and poles, it seems that both Senna and Hamilton were able to put the car on pole often but couldn’t score fastest laps as often with their cars – their ratio is 1/3 the ratio of almost all the other drivers.

    We can read the stat 3 ways:
    1. Senna and Hamilton were both bad drivers during the race
    2 They were just unlucky and couldn’t get fastest laps in their career
    3. They were just simply the best qualifiers and therefore fastest drivers over 1 lap.

    #244826
    Avatar of Matthijs
    Matthijs
    Participant

    @himmatsj:

    “8. Lewis Hamilton (results in a very competitive era and always with very strong teammates)”

    OK…if you consider JB and Kovy strong. Alonso was just for the one year (I agree Lewis trounced him)…but that’s it. He hasn’t done much better than Rosberg this year TBH.

    While I love Lewis and I believe he is the purest racer on the grid, placing him at No.8 seems suspicious. Why is he ahead of Alonso and Raikkonen?

    I was surprised myself I must say that Hamilton is ranked higher than Alonso. It’s not that I ‘placed’ Hamilton above Alonso, it’s the result of my approach. This approach may be flawed, but based on speed and talent I don’t think there is much between them. Yes, Alonso has achieved more, but considering Hamilton debuted 6 years later, Lewis’ results are more impressive. And about Lewis’ ‘very strong teammates’, that is perhaps a bit exaggerated, but Kovalainen, Button and Rosberg are on average better than Trulli, Piquet Jr. and Massa (post 2009).

    And why they are both ahead of Raikkonen? Well, compared to the other world champions, Raikkonen just doesn’t really stand out.

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