F1 2020 -Season So Far and Why Racing Point’s Method of Designing the Car is Controversial

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Hello Readers,

Today i’m going to do a little data explore of the data from the F1 2020 season so far. Exploring a number of questions about the season so far. First of all looking at qualifying and why a lot of teams are annoyed by (t)Racing Point and the strategy they have used to develop their car. Reviewing the average qualifying positions for each car show you the quality of the car on the grid. As an example here’s McLaren

Since 1990 Mclaren has had some big and up and down changes in grid position. It looks like your more likely to go back down the grid far then go forward far. At no time have McLaren ever gained 5 places on the grid compared to the year before.

To really see the improvement that Racing Point have made I have compared there average position on the grid this season compared to last season. On average they are 6.7 places higher on the grid then last year. Calculating each teams yearly change in qualifying position. Unsurprisingly most of the time it doesn’t change too much forward or back on the grid. There are only 7 teams who have made a bigger improvement from one season to the next and most of them happened with large rule changes (Brawn GP 2009 or Williams 2014). If you are on of Racing Points rivals like Renault or Mclaren too right you would be annoyed if your struggling to improve by more then 3 places in a season and Racing Point come and improve by 7 places by using methods to develop a car thats definitely in the grey.

Moving onto the grid in general, this is a small sample size but clearly so far this season has been dominated by whoever is in pole position. The only race not won from pole position was the 70th anniversary GP where Verstappen beat both Mercedes. Hopefully that percentage reduces over the coming races or we could be in for a boring season.

Finally, now there has been some controversy this week caused by F1’s own rankings for the fastest qualifyer. A few months ago now I came up with a simple model to track how a F1 driver performs based on where they finished the race compared to expected. See here:


It was a simple model and I have ideas to further refine it. Coming to a blog near you soon but here is what the current version says are drivers performances of the year so far.

Verstappen is way ahead of the other drivers and part of that is because of Hungary. He only qualified 7th but finished 2nd which is a big gain and generally starting higher then 8th the average driver on average goes backwards so that was a big win for Verstappen. His current value of 3.5 is crazily high when compared to how this number looks over the long term and therefore I expect it to reduce over the next few races. Other good performances look to be Stroll and Perez but they could be boosted by the poor qualifying at the Styrian GP. Stroll I think is the biggest surprise by this metric and he seems to be having a good season. Russell looks to be having a bad season but maybe he has been putting the car on the grid way higher then it should be. This measure is far from perfect look out for the update to improve it.

Thats it for a summary of the data from the F1 season so far. We will see how the season develops in the next few races. I will look to update this further in the season so the season can be further understood.

To leave a comment for the author, please follow the link and comment on their blog: Sport Data Science.

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