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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 10:44 am 
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I've noticed over time that the judgements of F1 fans have become more and more driven by statistics. Driver A won 3 WDC's so he's better than driver B because he only won 2... that sort of thing.

I think often we see people invoke stats as it's an easy way to provide support for an opinion. But outside that context, how important do you think they are when measuring a drivers talent? And why? And what, if any, factors are more important?

I'm very interested in stats cos I can be a bit OCD, but I don't think they play a big part in how I evaluate someone. Nigel Roebuck recently wrote about this and explained they don't mean much to him, crucially he pointed out that a driver that wins hasn't always done a better job than a driver who didn't. Context is everything, in other words. NR is a bit old school for me sometimes but I respect his view more than anyone's, and his assertion that context is everything is something I agree with.

Arguments I've seen recently are that Heidfeld was rubbish specifically because because he never won a race, Gilles Villeneuve wasn't that good specifically because he never won the title, and Piquet snr is a great specifically because he won three. But I don't see how it's accurate to use your number of wins (titles or races) as the main arbiter in judging talent, there are far too many variables and it doesn't allow for my precious context! Clearly it has to play some part, but talent is visible, you can see it on track and ,at earlier stages, you can see it in the passion it injects into race reports. You don't need to use a flawed method to measure it. Have we gone this way because we seem to focus so much on driver error these days? Such and such a driver is brilliant... but he makes too many mistakes. Do we somehow think that stats can make sense of that scenario and provide a rounded assessment of a driver? Or is it just easier to spend two minutes on Wikipedia and invoke a number?

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 10:59 am 
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The statistics themselves do't mean anything but the reasons for those stats do. For example Gilles Villenueve never one a world championship. That does stop him being one of the top 10 of all time. However the reason that he didn't win a championship was because he did not beat Schekter over a full season and that fact has to raise doubts.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:27 am 
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Stats? pah....

I would never arrive at a judgement purely on stats, but I think if you can provide a relevant and meaningfull one to back up your point of view and are aware of it's limitations then they are useful.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:52 am 
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Balibari wrote:
You don't need to use a flawed method to measure it. Have we gone this way because we seem to focus so much on driver error these days? Such and such a driver is brilliant... but he makes too many mistakes. Do we somehow think that stats can make sense of that scenario and provide a rounded assessment of a driver? Or is it just easier to spend two minutes on Wikipedia and invoke a number?


I think, in some ways, you are wrong. Not that statistics tell the whole story of a driver, their passion, commitment, or ability, but on average, the stats do tell us something useful. When you see how many wins, poles, laps led, fastest laps set, championships, etc. that a driver has, it tells an overall story about the driver. You get a feel for how dominant they are, how they push themselves, and how their career is progressing. To disregard statistics is to leave a tool unused because it doesn't tell you about the beauty of the drivers work. But every other method of comparison is subjective, so what else do we have? You want us all to agree on what was a great drive, even if the stats don't tell us there was one? Our experiences do that. We witness the drive. But we all interpret and remember it differently. We feel differently about it depending on if it's our favorite driver/team or not, so we will never all agree! In essence, we are stuck with statistics as the tool for comparison, otherwise it's just opinion, and everyone has one of those... (I'm sure you know the rest of that proverb, lol).

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:54 am 
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In the world of sport Ronnie O Sullivan is the best example out there.. the most talented guy in his sport, possibly one of the most talented people I've ever witnessed in any sport, but will never be the greatest.. purely because during the peak of his career he was never the full package.
MS proved what you can achieve with the full package, LH is proving what happens without it. I keep asking myself.. if MS at 25 was in McLaren, would the team be making the same mistakes? Whats the german for "Replace Whitmarsh or I'm leaving" ? :D

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:58 am 
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Sadly internet 'stats' are often just adding up wins titles etc because these things are easy to google and claim as your own 'research'.

A properly analysised set of driver / team stats would be interesring though, ie takig standard devians ,gaussian distributions and wheigting would be very interested

Sadly its been way too long since i did any serious maths so i cant / wont volunteer
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:59 am 
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I totally agree with the OP and Dolo here.

The only time I will use stats to reach a definitive conclusion on a driver is when he has been paired up with the same driver for a number of years. There are always variables, such as reliability, team favoritism or how much the car suits a particular driver, but when team mates are paired together for around three years, then the statistics tell me all I need to know. Good example of this was in a recent thread when someone claimed Vettel has not proven himself to be much better than Webber. Say wha? I think 21 wins to 7, 30 poles to 9 and 793 points to 617.5 tell me all I need to know.

For me, the only way of judging a driver is to look at their skillset, and ask questions of them - Can they set the car up well? Are they fast over one lap? Are they good at overtaking? Do they crack under pressure? etc etc. Asking those questions, and many more, is IMO the best way of judging how complete a driver is.

If we're judging drivers historically, then we have to look at their skillsets, the skillsets of their rivals, car comparisons etc.

Very good thread :thumbup:

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 12:05 pm 
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Nephilist wrote:
In the world of sport Ronnie O Sullivan is the best example out there.. the most talented guy in his sport, possibly one of the most talented people I've ever witnessed in any sport, but will never be the greatest.. purely because during the peak of his career he was never the full package.
MS proved what you can achieve with the full package, LH is proving what happens without it. I keep asking myself.. if MS at 25 was in McLaren, would the team be making the same mistakes? Whats the german for "Replace Whitmarsh or I'm leaving" ? :D


In 1996 Ferrari where making far more mistakes than Mclaren are at the moment and they ade the wise decision not to sack Todt :) I 100% agree with the rest of your post though.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 12:20 pm 
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Stats cannot be totally ignored. Judging single season of one driver purely on stats is nonsense, but when judging whole careers stats make more sense. Most of drivers never make it into top teams because they weren't good enough to drive for them. Obviously there are drivers that had their careers interrupted. But on the other hand Nick had his chance and he didn't take it. You can't begin judging some driver with long list of excuses.

There is other abuse on this forum. For some people 2007 season the only season that ever mattered in F1 when talking about Alonso and Hamilton x( Drivers change over the years, like everyone does. When judging drivers current form you look at recent results, when talking about their achievements you look at whole careerer. When someone says that Alonso is now the best driver, people bring 2007 season. Vettel can't overtake because he crashed many times in 2010? It's 2012 now, 2010 and 2007 are history.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 12:32 pm 
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Nephilist wrote:
In the world of sport Ronnie O Sullivan is the best example out there.. the most talented guy in his sport, possibly one of the most talented people I've ever witnessed in any sport, but will never be the greatest.. purely because during the peak of his career he was never the full package.
MS proved what you can achieve with the full package, LH is proving what happens without it. I keep asking myself.. if MS at 25 was in McLaren, would the team be making the same mistakes? Whats the german for "Replace Whitmarsh or I'm leaving" ? :D


And in my opinion your post shows why we need statistics as well as peoples impressions and conclusions. Your conclusion about Schumacher and Hamilton is only an impression. Schumacher is a very succesful driver and yet when he was Hamiltons age he had only one more world championship than Hamilton and one of those was won by that infamous collision with Hill in Adelaide. Hamilton could very easily be a two times World Champion at this stage. It didn't happen for him but sports all about fine margins. I remember watching then and Schumacher did have a reputation of being a very talented driver but he was known to have moments under pressure. The deciding race in 1994 when being chased by Hill he went off and hit the barrier is one. Stalling on the grid in the deciding race in 1998 against Hakkinen is another. It was the subsequent Ferrari years that cemented his reputation but it is easy to forget without statistics and records that these years were after he reached his 30th birthday. Hamiltons career is still to get there but he still could. Many would also argue that Schumacher never took on a really talented and proven teammate on equal terms. The stats show this. In contrast Hamilton partnered Alonso in his first season and (just) beat him and has since taken on a further world champion in Button. Some would argue that the sport is far more competitive now than in the Schumacers championship winning years. The stats show six world champions entered this year.

You refer to the performance of the team around Hamilton and ask if it could happen under Schumacher. Well I ask myself, what does it prove when Schumacher is driving for Mercedes and they have proven far from error free. Ultimate speed aside I would have thought his leaderships skills should be at a peak now.

All opinion and not to take anything away from Schumacher or talk up Hamilton but it is so easy for all of us to arrive at a conclusion and decide it is the truth/fact when the statistics tell a much more complicated story. Just an opinion. I wish Schumacher had agreed the terms of Ron's offer for the 1999 season to partner Mika. Then we would have really known something at Schumacher at his peak. Now we will never really know.

Its got to be both stats and opinions.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 1:04 pm 
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Rating a driver only by looking at the stats is never the best way to go.

I believe driver's ratings are mostly based on personal opinions.

Those opinions are being made by the actions of the driver himself.

Let's take 4 names :

Gilles, Ayrton, Michael and Alain.

If you look at the stats you would say :

1) Michael
2) Alain
3) Ayrton
4) Gilles

But in reality the general public view is different. Ayrton is being rated mostly better than Michael and Alain.
Why is that?

Apart from his accident the guy was extremely talented, sometimes reckless but as a person very humble and charismatic.

Michael was, undoubtedly, very very talented and fast. Perhaps not by his raw speed, but the whole package.
But he has done some strange maneuvers in the past, which gave him lots of criticism, and unlike Ayrton he just wasn't as charismatic. He perhaps became labelled as arrogant because of those "accidents". He also rose to the top, as being one of those few in history of F1, during a period where there was some sort of vacuum amongst drivers. All those people were great drivers, but the lack of other "greats" didn't contribute to the fact people have the feeling Michael never got real competition, thus we can't judge if he really could be the all time great.

Alain was a very calculated driver, but not really spectacular. He just drove his race to a minimum needed and would never take extra risks. Some would perhaps say "boring".

Gilles was also, like Ayrton, blessed to be very quick, and was very spectacular to watch. But he never actually achieved much, because you could say he was being too fanatic and ruined some very good results because of that. You could perhaps say he even got killed because of this.

But what does the public like? A "boring", calculated driver, or an slightly aggressive spectacular racing driver?

I'm NOT taking anything away from those drivers, I just think that's maybe how the general public feels, thinks,...
People just want to see something. If F1 would be filled with drivers that just race to race, without anything extra, I'm pretty sure viewers would decline. Why DRS, why the tires,and so on? Because we want exciting races, by exciting drivers. And I think the spectacular very talented drivers will always score better in the end.

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Last edited by XploZiV on Tue May 22, 2012 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 1:28 pm 
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I'm not suggesting we ignore stats, just that they should not be a predominant means of judging talent. I'm actually a big stat-fan... if such a thing can exist.

Two things spring to mind after reading other views.

1. I would dispute that first-hand experience is too subjective. Mainly because the way F1 works is no less random than public opinion. Being in the right car at the right time, the randomness of mechanical failure, the differing strength of competition, the differing scoring systems.... most seasons could have completely alternate outcomes given a small number of arbitrary changes. I thin kwe like to simplify things by talking about ifs and buts being unimportant, but in many ways they are the difference between the impression of a driver given by his stats, and the actual impression many of us have. And I know some like to cover many of those points with the blanket 'a good driver gets in the right car at the right time', but I've never understood how talent behind the wheel is (or should be) connected to political wiliness or fortune telling skill (though both will help your stats).

2. These days when we talk about the greatest or the most talented, what we really seem to be asking is, who is the most complete driver within the current championship framework? Personally I will doubtless respect that driver, but I'm not likely to be overly enthused by him. You've probably guessed I prefer a Moss/Villeneuve/Senna/Hamilton to a Fangio/Lauda/Prost/Button type of driver.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 1:36 pm 
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I remember after 2008 season If you dared to post 'Massa drove better and had more bad luck he deserved the title' the response was always 'Shut up, LH won the WDC that means he drove better'. And the same in 2009 when Button won in that ridiculous car, and again in 2011 with Vettel. Winning a WDC doesn't automatically mean a driver performed best that year, it means the combination of team, car and driver exceeded that of the rest of the field.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 1:39 pm 
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XploZiV wrote:
Gilles was also, like Ayrton, blessed to be very quick, and was very spectacular to watch. But he never actually achieved much, because you could say he was being too fanatic and ruined some very good results because of that. You could perhaps say he even got killed because of this.


This is an interesting point and I think it combines the two most misleading aspects of talent judging in F1 drivers: stats and legend.

Villeneuve is painted as underachieving and accident prone. Neither is true. He entered F1 with very little comparative experience and was wild and made a lot of mistakes. But within he become one of the more reliable and error-free drivers on the grid. That's lost in the mists of time because it doesn't fit the legend (though various journalists took the anniversary of his death as an opportunity to remind us). If you look at the number of races he won there are only a couple of drivers who acheived more in the same amount of time after their debut.

So if you want to use stats to say GV underachieved it doesn't work. If you want to judge him purely on how fast he could drive a racing car (surely still at least fairly important in this sport!) then he deserves all the credit he gets, regardless of the fact he never won a WDC (whatever the hell that means).

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Darkarium wrote:
I remember after 2008 season If you dared to post 'Massa drove better and had more bad luck he deserved the title' the response was always 'Shut up, LH won the WDC that means he drove better'. And the same in 2009 when Button won in that ridiculous car, and again in 2011 with Vettel. Winning a WDC doesn't automatically mean a driver performed best that year, it means the combination of team, car and driver exceeded that of the rest of the field.

... within the current F1 framework.

I agree completely (except I'd say 'that's why the title doesn't mean everything' as opposed to 'that's why Massa deserved to win it'). Just with a different scoring system 2008 could have been different, as could many years. Run a race for 10 laps more or less and you'll often get a different winner. The rules are the rules and the points are the points, I'm not arguing with that. And I'm not saying someone else should have won. I'm just saying we should be very careful when treating any essentially arbitrary rules as the be all and end all when judging skill.

If driver A beats driver B by one point it doesn't make them significantly better just because they have WDC next to their name. They may well be significantly better, but that's because they have more talent, not because they have a WDC.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 2:41 pm 
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it's been discussed a gazillion times before, but I just want to add 2 things about stats:

- "Old" accomplishments matter. Most people don't even take into account championships won 40 years ago, which is absurd.
- Competitors compete against their contemporary rivals, which means it's all about the difference they make when competing against them. This is why Pele (or maradona) is considered to be the greatest football player of all time, yet in his prime form he wouldn't be in the current (2012) national team by any means.

And that's mostly what stats can tell us about a driver. Problem is cars are different, both in their time (a marussia is not the same as a mclaren) and eras (it takes a different skillset to drive a 50s F1 car), and there's a lot of information we don't have access to, which you could tell from the NK/SV incident for example (I'd say 99.9% of people still think NK took the wrong line and caused the incident) or the fact very few people has tried 2006 and 2012 tires (which have a radical effect in driving styles).

If stats were the only thing that matters Fangio and Schumy would be the best ever, in that order. But if you take a look at how they stomped everyone even when having worse cars, and also taking into account their driving styles and everything else, Senna, Alonso, Stewart and Schumy (it has to be said) are among the greatest.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 2:51 pm 
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Balibari wrote:
Darkarium wrote:
I remember after 2008 season If you dared to post 'Massa drove better and had more bad luck he deserved the title' the response was always 'Shut up, LH won the WDC that means he drove better'. And the same in 2009 when Button won in that ridiculous car, and again in 2011 with Vettel. Winning a WDC doesn't automatically mean a driver performed best that year, it means the combination of team, car and driver exceeded that of the rest of the field.

... within the current F1 framework.

I agree completely (except I'd say 'that's why the title doesn't mean everything' as opposed to 'that's why Massa deserved to win it'). Just with a different scoring system 2008 could have been different, as could many years. Run a race for 10 laps more or less and you'll often get a different winner. The rules are the rules and the points are the points, I'm not arguing with that. And I'm not saying someone else should have won. I'm just saying we should be very careful when treating any essentially arbitrary rules as the be all and end all when judging skill.

If driver A beats driver B by one point it doesn't make them significantly better just because they have WDC next to their name. They may well be significantly better, but that's because they have more talent, not because they have a WDC.


Accept it is not just about talent. It is also about dedication, concentration, drive, people skills, fitness and nerve. It is the whole package.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 3:15 pm 
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Alcibiades wrote:
Balibari wrote:
Darkarium wrote:
I remember after 2008 season If you dared to post 'Massa drove better and had more bad luck he deserved the title' the response was always 'Shut up, LH won the WDC that means he drove better'. And the same in 2009 when Button won in that ridiculous car, and again in 2011 with Vettel. Winning a WDC doesn't automatically mean a driver performed best that year, it means the combination of team, car and driver exceeded that of the rest of the field.

... within the current F1 framework.

I agree completely (except I'd say 'that's why the title doesn't mean everything' as opposed to 'that's why Massa deserved to win it'). Just with a different scoring system 2008 could have been different, as could many years. Run a race for 10 laps more or less and you'll often get a different winner. The rules are the rules and the points are the points, I'm not arguing with that. And I'm not saying someone else should have won. I'm just saying we should be very careful when treating any essentially arbitrary rules as the be all and end all when judging skill.

If driver A beats driver B by one point it doesn't make them significantly better just because they have WDC next to their name. They may well be significantly better, but that's because they have more talent, not because they have a WDC.


Accept it is not just about talent. It is also about dedication, concentration, drive, people skills, fitness and nerve. It is the whole package.

Absolutely. By talent I mean speed and the ability to use it, which covers most (though not all) of the aspects you mention. Any given top 10 might pose the question as: Who's the fastest racing driver...; who's the best formula one driver...; who's the best grand prix driver... etc. Each probably requires a different answer. And each era requires a different balance of the skills. In other words, when forming such a list, context is everything.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Stats are decent to support an argument but they don't represent the full story, far from it.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 4:52 pm 
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I’m starting to think we might be better off with two distinctly separate championships:
F1 WDC = all drivers compete on a level playing field, in standard F1 spec cars, teams don’t score points, so it really is a battle to see who is the best driver. If it was done properly and fairly, no one could ever say “so and so only won because…”, we really would know who the best drivers were.

F1 WCC = proper prototype racing again, much less strict technical regs, faster cars, more innovation, but only the teams score points – it’s all about the cars. Driver choices / pairings would still obviously have an impact on results, but then it’s up to the teams to make sure they have the best drivers.


Can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I’d like to see who the best drivers really are, and I’d also like to see just how clever and innovative the teams can be – for all we know, there could be another budding Colin Chapman at Marussia, but we’ll never find out because the regulations are so restrictive.

Stats might actually mean something if all the driver competed on even terms.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 5:39 pm 
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Let me chime in here by simply stating that all drivers who make it to F1, even most pay-drivers, have storied careers prior to making it that afford them the opportunity to to even be considered for a seat in F1. None of them are slouches and most have been very successful in many other disciplines leading up to getting the call or knocking on doors with their resumes to land an opportunity.

It's obvious that stats don't tell the whole story (they obviously don't) but without excellent stats, none of these young drivers would receive any consideration for anything in F1 even with the most funding (though in today's financial climate that may be up for debate). Quite simply, if drivers don't prove they have what it takes to win, teams feel they are not worth their time. Granted, some drivers without any sponsorships land seats on lesser teams in Jr. series and exceed what anyone imagined was possible, but those are few and far in between and those people are often given a chance.

On the big stage however, you are given the chance at the big time because the teams feel they are hiring highly competitive drivers that can challenge high up in the pecking order and are hopeful they can bring the teams much needed wins. This is something we no longer see on lesser teams because they generally hire the best of the drivers with considerable financial backing rather than hiring the best drivers period. As a result the teams suffer, and when teams suffer, so does the sport.

What I find most interesting is that when stats are used to explain/corroborate/substantiate claims of someone's favorite drivers perhaps not being as good as that person believes, they are quick to state stats don't tell the whole story. However, those same people are quick to pull up stats to paint a positive picture of their favorite drivers. It's a bit hypocritical if you ask me. The way I see it, while there have been some truly gifted drivers that flailed about as a direct result of being on lesser teams, a truly great driver is capable of far exceeding expectations even in lesser cars "consistently". That's the key for me. Consistency. Excellent drivers can do exceptionally well here and there and demonstrate moments of greatness where as truly great drivers do exceptionally well all the time regardless of what car they are driving.

Fernando Alonso is one of the best examples of this. In '05 & '06 he had really strong cars and he maximized his efforts to win the championship both years. In 2007 he came close to winning a third title but inter team battle with Hamilton made it extremely difficult for him and he just missed out. the next 2 seasons he was back at Renault with cars that were simply not among the best, yet he muscled his way to podiums and a handful of victories anyway (singapore was not his doing but he still drove amazing regardless of the controversy) which proved he was simply on another level. Vettel was given Scott Speed's seat at Toro Rosso (controversially mind you) and from out of nowhere that Toro Rosso was a bit faster in his hands. Eventually he got the team's first and only pole and victory and was strong throughout his tenure with Toro Rosso. He was then promoted to the Sr. Team and almost immediately was challenging his much more experienced team mate Webber, forcing him to up his game. We all know where Vettel went from there (I still think Webber got screwed by the team in 2010) and he's consistently shown he has what it takes to win and is consistently in contention for wins. There's Hamilton who EVERYONE - like him or hate him - recognizes is a great driver who has proven he can do well consistently regardless of the car not being the best. Button is one of those special cases where most believed he was good enough to win even in those less than fantastic cars he was in all those years and he showed what he was capable of in 2009 in a car that was consistently one of, if not the best of the field. He moved to McLaren where everyone thought he'd be showed up by Hamilton but proved his 2009 wasn't a fluke by any means. Webber's career has been along the lines of Button's so I rate them almost equally.

Then we have drivers like Kubica, who much like Gilles is highly regarded and is thought to be one of the best in F1 the last 10 years. However, having been in very competitive cars in his career, has just 1 pole and 1 win to his credit and the lack of stats keep him from being considered among the best ever, and as much as I love the guy, I have to say, rightfully so. Heidfeld is another highly regarded driver who, while many believe he suffered from driving lesser cars, simply didn't amaze.

Rosberg is another driver that is highly regarded but hasn't shown anything of amazement outside the single pole and win in China this year and he's been in F1 for some time already. Hardly an amazing career to this point. Kimi is one driver that is highly regarded and has proven to be successful throughout his career but can be spotty. Whether he should be regarded as one of the best ever is difficult mainly because of him but I think we've seen moments/seasons from him that paint him as nothing short of brilliant. LOL

In the end stats don't tell the whole story but they are extremely difficult for ANYONE to acquire. Those that have the stats worked their tails off to earn them, regardless what anyone thinks. it's unfortunate that some drivers came up in eras where the amount of elite competition made it difficult for just anyone to win or luck out and never got to bask in any glory of significance, but at the same time, some drivers were great enough to make lesser cars regular contenders for wins and titles and to give credit to those who couldn't wouldn't be fair. Of course some drivers suffered from bad luck their entire careers and will never be rated in any capacity, but that's just the way it goes. Stats are not completely Black and White but to argue that much less accomplished drivers were/are just as good if not better than some of those at the top of the stats sheet isn't fair to them.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 5:49 pm 
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Alcibiades wrote:
Nephilist wrote:
In the world of sport Ronnie O Sullivan is the best example out there.. the most talented guy in his sport, possibly one of the most talented people I've ever witnessed in any sport, but will never be the greatest.. purely because during the peak of his career he was never the full package.
MS proved what you can achieve with the full package, LH is proving what happens without it. I keep asking myself.. if MS at 25 was in McLaren, would the team be making the same mistakes? Whats the german for "Replace Whitmarsh or I'm leaving" ? :D


And in my opinion your post shows why we need statistics as well as peoples impressions and conclusions. Your conclusion about Schumacher and Hamilton is only an impression. Schumacher is a very succesful driver and yet when he was Hamiltons age he had only one more world championship than Hamilton and one of those was won by that infamous collision with Hill in Adelaide. Hamilton could very easily be a two times World Champion at this stage. It didn't happen for him but sports all about fine margins. I remember watching then and Schumacher did have a reputation of being a very talented driver but he was known to have moments under pressure. The deciding race in 1994 when being chased by Hill he went off and hit the barrier is one. Stalling on the grid in the deciding race in 1998 against Hakkinen is another. It was the subsequent Ferrari years that cemented his reputation but it is easy to forget without statistics and records that these years were after he reached his 30th birthday. Hamiltons career is still to get there but he still could. Many would also argue that Schumacher never took on a really talented and proven teammate on equal terms. The stats show this. In contrast Hamilton partnered Alonso in his first season and (just) beat him and has since taken on a further world champion in Button. Some would argue that the sport is far more competitive now than in the Schumacers championship winning years. The stats show six world champions entered this year.

You refer to the performance of the team around Hamilton and ask if it could happen under Schumacher. Well I ask myself, what does it prove when Schumacher is driving for Mercedes and they have proven far from error free. Ultimate speed aside I would have thought his leaderships skills should be at a peak now.

All opinion and not to take anything away from Schumacher or talk up Hamilton but it is so easy for all of us to arrive at a conclusion and decide it is the truth/fact when the statistics tell a much more complicated story. Just an opinion. I wish Schumacher had agreed the terms of Ron's offer for the 1999 season to partner Mika. Then we would have really known something at Schumacher at his peak. Now we will never really know.

Its got to be both stats and opinions.

Couple of points to make on the above post:

1 - It's not realistic to compare Schumacher's age when he won a WDC to Hamilton's. At the time Schumacher started in F1 drivers were usually much older before they were allowed near an F1 car. Starting ages have consistently come down since then, but it's not an accurate reflection of a driver's skills from previous generations. In addition, Hamilton was fortunate enough to have a potential WDC winning car in his very first season - not many drivers have been that fortunate.

2 - Schumacher's first team-mate was Nelson Piquet, at the time considered one of the best in the world, and he beat him fair and square. Granted, NP was coming to the end of his career but he was still good enough to win a GP that year. So its not true to say he was never tested on equal terms by a talented team mate. He survived a baptism of fire and launched his F1 career from those successful early days.

Aside from the above two points, I agree whole heartedly with you that you need both stats and opinions to measure someone accurately. Stats alone can never tell the whole story.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 5:56 pm 
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Jimbox01 wrote:
I’m starting to think we might be better off with two distinctly separate championships:
F1 WDC = all drivers compete on a level playing field, in standard F1 spec cars, teams don’t score points, so it really is a battle to see who is the best driver. If it was done properly and fairly, no one could ever say “so and so only won because…”, we really would know who the best drivers were.


The only way that would work is of the cars were static and no level of adjustment was allowed. Not on tire pressures, wing, suspension, drivetrain, engine... NOTHING. While cars may be identical, any allowance of adjustment speaks to how well the driver works in unison with his team/engineers to achieve the best setup for each race. Making the cars 100% static in every capacity is the only way to see who is the very best driver.


Jimbox01 wrote:
F1 WCC = proper prototype racing again, much less strict technical regs, faster cars, more innovation, but only the teams score points – it’s all about the cars. Driver choices / pairings would still obviously have an impact on results, but then it’s up to the teams to make sure they have the best drivers.

This is great but in order to maximize drivers efforts a WDC must still exist. otherwise how are they going to push one another to do better each week?


Jimbox01 wrote:
Can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I’d like to see who the best drivers really are, and I’d also like to see just how clever and innovative the teams can be – for all we know, there could be another budding Colin Chapman at Marussia, but we’ll never find out because the regulations are so restrictive.

A-men to that my brother!!! LOL


Jimbox01 wrote:
Stats might actually mean something if all the driver competed on even terms.

Stats do mean something as is. Much like football, on any given Sunday it can be anyone's day. No one proved that more so than Maldonado the last race. And while Hamilton's misfortunes played a large role, Maldonado's determination never wavered and he put his foot down and did everything in his power to earn the win. So much so, it's difficult to say Hamilton would have won even if he'd started on pole. Of course with a static formula as described above, stats would likely hold more value, but it is how it is and the current stats cannot be so readily discounted as a result.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 6:30 pm 
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Statistics are just meaningless numbers by themselves; their meaning lies with their context. There’s an old joke about a shoe company that sent two people to check the market in Africa. A week later the company received two telegrams. The first one said: “99% barefooted / stop / Start mass production”. The second one said: “1% uses shoes / stop / Start searching other markets”.

Before talking about statistics, I’d like to stress again that F1 is very circumstantial and F1 fans are very superficial, mostly deliberately so.

I consider F1 circumstantial because even though it definitely takes talent, hard work, investment, dedication and so on to get to the top, oftentimes circumstances play a major role. Let me put it this way, what if Button didn’t sign with Brawn GP or if FIA declared the DDD illegal?

I also consider fans very superficial because there are too many significant factors and because they all merge together, it’s impossible to appreciate them individually. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we do, especially regarding drivers. So here’s a question: “What was the proportion of the roles of Schumacher, the car and Bridgestone in Ferrari’s success during the golden years?”

So, what’s this got to do with stats? It’s simple, stats are meaningless without a context and they’re also circumstantial and superficial.

Taking something from XploZiV’s post, (not the first time I hear it anyway), the fact that in the 5 years from 2000-2004 there was only one WDC while from 2006-2010 there were five means nothing unless you put it in a context. You can say Schumacher’s competition was weak while in the second span the competition was strong but you can also say that Schumacher was so dominant that his competition stood no chance but in the second span no driver was significantly better so anybody could win and so they did. No matter the context though, this still remains circumstantial. It’d be very easy to have gone from 5 years dominated by Schumacher (or another driver!) to 4 years dominated by Alonso if he had kept his cool at McLaren followed by 3 years dominated by Vettel if FIA had banned Brawn’s double diffusers. It could have happened easily and the ironic thing is that despite being practically the exact same grid, it would be exactly what people now claim to be better from. And obviously, besides being meaningless and circumstantial it’s also superficial. All in all, it simply means that a good driver with a very good car and fitting tires will win, sometimes for some years in a row, sometimes just once. As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

That’s why I always take the achievements and their statistics with a pinch of salt.

However, there is one stat that I find more meaningful than the achievements statistics regarding the drivers and that is the underachievement one. Obviously the same applies here too, but this time there’s a catch. In a car/driver/tire combo you can’t tell the absolute maximum (what that combo should achieve) and you can’t tell the driver’s absolute contribution to the feat but oftentimes you can tell the relative maximum (what a similar combo actually achieved), mostly based on the teammate’s results and you can deduct the relative contribution. Again though, let’s not forget that not two burgers are identical.

What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 6:37 pm 
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falb wrote:
As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

Is that really true though? it's often said 'X' only won that race or championship because of the car.

Quote:
What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.

That assumes the car was set-up to suit both drivers, I rather suspect it was set-up for their No.1 driver, Vettel.

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 6:44 pm 
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Formula1Fan. wrote:
falb wrote:
As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

Is that really true though? it's often said 'X' only won that race or championship because of the car.

Quote:
What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.

That assumes the car was set-up to suit both drivers, I rather suspect it was set-up for their No.1 driver, Vettel.

This! :thumbup:

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 6:54 pm 
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Formula1Fan. wrote:
falb wrote:
As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

Is that really true though? it's often said 'X' only won that race or championship because of the car.


Sure, if you're not a fan of 'X' but I was talking about fans. Which fans of 'X' have you heard claim that?

Formula1Fan. wrote:
Quote:
What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.

That assumes the car was set-up to suit both drivers, I rather suspect it was set-up for their No.1 driver, Vettel.


*Disclaimers apply.

And it's not just set up, it's also assuming that tires fit both drivers equally, that both drivers are at their best and so on. However, the point was valid. And to make a slightly confusing remark, it's not about beating the teammate, it's about getting beaten by the teammate. There's a big difference when you think about it.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 7:35 pm 
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Formula1Fan. wrote:
falb wrote:
As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

Is that really true though? it's often said 'X' only won that race or championship because of the car.

Quote:
What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.

That assumes the car was set-up to suit both drivers, I rather suspect it was set-up for their No.1 driver, Vettel.

Correct me if I'm wrong but each driver has his own set of engineers and is able to set up the car to his liking. We often hear of driver A copying driver B's set up, or of drivers (not) sharing set up information with each other. A car's characteristics might suit one driver over another but I very much doubt that Mark has to take Seb's set up whether he likes it or not. Mark's not exactly the quiet, introspective type and I'm sure we would have heard if that was the case ;)


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 7:39 pm 
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DOLOMITE wrote:
Stats? pah....

I would never arrive at a judgement purely on stats, but I think if you can provide a relevant and meaningfull one to back up your point of view and are aware of it's limitations then they are useful.


This. :thumbup:

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 8:02 pm 
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mikeyg123 wrote:
The statistics themselves do't mean anything but the reasons for those stats do. For example Gilles Villenueve never one a world championship. That does stop him being one of the top 10 of all time. However the reason that he didn't win a championship was because he did not beat Schekter over a full season and that fact has to raise doubts.


Why should it raise doubts? The truth always lies behind the statistics, and anyone who really wants to know what happened should look deeper.

Take the '79 season. Jody Scheckter was a very good driver, but he had luck on his side at a crucial time in the season and Gilles didn't. Jody was lucky to win at Zolder, for instance. The record books say that Jody won the race and Gilles came seventh, a lap down. However, what transpired in that race was that Jody hit Clay Reggazoni on the first lap. Jody emerged unscathed but Clay ran into Gilles, causing damage and requiring Gilles to pit. From dead last, Gilles raced through the field up to third - in spite of being stuck for ten laps behind Patrese, who was weaving on the straight to keep his position - before running out of fuel with only a few hundreds to go to the chequered flag. The four points Gilles lost that day would have made all the difference in terms of the championship outcome. Indeed, it's probable he'd have bagged all nine points that day if Jody hadn't hit Clay.

That's just one example of the relative luck of the two men that season. I'm not knocking Jody - he could drive a bit, no doubt about it - but, for me, Gilles was the best driver that season by some distance.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 8:07 pm 
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Alcibiades wrote:

And in my opinion your post shows why we need statistics as well as peoples impressions and conclusions. Your conclusion about Schumacher and Hamilton is only an impression. Schumacher is a very succesful driver and yet when he was Hamiltons age he had only one more world championship than Hamilton and one of those was won by that infamous collision with Hill in Adelaide. Hamilton could very easily be a two times World Champion at this stage. It didn't happen for him but sports all about fine margins. I remember watching then and Schumacher did have a reputation of being a very talented driver but he was known to have moments under pressure. The deciding race in 1994 when being chased by Hill he went off and hit the barrier is one. Stalling on the grid in the deciding race in 1998 against Hakkinen is another.


Stalling on the grid against Hakkinen was a problem with the car. It is no more his fault than the puncture he got later in that race.



Alcibiades wrote:

Many would also argue that Schumacher never took on a really talented and proven teammate on equal terms.


He took on Nelson Piquet on lesser terms in his first season and showed him up on almost every occasion. He also took on Barrichello when Barrichello was very highly rated. Barrichello was dominating his teammates and doing outstanding performances for Stewart in the years before he signed for Ferrari, and probably would have won the world championship in 2009 but for a brake problem in the first 6 races that took a while to fix. He also beat Jenson Button in the 2008 F1 season. Massa has done alright as well, and it's not as if Eddie Irvine was rubbish. Schumacher never drove against Hakkinen or Alonso, so it's not as if he's done absolutely everything, but he's won a lot of races.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 8:09 pm 
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Balibari wrote:
I've noticed over time that the judgements of F1 fans have become more and more driven by statistics. Driver A won 3 WDC's so he's better than driver B because he only won 2... that sort of thing.

I think often we see people invoke stats as it's an easy way to provide support for an opinion. But outside that context, how important do you think they are when measuring a drivers talent? And why? And what, if any, factors are more important?



Perhaps you should try and rephrase your post without using the word "stats". "Stats" is a very vague term, and almost any statement about something specifically that happened on a formula one race track could be cast as a statistic of some sort. I think it's best to be more specific. Formula One is decided by stats, laptimes, finishing positions, otherwise it wouldn't be racing, it would be... figure skating, or some such thing. So unless you can be more specific you aren't really saying anything.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 11:45 pm 
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There are lies, damn lies and statistics
They can be used to prove anything.
Each persons opinion is only that, my personal all time great was Jim Clark (just my opinion)


“Statistics are like a bikini. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.”

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 2:23 pm 
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Eva09 wrote:
He took on Nelson Piquet on lesser terms in his first season and showed him up on almost every occasion. He also took on Barrichello when Barrichello was very highly rated. Barrichello was dominating his teammates and doing outstanding performances for Stewart in the years before he signed for Ferrari, and probably would have won the world championship in 2009 but for a brake problem in the first 6 races that took a while to fix. He also beat Jenson Button in the 2008 F1 season. Massa has done alright as well, and it's not as if Eddie Irvine was rubbish. Schumacher never drove against Hakkinen or Alonso, so it's not as if he's done absolutely everything, but he's won a lot of races.


Piquet was way past his prime when Schumacher was paired with him. If Schumacher had taken on the Piquet from the eighties, it would've been much closer and Piquet could very well have beaten Schumacher since Piquet was a very smart driver, skilled at setup and knew how to handle unfavourable team politics (remember he beat Mansell when Mansell had full support of Williams).

You certainly don't think Mansell's 1995 debacle was representative of his true ability, do you?

And Irvine was rubbish, sorry. Not being able to win 1999 WDC even with tons of help from Schumacher and Salo, and Hakkinen making a lot of mistakes, was a huge dent to his reputation. Also, Irvine was signed by Ferrari specifically to be Schumacher's lapdog, it's not as if he had a fair chance at beating him (not that he would've managed anyway).

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 3:46 pm 
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falb wrote:
Statistics are just meaningless numbers by themselves; their meaning lies with their context. There’s an old joke about a shoe company that sent two people to check the market in Africa. A week later the company received two telegrams. The first one said: “99% barefooted / stop / Start mass production”. The second one said: “1% uses shoes / stop / Start searching other markets”.

Before talking about statistics, I’d like to stress again that F1 is very circumstantial and F1 fans are very superficial, mostly deliberately so.

I consider F1 circumstantial because even though it definitely takes talent, hard work, investment, dedication and so on to get to the top, oftentimes circumstances play a major role. Let me put it this way, what if Button didn’t sign with Brawn GP or if FIA declared the DDD illegal?

I also consider fans very superficial because there are too many significant factors and because they all merge together, it’s impossible to appreciate them individually. Unfortunately, this is exactly what we do, especially regarding drivers. So here’s a question: “What was the proportion of the roles of Schumacher, the car and Bridgestone in Ferrari’s success during the golden years?”

So, what’s this got to do with stats? It’s simple, stats are meaningless without a context and they’re also circumstantial and superficial.

Taking something from XploZiV’s post, (not the first time I hear it anyway), the fact that in the 5 years from 2000-2004 there was only one WDC while from 2006-2010 there were five means nothing unless you put it in a context. You can say Schumacher’s competition was weak while in the second span the competition was strong but you can also say that Schumacher was so dominant that his competition stood no chance but in the second span no driver was significantly better so anybody could win and so they did. No matter the context though, this still remains circumstantial. It’d be very easy to have gone from 5 years dominated by Schumacher (or another driver!) to 4 years dominated by Alonso if he had kept his cool at McLaren followed by 3 years dominated by Vettel if FIA had banned Brawn’s double diffusers. It could have happened easily and the ironic thing is that despite being practically the exact same grid, it would be exactly what people now claim to be better from. And obviously, besides being meaningless and circumstantial it’s also superficial. All in all, it simply means that a good driver with a very good car and fitting tires will win, sometimes for some years in a row, sometimes just once. As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

That’s why I always take the achievements and their statistics with a pinch of salt.

However, there is one stat that I find more meaningful than the achievements statistics regarding the drivers and that is the underachievement one. Obviously the same applies here too, but this time there’s a catch. In a car/driver/tire combo you can’t tell the absolute maximum (what that combo should achieve) and you can’t tell the driver’s absolute contribution to the feat but oftentimes you can tell the relative maximum (what a similar combo actually achieved), mostly based on the teammate’s results and you can deduct the relative contribution. Again though, let’s not forget that not two burgers are identical.

What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.

:thumbup:

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 3:54 pm 
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Formula1Fan. wrote:
falb wrote:
As I keep stressing, when drivers lose it’s the car’s/tires’ fault, when they win it’s their own merit.

Is that really true though? it's often said 'X' only won that race or championship because of the car.

Quote:
What it means is that the fact that Vettel for example got a record number of poles last year doesn’t mean much to me because I can’t tell what that car could do more, for all I know that car could have gone 2 seconds faster yet, but I can tell though that Webber underachieved because that car did more than what he achieved. Disclaimers apply.

That assumes the car was set-up to suit both drivers, I rather suspect it was set-up for their No.1 driver, Vettel.

Setup is the changes a driver and their crew make to the car when dialling it in to a track, Webber had complete freedom over setup, as do all drivers. If you mean the car was developed to favour Vettel it's theoretically possible, but Webber has always been adamant that isn't the case and say's he and Vettel respond to the same features anyway.

The differentiator was the tyres, Webber couldn't make them work. He, the team and the 'expert' press are all in agreement on this. Look at his comparative one lap pace as the tyres became increasingly basic from the height of the tyre war through to last season. Webber likes the exotic rubber!

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 10:58 pm 
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"Stats mean everything!" .. Schumacher fan
"Stats don't always tell the full story" .. KR fan
"Stats are sometimes ok" .. LH fan
"Stats are utterly meaningless and have no place in a debate!" .. Massa fan
"There is a loophole in these stats that can be exploited" ... Ross Braun
"Stats can be bent" .. Newey

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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2012 11:00 pm 
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Nephilist wrote:
"Stats mean everything!" .. Schumacher fan
"Stats don't always tell the full story" .. KR fan
"Stats are sometimes ok" .. LH fan
"Stats are utterly meaningless and have no place in a debate!" .. Massa fan
"There is a loophole in these stats that can be exploited" ... Ross Braun
"Stats can be bent" .. Newey



Ummmm.......no. :twisted:

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 6:24 am 
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The problem I have when people start using stats is the kind of stats that are being used.
1. most overtakes per season.
Vettel was very poor in this category last year because he was a frequent flier of the front row. But some people might use this to say that he was not good at overtaking.

2. Most positions gained at the start
Alonso and Massa look very strong in this category this season because of the Ferraris' inability to qualify higher in 2011 and 2012. as with any other driver who managed to put his car in a qualy position it shouldn't be in.

3. WDCs
Well, this actually speaks for itself. Are only 6 people CURRENTLY WDC material on the grid this year? only if a driver wins a WDC will he be considered a great one? I remember in 2009, Button was not even considered as "good" by some people but he did win it.

there are plenty of examples of using the wrong stats to derive the conclusion any given person might want to derive. the problem is that when stats are brought up, another poster HAS TO barge in and say "I see what you are saying, but you fail to take into consideration this small detail that changes everything".

And it has been so in every single discussion that would ultimately come down to stats.

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PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2012 11:40 am 
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I think, in terms of statistics, a poor driver can't have great statistics. If someone has a lot of victories or WDCs, then it's a pretty safe bet that they'll have been a good driver. But a great driver CAN have poor statistics. Moss is an example of this, I think a lot of people would argue that although he doesn't have a WDC to his name, he was a much better driver than some WDCs.

The biggest flaw in statistics nowadays are looking at someones points. Maldonado managed to score as many points in the last race alone as Schumacher did in the first two and a half races of 2004. I'm sure someone mentioned earlier that Webber scored 617.5 points in three seasons, which is more than Senna managed to score in his entire career. And to an extent, races wins are the same. Button won 6 races in 2009, out of a possible 17. Ascari won the same number in 1952, but that was out of a possible 8, so drivers of yesteryear had a much harder time racking up lots of victories. Not to mention they're careers weren't nearly as long as those of today.

Personally, I try and rate a driver by comparing how much he/she COULD have achieved and managed versus how much he/she actually achieved or managed. And even that's flawed.


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