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Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports

An official journal of the American Statistical Association

Editor-in-Chief: Steve Rigdon, PhD

CiteScore 2018: 1.67

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.587
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 1.970

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Volume 10, Issue 2


Volume 1 (2005)

Uncovering Formula One driver performances from 1950 to 2013 by adjusting for team and competition effects

Andrew J. K. Phillips
  • Corresponding author
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine, 221 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02148, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2014-05-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jqas-2013-0031


Subjective ratings of the best drivers in the history of Formula One are common, but objective analyses are hampered by the difficulties involved in comparing drivers who raced for different teams and in different eras. Here, we present a new method for comparing performances within and between eras. Using a statistical model, we estimate driver and team contributions to performance, as well as the effects of competition with other drivers. By adjusting for team and competition effects, underlying driver performances are revealed. Using this method, we compute adjusted scoring rates for 1950–2013. Driver performances are then compared using: (i) peak performances for 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year intervals; and (ii) number of championships. Overall, these comparisons rank Clark, Stewart, Fangio, Alonso, and Schumacher as the five greatest drivers. We confirm the model’s accuracy by comparing its performance predictions to 2010–2013 lap-time data. The results of the analysis are generally in good agreement with expert opinions regarding driver performances. However, the model also identifies several undervalued and overvalued driver performances, which are discussed. This is the first objective method for comparing Formula One drivers that has yielded sensible results. The model adds a valuable perspective to previous subjective analyses.

Keywords: Formula One; historical analysis; objective comparison; performance; statistical model


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About the article

Corresponding author: Andrew J. K. Phillips, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Division of Sleep Medicine, 221 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02148, USA, Phone: +617-278-0057, e-mail:

Published Online: 2014-05-29

Published in Print: 2014-06-01

Citation Information: Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, Volume 10, Issue 2, Pages 261–278, ISSN (Online) 1559-0410, ISSN (Print) 2194-6388, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jqas-2013-0031.

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