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Brawn defends 'Fastest Driver' analysis

NEWS STORY
20/08/2020

Since the results of the algorithm-based analysis were revealed earlier this week there has been widespread criticism of the standings, especially in terms of the inclusion of drivers such as Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

While fans and pundits had no problem accepting Ayrton Senna as the fastest driver over a single lap, with Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton close behind, other than the inclusion of Trulli and Kovalainen, many feel that the results are somewhat similar to those TV shows that rate the best songs, bands, movies and TV programmes ever, yet which only ever seem to focus on the most recent examples.

While the available data goes back to 1983, many wonder why drivers such as Juan Pablo Montoya and Mika Hakkinen are missing while Nico Rosberg and Charles Leclerc are both in the top seven.

"What we set out to do here was just to try and identify who we thought was the fastest driver," explained Ross Brawn, "a driver who has demonstrated his speed over one lap and not necessarily his racing prowess or his results.

"There's been one or two surprises," he continued, a masterpiece of understatement, "but when you delve into it, there's a certain amount of sense.

"Someone who worked with Jarno, who I know very well, said that if Grands Prix were five laps long, he'd win every race because his speed was phenomenal over a very short period," said the Briton.

"He was incredibly quick," added Rob Smedley, who worked with AWS on the data and also worked with Trulli at Jordan. "But not great on a Sunday.

Revealing that he has been contacted by a number of drivers, who, like fans and pundits, read the results with varying degrees of disbelief, he admitted: "I'm popular in a few places but predominantly unpopular at the minute with most of the people on the grid.".

"We've extrapolated this and we're quite proud of it," insisted Brawn, "and I think it stands scrutiny and it's controversial and we will get lots of debate around it and maybe we will refine it.

"I don't think people are laughing at it. I think it's caused plenty of debate. I think once you understand the methodology then people will start to understand."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Egalitarian, 24/08/2020 0:37

"Like all public lists, it is designed to attract attention and 'debate'. For years magazines and organisations have been doing it. It is merely a marketing tool. In the 1970's Australia's version of NME, RAM magazine, used to release a popularity contest around musicians and so on. That issue always was the highest seller each year. This is no different - to keep the 'fans' interested, they release a list. And we all jump to see if our person is in there or at the top. So to F1 and it's so-called management - I don't care. What will make me care is access to the sport - something I don't have except for Pitpass and a few other sites."

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2. Posted by Superbird70, 21/08/2020 4:56

"What is the big fuss? An objective driver screening tool based on speed for one lap. How many race winners win from pole or by leading into first corner? 80%? Maybe not a bad tool to assess drivers based on a fast lap. They never said best driver."

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3. Posted by Tombstone, 21/08/2020 0:48

""I don't think people are laughing at it. I think it's caused plenty of debate. I think once you understand the methodology then people will start to understand."

Um, we are laughing. Well, scoffing actually. It hasn't really caused debate, just widespread ridicule. We understand the methodology, but consider the methodology to be without merit - like the resulting list."

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4. Posted by *TestaRossa*, 20/08/2020 18:06

"Funny how many fans are disappointed that their boy is low on the list . Now the list is not good . LOL"

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 20/08/2020 13:44

"When it comes to data the old saying “Garbage in, garbage out” has never been so true... oh look! Titanic arrives in New York and Donald Trump Best President... ever!"

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6. Posted by Mad Matt, 20/08/2020 11:06

"I'm not sure AWS is particularly suited to this kind of analysis. They'd have done just as well with a spreadsheet and defining the algorithm themselves.

It's the same with the tyre wear figures AWS gives... the stuff of make believe :-) No wonder Pirelli wouldn't have anything to do with it.

On the other hand I don't really think you can make this kind of comparison with numbers. Formula 1 has changed over the years and it's difficult to know if a driver who was fast in one epoch would do well in another. It seems to me that some drivers shine with a set of cars and rules but not necessarily with another. Seb Vettel, for example, seemed to be good at getting the most out of the blown diffuser, although even then there was more to it than just that.

Some drivers, like Jenson Button, seemed to need a car which worked as they liked it and then they could be stupidly fast. Others, perhaps like Fernando Alonso, seemed to be able to adapt and work around a cars problems (well I'm sure all the top drivers can do that but some seem better at it than others).

Anyway, my point is that we can debate if Sterling Moss would have done as well in modern machinery or if Lando Norris would have had a good first year in F1 if he'd started at the same time as Moss but we can't know.... better, in my opinion, to celebrate the greats in their own period and enjoy them for what they are.

Rant over :-)"

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7. Posted by White Lightning, 20/08/2020 9:54

""Company MD defends major source of income.""

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