The Ultimate 2017 Season Head-to-Head

With the 2017 F1 season now behind us (urghh!) we’ve pulled together all the data to judge the winner of each intra-team head-to-head (H2H) battle.  We also tease out the nuances of each rivalry and find out where each driver shines.

For a full description of the stats check out our H2H Explanatory Notes.

As you’ll no doubt agree it’s difficult to capture everything in just six factors but we think these stats go a long way towards painting a picture of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each driver.

And the 2017 H2H winners are…

MERCEDES

Bottas Hamilton Winner
Points 305 363 Hamilton
Race Result 8 11 Hamilton
Qualifying 7 13 Hamilton
Fastest Lap 6 13 Hamilton
Laps in Top 10 1141 1118 Bottas
Best Result 1st (x3) 1st (x9) Hamilton

WINNER: Lewis Hamilton, 5-1

In his fourth Championship winning year Lewis Hamilton was dominant over his new Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. Bottas managed to score a win on a single factor – laps in the top 10. Considering the impressive reliability of Mercedes (only one DNF for the team for Bottas in Spain) and their regular appearance at the pointy end of the field this factor was very close and couldn’t be considered much of a feather in the Finn’s cap.

More impressive is Hamilton’s nine victories to Bottas’ three. A Championship winning factor result if ever there was one. Lewis’ ability to get the best out of a car in one flying lap is also highlighted in the 13 to 7 win over Valtteri in qualifying. Not only did Hamilton comprehensively beat Bottas in poles in 2017 he also beat a far more decorated driver – Michael Schumacher. At Monza Lewis scored his 69th pole position of his career taking the record for the most pole positions ever from the seven time World Champion.

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Given the twin challenges of integrating with a new team and dealing with an imperious Lewis Hamilton Bottas ended the season admirably. Two poles and a win in the final two races of the season certainly helped Valtteri’s final head to head result after relatively poor performances in many races following the mid-season break.

The Finns certainly punch above their weight in Formula 1 but to beat Lewis Hamilton in our H2H matchup in 2018 Bottas is going to have to tap an extra vein of Finnish Sisu and move to a higher and more consistent level of performance.

FERRARI

Räikkönen Vettel Winner
Points 205 317 Vettel
Race Result 2 14 Vettel
Qualifying 5 15 Vettel
Fastest Lap 9 8 Räikkönen
Laps in Top 10 978 1044 Vettel
Best Result 2nd (x2) 1st (x5) Vettel

WINNER: Sebastian Vettel, 5-1

The season that almost was for Ferrari. So how did the scarlet marque’s drivers compare? It was a relatively one sided affair but not without exception.

Sebastian Vettel scored 5 race wins for the year compared to Kimi Raikonnen’s 2 second places. This is clearly a significant defeat for the Finn and is obviously reflected in the 112 point gap in the Championship.

Seb’s abilty to pull out a lap in qualifying was also a highlight for the Scuderia in 2017. His 15:5 result was only bettered in team head to heads by Fernando Alonso (16:3) and Felipe Massa (17:2) though the Hulk wiped the floor with Jolyon Palmer 15:0 in their limited race weekends together.

There was however a glitch in the matrix in terms of Vettel’s one lap pace – achieving fastest lap in a race (traditionally a focus for the 4 x Champ). In this factor Raikonnen was the winner (albeit by only one point) outscoring Vettel for Fastest Lap in the 17 races that both drivers finished.

Though a perennial fan favourite it’s hard to see Kimi consistently beating Sebastian in H2H factors in 2018. Even so “the Kimster” will likely be a crucial player in helping Ferrari challenge for a win in both the drivers and constructors championships in 2018.

FORCE INDIA

Ocon Pérez Winner
Points 87 100 Pérez
Race Result 7 11 Pérez
Qualifying 7 13 Pérez
Fastest Lap 3 16 Pérez
Laps in Top 10 871 1028 Pérez
Best Result 5th (x2) 4th Pérez

WINNER: Sergio Perez, 6-0

A relative minnow in the team budget stakes Force India punched way above their weight in 2017 to finish fourth in the Championship. Both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were consistently in the points and our analysis at the halfway stage of the season showed both drivers were fantastic value for money.

What is surprising is that in head to head Checo Perez wiped the floor 6-0 against his rookie team mate – the only driver on the grid to manage a clean sweep! The result is surprising because at so many times during the season the two pink cars were racing (and crashing!) wheel to wheel and could hardly be separated. The closeness of the drivers even forced (pardon the pun) the team to stop the two racing each other.

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In isolation the result looks like a dominant win to the Mexican but the radar clearly shows the young Frenchman was extremely close in many of the factors. Perez certainly had the advantage in one lap speed and was dominant in both qualifying and fastest laps. In the other factors Ocon was very close to his far more experienced team mate. His rookie year was indeed so impressive that many are talking about the likeable Frenchman as a potential future World Champion.

What is clear from both the team and driver results is that Force India has an excellent foundation to continue its strong showing in 2018.

MCLAREN

Alonso Vandoorne Winner
Points 17 13 Alonso
Race Result 5 2 Alonso
Qualifying 16 3 Alonso
Fastest Lap 7 8 Vandoorne
Laps in Top 10 425 250 Alonso
Best Result 6th 7th (x2) Alonso

WINNERL Fernando Alonso, 5-1

Another difficult year for the British marque, its rookie driver and the two time World Champion. McLaren was one of five teams who ran more than two drivers during the season when Jenson Button replaced the Indy 500-bound Fernando Alonso. In terms of head to head analysis JB’s one-off cameo at Monaco was impressive in that he managed to out-qualify Vandoorne. Unfortunately neither driver managed to finish the race.

Between their main drivers Fernando’s 5:1 H2H win over Stoffel was not unexpected from arguably one of the best drivers on the grid. The rookie Belgian certainly seemed to find more performance toward the end of the season and is no doubt a huge talent. What won’t be pretty reading for Vandoorne is Alonso’s dominant performance in qualifying.

With a season under his belt it will be very interesting to see how Vandoorne performs against Alonso in 2018. Indeed it will be very interesting to see how McLaren performs against the rest of the field with a new Renault power train paired with what appears to be one of the best chassis on the grid.

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SAUBER

Ericsson Wehrlein Winner
Points 0 5 Wehrlein
Race Result 4 7 Wehrlein
Qualifying 7 11 Wehrlein
Fastest Lap 10 7 Ericsson
Laps in Top 10 38 64 Wehrlein
Best Result 11th (x2) 8th Wehrlein

WINNER: Pascal Wehrlein, 5-1

2017 was another difficult year for Sauber. But whether at the front or rear of the grid all a driver can do to raise their capital is outperform their teammate in identical machinery. To this end Pascal Wehrlein clearly outscored Marcus Ericsson in our six H2H factors. .

Perhaps the most significant win for the German was scoring points for the team at both Spain and Azerbaijan. At the end of the season points equate to dollars for the team and with these two results Pascal will have more than repaid his relatively modest salary.

We should note that Antonio Gionvinazzi replaced Wehrlein for two races due to the latter’s injury in a pre-season Race of Champions incident. The Italian acquitted himself reasonably well but was out-qualified twice by the more experienced Swede.

Unfortunately for Wehrlein outperforming his teammate wasn’t enough to secure him a seat on the grid in 2018. For Sauber, Ericsson and his new teammate Charles Leclerc perhaps closer ties with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo in 2018 will bring their head to head battles closer to the other mid-field teams.

HAAS

Grosjean Magnussen Winner
Points 28 19 Grosjean
Race Result 6 7 Magnussen
Qualifying 12 8 Grosjean
Fastest Lap 8 10 Magnussen
Laps in Top 10 376 417 Magnussen
Best Result 6th 7th Grosjean

WINNER: Draw, 3-3

The American team’s second season in F1 was somewhat inconsistent but their two drivers could hardly be separated. For the majority of the year Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen were neck and neck in their H2H factor scores. The final result – a three all draw. This was the only drawn H2H matchup of all the teams!

The radar shows how close the two drivers were to each other. The biggest difference in performance was the qualifying and points results – both factor wins going to the Frenchman.

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With a number of seats in top teams potentially becoming available in 2019 both Roman and Kevin have a lot to play for in 2018. It will be fascinating to see if HAAS can take a step forward in consistency next year and if one of their drivers can sufficiently outperform the other to stake a claim for a potentially Championship winning seat in 2019.

WILLIAMS

Massa Stroll Winner
Points 43 40 Massa
Race Result 9 4 Massa
Qualifying 17 2 Massa
Fastest Lap 8 9 Stroll
Laps in Top 10 658 360 Massa
Best Result 6th (x2) 3rd Stroll

WINNER: Felipe Massa, 4-2

2017 was an interesting year for driver head to heads at Williams. The oldest and most experienced driver on the grid against the youngest rookie plus a brief one race cameo by a reserve driver who doubles as a Sky commentator!

Firstly to Paul di Resta. Head to head he was out-qualified by Lance Stroll and didn’t finish the race in Hungary but he still out-qualified a Sauber and was only 7 tenths behind his teammate. Not bad given given how little preparation he had. Following an illness to Felipe Massa di Resta was thrust into the action at the last minute having never previously driven the car and performed admirably. It was an impressive weekend by the Scot.

After a bit of a shaky start to the season for the Canadian the radar shows Stroll performed reasonably well against his far more experienced teammate. Stroll’s third place in Azerbaijan was significantly better than Felipe’s pair of sixth places and helped him come within 3 points of the Brazilian in the Championship.

The biggest performance difference was in qualifying with Felipe dominating Lance 17 to 2. It remains unclear who Stroll’s teammate for 2019 will be. What is clear is that he is going to need to significantly improve his one lap pace to get the better of a potentially more experienced teammate – perhaps one who was previously rated as a future World Champion.

RENAULT

Hülkenberg Palmer Winner
Points 34 8 Hülkenberg
Race Result 5 3 Hülkenberg
Qualifying 15 0 Hülkenberg
Fastest Lap 7 7 draw
Laps in Top 10 459 90 Hülkenberg
Best Result 6th (x3) 6th Hülkenberg

WINNER: Nico Hulkenberg, 5-1

Renault driver head to heads are a tale of two matchups in 2017. Hulkenberg versus Palmer for 16 races and Hulkenberg against Sainz for the remaining four.

It’s amazing that Nico Hulkenberg is yet to claim an F1 podium despite his undeniable pace and race craft. Both these abilities were clearly on display in his H2H battle with Jolyon Palmer. Palmer a former Formula 2 Champion was no match for Hulkenberg and the H2H score and radar is a sorry sight for fans of the Brit.

Jolyon had impressive moments, particularly his sixth place in Singapore but unfortunately they were few and far between. Nico’s outstanding performance in out-qualifying his teammate in every race in which they competed was unmatched by any other driver.

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Hülkenberg Sainz Winner
Points 9 6 Hülkenberg
Race Result 1 0 Hülkenberg
Qualifying 3 1 Hülkenberg
Fastest Lap 1 3 Sainz
Laps in Top 10 138 85 Hülkenberg
Best Result 6th 7th Hülkenberg

WINNER: Nico Hulkenberg, 5-1

When Carlos Sainz moved to Renault the head to head with Hulkenberg was a mouth watering one. Four races is a small sample size but the prospect of a close battle in 2018 looms large. 3:1 qualifying to The Hulk and 3:1 fastest lap to Chili is perhaps a teaser of how hard these two will push each other in 2018. If Renault can put a solid package together for 2018 it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top in this quality lineup.

TORRO ROSSO

Kvyat Sainz Winner
Points 4 48 Sainz
Race Result 1 6 Sainz
Qualifying 6 8 Sainz
Fastest Lap 9 3 Kvyat
Laps in Top 10 201 466 Sainz
Best Result 9th (x2) 4th Sainz

WINNER: Carlos Sainz, 5-1

2017 was a tumultuous year for the Italian team. With four different drivers taking the grid our head to heads lack consistency. With 14 race starts against each other Daniil Kvyat and Carlo Sainz were the main protagonists. As the radar shows the Spaniard was relatively dominant over his Russian teammate.

The only factor where Daniil showed a clear advantage was fastest race lap where he had an uncanny knack of besting his Spanish teammate. Unfortunately for Kvyat in terms of Championship points Sainz was massively dominant scoring 48:4.

Two new drivers took over the seats toward the end of the season. Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley only raced against each other in the final two races and were split one all on qualifying results. It will be an extremely interesting head to head in 2018. How will the young French 2016 GP2 Champion match up against the two time World Endurance Champion Kiwi. For both drivers there is potentially a Red Bull Racing seat available in 2019 – the head to head should be intriguing.

RED BULL RACING

Ricciardo Verstappen Winner
Points 200 168 Ricciardo
Race Result 2 5 Verstappen
Qualifying 7 13 Verstappen
Fastest Lap 7 9 Verstappen
Laps in Top 10 833 773 Ricciardo
Best Result 1st 1st (x2) Verstappen

WINNER: Max Verstappen, 4-2

Not by accident we’ve left probably the most exciting 2017 H2H battle (on paper at least) till last. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen appear to get on relatively well together off track but on track and head to head it’s obviously each man for himself.

Ultimately Max beat Daniel 4:2 in our factors though it was perhaps closer than the raw result shows. What didn’t help either driver in 2017 was consistency. Verstappen failed to finish in seven races and Ricciardo six. The Australian’s 32 point advantage in the Championship is significant but so too is Verstappen’s 13:7 qualifying win. Swings and roundabouts from two hungry would-be title contenders.

The 2017 head to head win undoubtedly goes to the Dutch driver. What is perhaps more interesting is how the two will compare in 2018 with the H2H winner potentially in a position to name his seat in the strongest team for 2019. Let’s hope Renault can bring a strong package next year and that these two potential World Champions challenge their Mercedes and Ferrari counterparts for the top podium steps.

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Which are the Top Nations in Formula 1?

For almost seventy years Formula 1 has brought together drivers and teams from around the world to do battle on the racetrack. The sport has never been officially based on national teams but national pride has swelled the hearts of F1 fans since the beginning. The nationality of the drivers, the domicile of the teams and engine manufactures, and the location of the circuits themselves have remained key elements of the spectacle as the F1 circus traverses the globe each year.

So which are the top nations in Formula 1? Have they changed over time? Which countries manage to consistently produce F1 greatness despite relatively small populations?

We answer these questions and more as we investigate the role of nations in F1.

WHERE HAVE OUR F1 DRIVERS COME FROM?

As a starting point the chart below shows the distribution of nationalities of all drivers throughout F1 history.

British drivers top the scales in terms of pure numbers. A few other initial observations include:

  • As of 2017 a total of 842 drivers from 39 nations have competed in Formula 1 since the first GP in 1950
  • Drivers from the top 5 nations represent almost two thirds of all drivers
  • The number of American drivers seems surprisingly large given the low level of involvement from US drivers over recent decades

We can shed some light on this last point by looking at a time series of participation from the top nations.

As you can see American drivers dominated the sport (by number at least) for the first decade or so but have since played a far more limited role. The main reason for this is that from 1950 to 1961 the Indianapolis 500 was included in the official Formula 1 calendar. Not only did the Indy 500 have far more competitors than other Grand Prix, it was also composed almost exclusively of American drivers. In addition the United States Grand Prix was added to the calendar in 1959 so for two years there were two Formula 1 events held in the US.

A few other points to note from this time series view:

  • Britain has always been and continues to be well represented
  • Participation from the French peaked between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s before a significant decline. The recent uptick in participation has coincided with the re-emergence of the Renault works team and the reintroduction of the French GP for 2018.  Encouraging signs for the future role of the French in F1
  • While always contenders, the last decade or so represents the first time Germany has dominated driver participation
  • Italy’s participation is characterised by some dramatic shifts over time. At their peak in 1990 the number of Italian drivers was more than double the next most prominent nation.  In contrast there has only been one Italian driver in F1 in the last six years (Giovinazzi) despite the continued presence of the Italian GP, the resurgence of Ferrari as a top contender and the passionate support of the Tifosi each time F1 travels to Italy
  • Brazil has shown consistent participation in the sport since the 70s. It is the only country other than Britain to field at least one driver in every season since 1969.  Unfortunately this amazing run will end in 2018 following Felipe Massa’s retirement.

PARTICIPATION IS ONE THING – WHAT ABOUT SUCCESS?

So which Nations have provided World Champions?  This is a much shorter list.  Of the 39 nations represented by F1 drivers only 14 of them have seen their countrymen become Formula 1 World Champions.

The chart above counts all Championships even if some drivers have won more than one title.  Adjusting for multi-World-Champions the next chart shows the nationality of the individuals who have won at least one World Championship.

The Brits are way out in front on this measure.  Having removed the impact of multi-Championship winners like Schumacher, Vettel and Senna and Prost (among others) it’s clear that Great Britain has produced an impressive number of outstanding F1 drivers.

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So is Great Britain the top nation in F1?  In absolute numbers perhaps so but what about pound for pound?.   Dividing the data by national population shows us who produces the most world champions per capita.

This chart tells a very different story.  Those plucky Finns have punched well above their weight when it comes to F1 champs per million population.

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Will Kimi Raikkonen pass the baton to Valteri Bottas for the next one?  He’s certainly in the right machinery though he does have the problem of a 4x WDC British driver in the other Silver Arrow to contend with…

MORE DATA PLEASE!

These results are interesting enough.  But 33 individual World Champions is a pretty small data set from which to draw conclusions.  We can attempt to address this issue by looking at all drivers throughout F1 history who have scored at least one Grand Prix podium.  This will give us significantly more data to judge the nations who have enjoyed the most F1 success.

As you can see the British come out on top again for raw podiums.  Once again we’ll adjust this to show individual drivers who have podiumed (ie we only count each driver once even if they scored multiple podiums).

The Brits are still out front but the Americans are back in the game!  This is interesting as we’ve already seen that there have only been two American World Champions but we now see that 36 Americans have climbed the podium steps.  This is both surprising and encouraging.  As a global sport it would be great to see the US play a bigger role in F1 going forward and we’re confident new F1 owners Liberty media are on the case.

PODIUMS POUND FOR POUND

Again let’s divide by population to get the pound for pound results.

Monaco crushes the competition.  Unfortunately the tiny population of Monaco (less than 40k!) skews the results a little too far for our taste – they have actually only had a single citizen earn an F1 podium.  With all due respect to our Monagasque friends, lets redraw the chart ex-Monaco to get a closer look at the competition.

Our earlier analysis showing the strength of the Finns is borne out in the pound for pound podium analysis.  Seven Finns have scored at least one F1 podium from a country of only 5.5 million people.  There must be something in the water.  Perhaps they should bottle it and call it SISU?

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The Kiwis also deserve an honourable mention for edging out the ever strong Brits on a pound for pound basis.  Bruce Mclaren would no doubt be proud.  Now Brendan Hartley has a permanent drive can he add to the tally?

IN SUMMARY

Formula 1 has always been an international sport.  With 21 races now slated for the F1 calendar in 2018 the diversity of circuits and cultures that touch the sport is a huge part of its appeal.  The competitors themselves have also represented a diverse range of nations over Formula 1 history.

F1’s new owners are looking hard at ways to expand the reach of the sport even further.  Importantly this includes a significant effort to reignite the interest of American fans.  We look forward to seeing the results and continuing to vicariously travel the world with F1.