sDRS Focus: Hulkenberg Continues to Fall

Nico Hulkenberg didn’t finish Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, completing just 35 laps before crashing out. Five of the last seven races have resulted in DNF’s for the German, with just one of the those being ‘excused’ (a did not start in Belgium). The rest were all crashes that one could argue could have been avoided. Meanwhile his teammate Sergio Perez has placed in the top ten in five of the last six races — including a third place podium in Russia.

Because of Formula One’s top heavy scoring system (drivers only score points if they place in the top ten), Hulkenberg sits a respectable 12th place in the championship. But his recent performances have dropped him down to 17th in our sDRS rankings with a score of 1414. The sDRS rankings punish drivers for not finishing races and being consistent. In the eyes of the rankings, Hulkenberg’s six top tens are not that impressive when it sees his six DNF’s and other poor performances.

Ignoring Alexander Rossi (who has not completed enough races to have an accurate sDRS score), Hulkenberg is the driver with the biggest gap between his championship position and sDRS position. He’s lost over 70 sDRS points in the last five races and only scored twice in the Formula One points since Silverstone.

Although he has out-qualified Perez more often than not, his R+/- score is also being effected by his poor race performance. It’s currently at -2.2 and is the second lowest score, ahead of only Pastor Maldonado (-2.4). For comparison, his teammate has an R+/- score of 1.5 and an sDRS score of 1531. Based on their ratings, sDRS says Perez should beat Hulkenberg 66 percent of the time: through 16 races of the season, he has beaten him 63 percent of the time.
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 Hulkenberg   Perez   Diff. 
1414
1531
117
-2.2
1.5
3.7

Hulkenberg has just three races left to regain some traction and show Force India he’s worth it. So far this season, there has been very little to be happy about if you’re team principal Vijay Mallaya.

by: Drew B., Founder

Championship Update: Hamilton Clinches at USGP

Lewis Hamilton won the United States Grand Prix, and in doing so clinched the 2015 Driver’s Championship. It wasn’t an easy race by any means, though. Nico Rosberg started on pole but was quickly moved aside (literally) in turn one. Then the battle commenced with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat — Sebastien Vettel even joined in on the party to make it a five way battle for the lead.

Upper right hand corner, Hamilton and Rosberg rub in the first turn.
In favor of brevity, we’ll skip forward to the closing stint of the race — mainly because most readers have seen the race or previously read about it. The race saw multiple safety cars, both virtual and real. The final of which helped Rosberg jump Hamilton in the pits with less than 15 laps remaining.
Rosberg prevailed towards the end of the race and had the lead over Hamilton until an unforced error sent him off the track. Hamilton slipped by and Rosberg slotted in right in front of Vettel. With a Hamilton win, Vettel would have needed second place to keep the championship fight alive. He was unable to get by his fellow German and claimed the last spot on the podium.
Rosberg had the lead behind the final safety car.
With the result, Hamilton is now 76 points ahead of the field with three races remaining. The maximum number of points any one driver could claim in the remaining races is 75. This is Hamilton’s third driver’s championship which puts him tied for fifth on the all time championship list. Vettel is the only active driver with more championships (4) than him.
by: Drew B., Founder

The Last Time Qualifying Was Postponed to Sunday

Qualifying for the United States Grand Prix was pushed back to Sunday morning because of rain and standing water on the track. Q3 was cancelled Sunday, leaving Nico Rosberg with yet another pole position start. Lewis Hamilton took second place followed by both the Red Bulls and Force Indias.

The last time a qualifying session was postponed to the following day was at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. Sebastien Vettel started on pole but Kimi Raikkonen took home the race win starting in seventh. Lewis Hamilton ended up in fifth place while his teammate Nico Rosberg was forced out of the race due to an electrical failure.

If that were to happen today, Lewis Hamilton would clinch the 2015 Driver’s World Championship with a ninth place or worse result from Sebastien Vettel.

More information on the 2013 race can be found here.

by: Drew B., Founder

sDRS Ratings: Round 15

Ratings Valid Through Round 15

Read about how sDRS is calculated here.

The Statistics

  • Lewis Hamilton won round 15 of the season at the Russian Grand Prix two weeks ago. After a brief battle with Nico Rosberg, Hamilton led 48 laps on his way to being 5.9 seconds in the clear of the field. The win was Hamilton’s ninth of the year and put him 66 points ahead of his closest championship contender, Sebastien Vettel.
  • Force India made it to the podium once again with Sergio Perez taking home a third place finish. His teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, wasn’t as lucky Sunday and retired on the first lap of the race after a crash with Marcus Ericsson. 
  • Nico Rosberg also retired from the race with a throttle issue on the seventh lap of the race. With this retirement not only did his sDRS rating drop, but his hopes of a championship have been depleted greatly. He sits 73 points out from Hamilton with just four races remaining (100 maximum points). Hamilton just needs a few points each race to secure his title. 
The ratings after Round 15 heading into the United States Grand Prix are:
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 sDRS Pos. 
Driver
 Rating 
 Champ. Pos. 
 Diff. 
1
   Lewis Hamilton
1740
1
0
2
   Sebastian Vettel
1688
2
0
3
   Nico Rosberg
1660
3
0
4
   Kimi Raikkonen
1574
4
0
5
   Valtteri Bottas
1571
5
0
6
   Felipe Massa
1559
6
0
7
   Daniil Kvyat
1534
7
0
8
   Daniel Ricciardo
1525
8
0
9
   Sergio Perez
1522
9
0
10
   Romain Grosjean
1485
10
0
11
   Max Verstappen
1483
12
1
12
Alexander Rossi*
1483
21
9
13
   Felipe Nasr
1452
13
0
14
   Carlos Sainz, Jr.
1449
15
1
15
   Marcus Ericsson
1435
17
2
16
   Nico Hulkenberg
1419
11
-5
17
   Pastor Maldonado
1416
14
-3
18
   Fernando Alonso
1391
16
-2
19
   Jenson Button
1390
18
-1
20
   Roberto Merhi
1382
20
0
21
   Will Stevens
1342
19
-2


* Has not completed the minimum number of races to be qualified with an accurate score.

by: Drew B., Founder


sDRS

The statistic – sDRS (Simple Driver Rating System)


What it is – sDRS is loosely based on the Elo Rating system, but has some major differences to account for the multiple competitors in motorsport racing. The system tells us how strong a particular driver is during a season and how close the competition is to each other. It can be used to predict which driver will be the strongest heading into a race and also accounts for past year’s performance. 

The calculation: sDRS for Formula One is calculated fairly simply. All new drivers are initialized with 1500 points (which also happens to the long term average of all driver’s ratings). Points are awarded based on finishing position after each race as follows:

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  Place     Points     Place      Points  
1 20 11 0
2 15 12 -2
3 12 13 -3
4 10 14 -5
5 9 15 -7
6 7 16 -9
7 5 17 -10
8 3 18 -12
9 2 19 -15
10 0 20 -20
The formula for calculating the new sDRS score is:
NEW_sDRS = OLD_sDRS + POSITION_POINTS
The nature of this scoring means that the system, like Elo, is zero sum. This means for every point one driver loses, another one gains. This serves to keep the system balanced and easy to judge throughout seasons, no matter the scoring system in use. sDRS is also a much better predictor for mid to back field drivers who don’t get much love from Formula One’s top ten scoring system. It can show the best of the rest just as easily as it can show the best overall.
sDRS rewards consistency over one off races, too. A driver may get a big jump in points for a good result one week, but if he doesn’t back it up after that, his rating will fall back down. This avoids a major pitfall of Formula One scoring in that one driver could get a lucky result and sit in a good points position all year long. A driver will always gain points for being better than average (tenth or eleventh place), and always lose points for a result worse than average. 
Speaking of average, the majority of the field will have an sDRS score of 1400-1700. 1500 is considered an average driver, less than 1400 is a bad driver (worthy candidate for replacement next season in most cases), and greater than 1700 is a great driver. A score above 1850 is the sign of a world class driver.
At the end of each season, driver’s scores are reverted to the mean by one half. This accounts for the unpredictability of car performance each year. With car redevelopment each season, it’s highly likely that a team who was successful one season could be well of the pace this year. Reverting to the mean corrects for this and makes the ratings more accurate at the start of a season. Think McLaren from 2014 to 2015.
Telling the relative strength of the field for a given season is a strength of sDRS. The point spread between the lowest and highest rated drivers tells us how closely matched the field is. A spread of less than 200 points is incredibly close and usually doesn’t occur in Formula One. 300-400 points is what an average Formula One field looks like and more than 500 usually means there is a powerhouse team dominating most of the season.

Drawbacks – Like any rating system, sDRS is not perfect and has its quirks. For starters, sDRS doesn’t know which track the series is going to next or how many races a driver has competed in. So for example, a driver’s great historical record at a track isn’t accounted for in the calculations before that race. All sDRS knows is that a driver has been good, bad, or average this year. The second problem is that new drivers will usually have unpredictable ratings for the first five races of the season. It takes sDRS a few races to center in on their real score and see if their early results were a fluke or a sign of things to come.

It’s a simple rating system, meaning it uses very limited variables to give a score. This is beneficial in a lot of cases as the more saturated a predictive statistic becomes the more likely it is to fall victim to too much noise – which screws up the data. sDRS does a great job of showing the strength of drivers relative to each other, but shouldn’t be used as an all or nothing guide by any means.

Ratings will be updated after each week of the Formula One season.

by: Drew B., Founder