Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Spanish Grand Prix

The 2016 Spanish Grand Prix will be remembered for two things: Max Verstappen shattering the record for the youngest driver to ever win a grand prix, and the Mercedes drivers colliding in turn four and taking each other out of the race.

Max Verstappen claims his maiden victory
Once Mercedes was out this looked like Ferrari -- the #2 team in the Elo ratings -- would finally get a chance to claim a 1-2 finish. The Red Bull drivers of Ricciardo and Verstappen were in the mix, but everyone expected Vettel and Raikkonen to outpace the Red Bull pair. Both teams ended up going for a split strategy, as Verstappen and Raikkonen opted for two stops while Ricciardo and Vettel made three. The two-stop strategy proved to be the winner, as Verstappen held off Raikkonen for 30 laps.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying

Lewis Hamilton finally had a fully operational car for qualifying, Max Verstappen finally drove a Red Bull, and a McLaren finally broke into Q3. There were a few inexplicable results, though, such as Felipe Massa getting bumped in Q1 (leading to some squabbling between driver and team) and both Ferraris getting relegated to row three. Let's take a look at the ratings, post-qualifying.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Russian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton continues to have bad luck, Sebastian Vettel's is even worse, and Nico Rosberg just keeps going. And in news from Thursday night, it appears that Kvyat is out and Verstappen is in at Red Bull, following Kvyat's double collision with Vettel during the opening lap at Sochi. The Russian driver and the teenager are swapping places for the rest of the season, with Kvyat relegated back down to the Toro Rosso team for the final 17 races.

Source: Daily Mail
What does Elo have to say about this swap? Is Red Bull making the right choice in promoting Verstappen to the A-team?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Chinese Grand Prix

A few years ago Bernie Eccelstone floated the idea of ringing the track with sprinklers, which would randomly turn on during the race. The idea was to shake up the ordering and introduce a degree of randomness that would confound the drivers and strategists. While we didn't get an unforeseen rainstorm or "accidental" car into the wall, we did get the next best thing: six different teams placed cars in the top ten on the grid, with Lewis Hamilton getting relegated to the back of the grid due to technical issues.

This lead to a memorable start.

Pictured: A whole lotta oops.
Vettel and Raikkonen collided in the first corner, while Felipe Nasr slammed into Hamilton while trying to avoid Raikkonen as the Ferrari came back onto the track. By the end of the first lap, Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean, Hamilton, and Nasr all had to pit for new front wings, leaving the track scattered with debris. Race leader Daniel Ricciardo became a victim of this debris, picking up a puncture on the back straight and getting quickly overtaken by Rosberg. By that point the FIA decided that enough was enough, and sent out the safety car to give track workers a chance to clear some debris.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Bahrain Grand Prix

For the first time since the completion of qualifying at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, we have a new leader atop our Elo ratings. Rosberg's seemingly-effortless victory -- his fifth in a row -- has put him ahead of his teammate for the first time in over a year.

Once again Lewis Hamilton failed to convert a pole position to a win, as he got bogged down on the start, shoved wide in the first corner, and surrounded by mid-pack drivers.

Lewis Hamilton (right) about to get tagged by Valteri Bottas (center)
Source: Bleacher Report

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Australian Grand Prix

Hamilton got bogged down at the start, Ferrari appeared to have the race in hand, and the new Haas F1 team was in position to pick up a point. For a while 2016 Australian Grand Prix seemed to be a break from the last two seasons. But on lap 17 Alonso and Gutierrez collided, sending Gutierrez into the sand trap and Alonso barrel rolling and flipping into the wall.

Alonso walked away with only a slight limp, but the race was red-flagged.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Formula One: 2016 Preseason Standings

Source: Wikipedia
The 2016 Formula One season starts this weekend in Australia, with Lewis Hamilton as the odds-on favorite to claim his fourth World Championship overall and third in a row. Mercedes has racked up nearly 1,300 laps over the winter practice, appearing to have finally put to bed the reliability gremlins which plagued them during the 2014 season. Ferrari, meanwhile, seems to have taken a big step forward in pace, and seeks to challenge Mercedes for the constructor's title.

This year also sees the appearance of Haas F1, an American-owned team under the leadership of NASCAR team owner Gene Haas. Bolstered by an engine deal with Ferrari and a decidedly non-rookie lineup of Romain Grojean and (former Sauber driver and Ferrari reserve driver) Esteban Gutierrez, Haas has stated they plan to be fighting the mid-pack teams by the end of the year.

This year also sees three new faces: Jolyon Palmer (Renault) and DTM Champion Pascal Wehrlein and GP2 Series regular Rio Haryanto (Manor).

Let's check out the preseason standings.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Formula One: 2014 and 2015 Elo Ratings

Our first look at the application of our Elo ratings for Formula One will examine the 2014 and 2015 seasons. These seasons were notable for the utter dominance by the Mercedes F1 team and their drivers, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) and Nico Rosberg (GER).

Hamilton leads Rosberg during the 2013 Malaysian GP.
Hamilton won the title in 2008 while driving for the McLaren team, while Rosberg had routinely bested seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher while the two were teammates during Schumacher's return to F1 from 2010-2012. Hamilton and Rosberg had been friends since they were teenagers, teammates in the European Karting Championship. Even then they spoke of being teammates in Formula One, racing against each other for the World Championship.

Mercedes gave them that opportunity.

2016 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

Hello from the 2016 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

Another year has passed and there's been some major strides in college football analytics. Behind the scenes there's been good work at Football Study Hall, and I really wish I had more time to do the kind of analysis and data collection they're doing over there.

Given that it's the college football offseason, there's not too much happening football-wise on an ongoing basis right now. During the regular season you can expect to find weekly posts showcasing
We invite you to look at some of the "best of" we've produced, as other posts of interest, including
This is all on top of predictions for each and every game between two FBS teams.

We're also excited this year to unveil our new Formula One coverage. (I've been a huge fan of F1 my whole life, so this is an exciting moment for me.) We've created an Elo rating system for F1 drivers going back to 1980. Want the definitive answer on Prost versus Senna? Senna versus Schumacher? The most dominant F1 season in the last 36 years? The drivers with the best peak career ratings? You'll find all of that plus up-to-date ratings for the current season.

All-in-all it's grown into a pretty complicated system backed by a lot of code we've written over the last few years. If you have any questions or feedback for us, don't hesitate to leave a comment here or hit us up on Twitter.

Enjoy the conference, and we hope to see you there.

Follow us on Twitter at @TFGridiron and @TFGLiveOdds.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Under the Hood: Formula One Elo Ratings

Over the last several years, Elo ratings have expanded beyond chess to become a popular framework for calculating power ratings for teams in the NBA and NFL, as well as international baseball, soccer, and hockey teams. Elo provides an excellent framework for initial analysis of teams or players, especially when the actual event has events, moves, or strategy which are difficult to quantify at a fine granularity. Some sports for which there are Elo ratings -- such as basketball and baseball -- have been analyzed in more detail, and we now have a better understanding of how to evaluate both teams and individuals.

And some websites just like to churn out Elo rating
systems because they say "Elo" around the office
the same way Kristian Nairn says "Hodor" at work.
However there are many sports -- notably hockey, soccer, and football -- which are more difficult to pick apart. Football and soccer have more players than basketball or baseball. Soccer and hockey don't really have solidly defined possessions in the same way as baseball or basketball. At a first approximation, the outcome of a game -- and its score -- are what we have to go on.

This is where Elo comes in.