Thursday, September 15, 2016

Formula One: Elo Ratings, Post-Italian Grand Prix

It's been six weeks since our last update, due to a combination of the summer break and summer vacation around here, but we're finally back. There's a lot we could cover -- from Rosberg surrendering a 49-point lead in the standings to Hamilton's ongoing technical woes -- but instead we'll just focus on Italy.

Not pictured: Hamilton in the lead.
Source: Daily Mail

Hamilton got onto the pole but made a horrible start, allowing Rosberg to grab the lead. Hamilton was able to charge back through the field and finish second, minimizing the damage of the poor start.

Updated ratings and analysis after the jump.

Rank+/-Driver TeamRating+/-
1 -- RosbergMercedes 1757 +20
2 +1 HamiltonMercedes 1554 +99
3 -1 RicciardoRed Bull 1514 -54
4 -- VettelFerrari 1501 +63
5 +1 RaikkonenFerrari 1418 +72
6 -1 VerstappenRed Bull 1381 -47
7 +2 BottasWilliams 1286 +95
8 -- PerezForce India 1236 +12
9 -2 HulkenbergForce India 1228 -61
10 +1 MassaWilliams 1072 +54
11 -1 ButtonMcLaren 1027 -86
12 +3 GrosjeanHaas 986 +45
13 +1 GutierrezHaas 980 +36
14 -1 AlonsoMcLaren 932 -20
15 -3 Sainz Jr.Toro Rosso 902 -92
16 +4 WehrleinManor 756 +64
17 -- KvyatToro Rosso 750 -10
18 -2 MagnussenRenault 699 -111
19 -- OconManor 692 -42
20 -2 PalmerRenault 680 -64
21 -- NasrSauber 604 +9
22 -- EricssonSauber 548 +20

Rosberg continues to expand his Elo rating lead over Hamilton, even though Hamilton has managed to take the lead in championship points. This combination of a dead-even championship points situation despite a big difference in Elo ratings is more reminiscent of 2014 than last year.

Elo ratings for Rosberg and Hamilton: 2014 - present
Elo confirms the intuition about the last three years: 2014 was a wildly inconsistent year for Hamilton, who only managed to really put away Rosberg in the end, while 2015 was smooth sailing for the Brit from the start of the year. By that measure, 2016 has been almost a mirror image of 2014. In fact, after 14 rounds in the 2014 season, Hamilton lead Rosberg by three points, 241 to 238. This year he has a two-point lead, 250 - 248. Elo-wise, after 14 races in 2014 Rosberg had a 1715-1559 lead over Hamilton, similar to his 1757-1554 lead currently.

What does Elo tell us? Let's take a look at these two drivers in terms of how they performed in qualifying and race day compared to their projected results based solely on Elo rating. A positive value indicates that a driver overperformed their projected result each race by that number of positions, whereas a negative value indicates that they underperformed each race by that number of positions.

YearDriverQualifying Race

In 2014, Rosberg overperformed in qualifying by almost a full grid spot ahead of where Elo projected he would end up. This isn't surprising, considering that Rosberg snagged 11 pole positions that year. On Sundays, though, Rosberg underperformed slightly. Hamilton, however, was in the opposite position; Saturdays saw him (on average) a quarter grid spot per race behind where he was expected to start, whereas on Sundays he finished almost a full two places ahead of where Elo expected he would be.

The following season saw Hamilton reverse his qualifying fortunes by a half spot per race, and essentially hit his targets on Sundays. Rosberg continued to overperform on Saturdays and underperform on Sundays.

This year Rosberg has continued to be a steady presence for Mercedes, overperforming his qualifying expectations but underperforming on Sundays. Hamilton has been downright bipolar, although a good chunk of his nearly-two-grid-spot underperformance has been down to mechanical issues. His Sunday drives have nearly made up for it, though, approaching 2014 levels of overachieving.

With seven races left this year, Hamilton will just need to avoid any back-of-grid starts as he faced in China or Belgium and continue to overperform on Sundays. Rosberg will need to pick up the pace on Sundays and stop getting outperformed by his teammate when points are on the line. It sounds like a simple enough plan, but the German has struggled for the last few years to come to grips with his World Championship teammate. If he wants to grab his first title, he'll need to produce results on Sundays.