Lewis Hamilton’s seventh world title, clinched today in Turkey, revives debate about whether he is the greatest Formula 1 driver of all time.
The Briton has now equalled Michael Schumacher’s record for the most championships, and, with 94, has won more races than anyone else.
But what if you could objectively compare drivers from different eras, and allow for factors such as who has the best car?
Carteret Analytics has used quantitative analysis methods borrowed from investment banking in an attempt to do just that.
The company, which crunches numbers for several leading English football clubs, has calculated an overall rating for every world champion since Formula 1 began in 1950.
This “Carteret Rating” is based on five key attributes:
- Expected wins (xW) — how well a driver should have done
- Speed, normalised to take into account different eras and cars
- Agility — how well drivers adapted to major changes, such as new cars
- Dominance — how much better they were than their rivals
- Consistency — how well they managed to sustain high performance
So who is the greatest Formula 1 driver ever?
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Juan Manuel Fangio, not Hamilton, is top of the rankings.
Argentinian Fangio, who won his five titles over a seven-year period in the 1950s, excelled in all categories.
Hamilton is second. His Agility rating suffers as he has only won titles at two teams to Fangio’s four.
The British driver could improve his rating and surpass Fangio if he continues to race and maintains his standard.
Italian Alberto Ascari is the surprise name in fourth, behind Schumacher. The two-time champion is rated the fastest driver on the list.
Britain’s Sir Sterling Moss was included in the research as perhaps the greatest driver not to win a title. He ranks 11th.
To read the full research paper, visit Carteret Analytics’ site here.