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Showing posts from August, 2016

Power Has a 28% Chance of Winning Watkins Glen or Sonoma

The IndyCar championship is down to just two races: Watkins Glen, where the series hasn't raced since 2010, and Sonoma. Will Power is trailing Simon Pagenaud by 28 points right now and most people say he'll need a win to have a shot at the championship. His rival has been very good at finishing races this year, so banking on another DNF from him isn't a worthy strategy. 
Using a binomial distribution -- which gives the chance of a certain number of successes (in our cases wins) occurring in a given number of trials (races) -- I calculated the odds of both Pagenaud and Power winning zero, one, or both of the races remaining. Their expected win probability was based off of their winning percentage from 2014 through Texas 2016. Here's what I found:

Both drivers are more likely than not to go winless over the last two races, which hurts the chaser more than the leader. Power has slightly better than a one in four chance of picking up a win. Securing two wins has less than…

The Qualifying Lap That Could Have Been: Belgium 2016

Vettel's best qualifying lap for the Belgian Grand Prix was 1:07.108. His theoretical best lap time was almost a full tenth faster at 1:07.013.

Wait what? His theoretical best time?

A driver's theoretical best time takes his best time from each of the three sectors throughout the qualifying session, no matter what lap or round they came in, and adds them together. This new theoretical best (from now on referred to as TB) is the best time the driver could have hoped to achieve if he ran all of his best sector times on the same lap.

Now, this isn't a perfect indication of what could be done by the driver. For example, perhaps the reason one driver has such a low sector one time (helping his TB) is because he braked for the corner that began sector two way too late and ran off the track. That sector one time he posted will still be included in his TB, but it's important to note that he could never complete a full lap while posting such a fast sector one time. So his TB tim…

We're Experiencing The Most Top-Heavy Championship Since 2011

It looks to me like we are having an unusual year of two strong title contenders followed by a big drop off. The gap between first and second place in the championship is 28 points with two races remaining. Kanaan is 113 points away from the leader in third place.
To see if this is actually unusual or simply the norm, I went back to all seasons 2009 and on and checked how many points per race the top two contenders were averaging together with two races remaining. I adjusted to account for double points races by making them count for two races. 
Here's what I found:

Power and Pagenaud are averaging 68.7 points per race together this year, the most by any championship-leading duo since 2011. These two drivers are running away with the championship and are the strongest in the field by a wide margin. You have to go back to the 2011 season led by Franchitti and Power to find a stronger pair of leaders. The two years preceding 2011 were also particularly strong, perhaps a sign of Ind…