WHO IS THE GREATEST?
Here at Sports Annual we believe the greatest race driver in history is the guy that ... pound for pound ... won the most races and scored the most points. To find out who we developed a formula that measures wins and points per start. When we apply this method in Formula One ... Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina beats everyone by a huge margin.
Let's look at Fangio's numbers to see how the formula works. It's in two parts. The first part measures ...
STARTS PER WIN
Put simply ... Fangio won roughly half his races. 24 races from 51 starts. We simply divide 51 with 24 and find Fangio started 2.125 races for every win he took.
Jochen Rindt won six races from 60 starts ... so that's one win from 10 which we record as 10.000 race per win (rpw)
Rene Arnoux won seven of his 149 starts ... so that's 21.285 rpw. And so it goes ... pretty simple stuff. We rank pound for pound because ten wins from 60 starts isn't the same as ten from 200. It doesn't matter what era.
But it's not enough.
Firstly ... drivers often share win rates. Further ... the main goal of a racing driver is winning the championship. What happens when a driver didn't win the race? Did he come second? Fifth? Did he win 40 per cent of his races and crash in the rest? Winning the championship is the real goal of a race driver ... which means point scoring is everything. Let's return to Fangio and see how Sports Annual measures this.
POINTS PER RACE (PPR)
Looking through the history books at a points tally is useless to compare drivers because different eras awarded different points. Today's drivers get 25 points for a win ... 50s drivers got 8. Sports Annual calculates point scoring using one system ... the 10 - 6 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 formula. We simply went back through the history of the sport and applied that formula to every winning driver's results from 1950 until today.
Here we describe Fangio as having scored 319 championship points across his career ... a career point scoring average of 5.941 points per race. It is, on this table, a huge number.
Senna scored (10 -1) 4.025 points per race. That's an awful lot of prize money in any era ... and very close to the front. But it's not Fangio. As you can see it's not close.
When we put these two measurements together we get the Sports Annual score. The perfect score would therefore be one race per win and ten points per race. 1.000 rpw / 10.000 ppr.
1 race per win
10 points per race
The perfect score ... this driver would have won every race he started.
The driver who career results are closest to that perfect score ... well that's the best driver at winning races and scoring points. That's history's best race driver.
And it's Juan Manuel Fangio.
His score is ...
The next question is ... who came second? Who came third. Who came 26th. Where is Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo?
Welcome to History's World Championship.
Industrial spec fine print ...
At Sports Annual we don't apply points for pole or fastest lap or any result back from sixth to any driver from any era. We follow the FIA's lead on shared points for shared drives. We could point back to tenth but it's too recent to be comparable across the great majority of the sport's history.
To be ranked racers must win a race in a championship in which they are proven and definitive competitors. A team or racer entering only one race in a season and winning doesn't qualify.
Such a win wouldn't have carried the burden of championship contention ... which complicates and alters car or bike construction and set up and team and driver behaviour on the track. This measurement is all about championship racing.
Just one more finer point ... about points. They matter here.
Despite very different careers both Peter Collins and Mario Andretti have an identical win rate of 10.667 starts per win. But Collins leads Andretti here because on average he scored more points (1.7 per race vs 1.5 per race). Pretty straight forward. But something interesting happens when you add Jody Scheckter to that battle.
Let's open that part of the F1 table.
23. Jochen Rindt (A) 10.000 rpw / 1.916 ppr (60 starts ... 6 wins ... 115 career points)
24. E. Fittipaldi (BRA) 10.285 rpw / 2.048 ppr (144 starts ... 14 wins ... 295 career points)
25. J. Scheckter (SA) 11.200 rpw / 2.366 ppr (112 starts ... 10 wins ... 265 career points)
26. Peter Collins (GB) 10.667 rpw / 1.744 ppr (32 starts ... 3 wins ... 55.833 career points)
27. M. Andretti (USA) 10.667 rpw /1.500 ppr (128 starts ... 12 wins ... 192 career points)
28. G. Villeneuve (CAN) 11.166 rpw / 1.686 ppr (67 starts ... 6 wins ... 113 caeer points)
Jody Scheckter's win rate should see him four places further back on the grid ... behind Gilles Villeneuve. We place Scheckter in 25th because when the numbers were finished we noticed his point scoring was way ahead of his rivals. In short ... at Sports Annual when a driver's lead on points outweighs a rival's lead on wins ... the greater value prevails.
It works the other way around too. Scheckter scored better points than Fittipaldi but not enough to outweight Emerson's win rate.
It's a subjective calculation after a fashion ... after a fashion ... but we believe this way is true to the spirit of motor sport. We believe it looks right because it is right. Every point matters. Drivers or riders have risked their lives over a single Championship point. They still do.
Having devised the formula ... the formula has a life of its own. We can all have opinions about this driver or that driver but here at Sports Annual it's all about track results.
There is nothing subjective here. The race is in the drivers' hands.
2.125 races per win
5.941 points per race
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