• James Smith

History of F1 World Champions



Formula 1 Project Part III – World champions This visualisation displays the race to the title in each of F1’s seasons to date. It does so by calculating the running total of points from the first to the final race of the season and presenting them as streaming lines.

This allows for a quick visual analysis of which seasons were fiercely contested (1981, 2008, 2010) and which were won at a stroll with one driver steaming out in front (1963, 2002, 2014).


By colouring the lines by team, it also permits the viewer to see which seasons were tightly fought between team mates. In 1988 & 2016, McLaren (Senna & Prost) and Mercedes (Rosberg & Hamilton) respectively allowed their two world-class drivers to compete with one another. This lead to enthralling contests that were largely two horse races due to the superiority of the particular car over the rest of the field.


Look at the World Championships of Schumacher and Vettel, however, and a different story emerges – the strategy of the team permitted their ‘lead’ driver to concentrate on winning races while the second driver largely played a supporting role.


It also displays the changing length of seasons. The Championships in the 1950s and early 60s look crowded and the lines appear stunted. This is because there were considerably fewer races in a season (the first ever season had just 7 races, today’s calendar attempts to squeeze in over 20 races).


Another trend emerges when moving down the trellis of line graphs. Lines begin to become straighter as car reliability improves. With the exception of a few seasons (1952, 1963), the 1950s through to the mid 1980s show largely jagged lines, with shallow lines illustrating low point finishes and flat lines being a zero points finish. Compare this to the lines of winning drivers in the 2000s onwards, where on some occasions there are no breaks at all (2002,2014).


As for the most competitively fought seasons, the clustering of lines from the mid 1970s through to the early 80s appears to suggest that a large numbers were involved in the title fight until the closing stages of the season. This pattern emerges again in 2008-2010. In more recent seasons, the pattern is of Ferrari and Red Bull contesting behind the dominant Mercedes, with team mates battling to come out on top and picking up race wins whenever the Mercedes falters.


Full viz available on Tableau Public here

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