Hello and welcome to the meant to be final F1 circuit cluster analysis blog, however, I have thought of some ideas to extend it to a fourth so we shall see how that goes. The idea is today we will review what we can from the season so far and in the next one look at some methods for predicting how the rest of the season will pan out. That one might not be until the summer break.
Above is a summary of the season with each circuit coloured by what cluster they belong to. Circuits have been clustered according to hierarchical clustering please see othe blogs in the series to see the method used. The tracks that belong in cluster 1 and 2 are pretty evenly distributed across the season. What is interesting the two wildcard tracks which don’t belong to any of the other three clusters are still to come. Could they prove crucial in the fight for the title?
Above you can see for each cluster the pace difference with 0 being the fastest car in each cluster up to around 3% which is the difference to the slowest car. The first thing to take away in cluster 1 and 2 Mercedes and Ferrari are neck and neck. Mercedes are slightly but only slightly quicker overall. Red Bull get better the with more lower speed corners and fewer straights there are. Highlighting the cars engine weakness. With cluster three the slow twisty circuits being their forte. They must be looking forward to Hungary next. Elsewhere apart from the top three one of the big stories is Haas. Their car looks well suited to the fast flowing circuits of cluster 1 but is the slowest in the stop-start circuits with short straights. That is clearly a car with strengths in high-speed downforce and engine power. The gap between the top 3 teams and the rest is pretty consistent across all the clusters.
Finally, we look at how the drivers rank at the different clusters. Some interesting points are apparent, In cluster 1 Hamilton seems to have a clear advantage over the others its close but he’s clearly on average faster than other drivers. There’s also a significant difference between Hamilton and his teammate Bottas showing fast twisty circuits could be Bottas weakness. Compared to cluster 2 where Hamilton, Vettel and Bottos are very evenly matched. At Ferrari Raikkonen is a lot closer to Vettel on the fast twisty circuits compared to cluster 2 which has much more large breaking zones and slower corners. The opposite pattern is seen at Red Bull Ricciardo is a good distance behind Verstappen on the fast twisty circuits but Ricciardo is actually slightly faster on the slower circuits. Elsewhere Alonso has a clear advantage over Vandoorne on both types of circuits.
So that’s it for today’s blog. I am going to put the R code for this on GitHub and the spreadsheet so if you have any further ideas what can be done with this dataset then id love to see what you come up with. There will be a fourth part in this series where we look at historical trends and then look at forecasting the future.