Scotland’s Dario Franchitti pipped England’s Jenson Button to the title of top British driver of 2009 in the BritsOnPole.com All-Star League.
Superleague’s Craig Dolby and the Star Mazda Championship’s Adam Christodoulou flew the flag for the less fashionable corners of open-wheel racing against the aristocracy of Formula One and the IndyCar Racing League.
The top three – IndyCar’s Franchitti, F1’s Button and Christodoulou – all won their championships, while fourth-placed Hamilton is, of course, an ex-F1 champion.
That made the achievement of the rest of the top 10 – Dolby, BRDC award-winner Alexander Sims, Star Mazda’s Richard Kent, and incoming GP2 Asia drivers Max Chilton, Oliver Turvey and Sam Bird – all the more impressive.
At the other end of the table Greg Mansell competed 16 times without a top eight finish and so propped up the standings.
How it’s calculated
Comparing drivers in different series is difficult for a number of reasons – factors such as length of season, strength of opposition and how many points to award all had to be taken into account. Here’s what we did:
- Championships: We decided to include as many championships as possible, so long as they were open-wheel, not completely comprised of British drivers, broadly summer-based, and pitted driver against driver instead of teams. We rolled the last few GP2 Asia races into the main GP2 season, just in case James Jakes managed to land a drive in the European-based version. We were initially going to omit both A1GP and Superleague Formula because they are team-based, with drivers swapping in and out of cars branded to match countries or football teams. A1GP was also pretty much over for the year when everyone else was just beginning. But we put Superleague in after all, by request.
- Points: These had to be equalised, as different series have different policies. When Stanton Barrett crashed in practice at the Milwaukee Mile, damaging his car too badly to even qualify for the IRL’s ABC Supply Company / A.J. Foyt 225, he was given six championship points. The previous weekend, Kimi Raikkonen had been given the same number for finishing on the podium at F1’s Monaco Grand Prix. One points system produces much the same outcome as any other over a full season, so we chose the F1 system of 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, then nothing for 9th place and below.
- Season length: From the 12 races of the Atlantic Championship to the 24 GP2 and GP2 Asia races in the time period covered, season lengths vary wildly. And this, of course, means that some drivers have many more opportunities to pile up points than others. To address this we used a 17-race season as a base, since this is what both F1 and the IRL are running in 2009, and worked out a coefficient by which to multiply the points in other series so that, across a full season, everyone had the opportunity to earn the same number of points if they won every race. This means that twice as many points per race are up for grabs in the Atlantics than in GP2 – because there are only half the races. And then, to get rid of all the ugly fractions, we multiplied everything by 10.
- Competition: When Mike Conway finally broke his duck in the IRL with an eighth place in Iowa, he did so again far stronger opposition than Adam Christodoulou and Richard Kent faced when the Star Mazda Championship raced at the same circuit. To reflect this, we grouped the series into three bands: the two senior championships of F1 and the IRL, the feeder series of GP2, Indy Lights, F2 and the Atlantics, and the development series – all the rest. Senior points count full, feeder series points count at two-thirds value, and development championships count half. This had the added effect of preventing the top of the table being swamped by drivers from series with a large number of British drivers and, therefore, an increased chance of a British winner. Once again, we rounded off to avoid fractions.
- Tiebreaks: Some apparent ties happen only because of the rounding-off process that occurs during the calculation: the spreadsheet we use to compile the raw data takes this into account and ranks the drivers according to the underlying precise score. Where this is not relevant – primarily drivers with no points – we use the number of races competed in, working on the basis that it is a sign of a stronger performance to take fewer races than a rival to reach the same points score. Conversely, the more races run without scoring a point the worse the overall performance. Where this also results in a tie, we use the strength of the series in which the driver is competing. Beyond that, it’s unlikely that anyone cares…
This table shows the points available in each series, with their number of races, points co-efficient and weighting.
|Indy Racing League||17||1||100||80||60||50||40||30||20||10||A||1|
|GP2 Asia / GP2||24||0.71||71||57||43||36||28||21||14||7||B||0.66|
|Star Mazda Championship||13||1.31||131||105||79||66||52||39||26||13||C||0.5|
|World Series by Renault||17||1||100||80||60||50||40||30||20||10||C||0.5|
|British F3 International||20||0.85||85||68||51||43||34||26||17||9||C||0.5|
|F3 Euro Series||20||0.85||85||68||51||43||34||26||17||9||C||0.5|