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F1 & AWS reveal fastest drivers of the last 40 years

August 18, 2020

Another day, another nonsense release from an F1 desperate for social media traction.

This time they, and Amazon Web Services, have used ‘machine learning’ and ‘tapped into cloud computing’ to rank the top drivers of the last 40 years on pure speed, using data they’ve collected and processed from qualifying since 1983.

In a project that has allegedly taken them a year (and for which ex-Williams man Rob Smedley can take at least partial ‘credit’) they’ve produced a list of what they claim definitively are the ‘fastest drivers’ of the modern era.

Sadly for them, like a lot of algorithms making the news in the past few weeks, theirs is complete bollocks and it’s produced some seriously questionable results that should have had the bods at Amazon Web Services running back to the drawing board, confident that whatever criteria they’ve used to produce this list must be wrong.

That is, of course, unless they A. Have absolutely no knowledge of Formula 1 prior to about 2014, or B. are guilty of deliberately compiling a list that most sensible people will consider controversial at best, and fundamentally flawed at worse, and it will provoke debate, keeping Formula 1 in the conversation in a week where there is no Grand Prix to speak of.

My concern about point B would be that while that’s great for F1, Amazon Web Services – self acclaimed data specialists – look like complete chumps.

And so, to the list…

‘The fastest Formula 1 drivers of all time’ according to F1 and AWS

1 Ayrton Senna0.275s
2Michael Schumacher0.114s
3Lewis Hamilton0.275s
4Max Verstappen0.280s
5Fernando Alonso0.309s
6Nico Rosberg0.374s
7Charles Leclerc0.376s
8Heikki Kovalainen0.378s
9Jarno Trulli0.409s
10Sebastian Vettel0.435s
11Rubens Barrichello0.445s
12Nico Hulkenberg0.456s
13Valtteri Bottas0.457s
14Carlos Sainz0.457s
15Lando Norris0.459s
16Daniel Ricciardo0.461s
17Jenson Button0.462s
18Robert Kubica0.463s
19Giancarlo Fisichella0.469s
20Alain Prost0.514s

And so there you have it. Lando Norris is ‘faster’ than two time World Champion Mika (outqualified Ayrton Senna on his McLaren debut) Hakkinen who doesn’t make the list.

Heikki Kovalainen, with his four F1 podiums is ‘faster’ than Nigel Mansell, who also failed to make the list.

Nico Hulkenberg, who famously has never stood on an F1 podium is faster than F1 great and four time F1 World Champion Alain Prost. (hilariously, Prost wouldn’t be in the top ten of quickest drivers if he were around today according to these jokers!)

Half the list consists of current #F1 drivers, but there’s no mention of (aside from the aforementioned F1 legends) World Champions Nelson Piquet, Kimi Raikkonen, Niki Lauda, and Damon Hill, who are all ‘slower’ than Carlos Sainz. Not to mention any of the drivers from pre-1983 that made our sport what it is today.

I know, I know, I shouldn’t buy into all this ‘fastest driver’ nonsense – it’s all just fluff. But on the other hand, Formula 1 has such a rich heritage and it’s being glossed over – especially for fans new to the sport.

And with the state of F1 in 2020, it might be better if we focus on that a lot more, rather than ignoring it in favour of the beige-fest we see today.


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