Formula 1 and Amazon Web Services have released the results of a study that concludes Ayrton Senna is the fastest driver the sport has ever seen with Lewis Hamilton ranked third.
The study was designed to remove "car differential" from the equation and ranks the qualifying pace of drivers from 1983 onwards.
To do this, the differential in lap time between a driver and their respective team-mate has been used. Then, resetting the margin of table topping Ayrton Senna to zero, the results of subsequent drivers reflect the difference between Senna's result and their own.
The list features four 2020 drivers as well as Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard set to return to the sport in 2021 with Renault.
As said, Senna tops the list with Michael Schumacher second by +0.114 seconds. Hamilton is third at +0.275 seconds with Max Verstappen fourth just four milliseconds further back.
Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Charles Leclerc follow with Heikki Kovalainen a surprise entry in seventh.
The Finn only took one victory during his Formula 1 career, the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix, but these figures suggest he had the pace to have deserved more opportunities than he was granted.
F1 director of data systems Rob Smedley said of the study: “Within the team environment this type of modelling is used to make key decisions on driver choices.
"As drivers are more often than not the most expensive asset of the team it is important that the selection process is as robust as possible. A process such as this therefore would be deployed by the F1 team’s strategists in order to present the most objective and evidence-based selection possible.
"Fastest Driver enables us to build up a picture of how the drivers compare, by analysing the purest indication of raw speed, the qualifying lap – and it’s important to note this pure speed is the only element of the vast driver armoury we are analysing here, to showcase the quickest drivers ever, which is very exciting.”
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