Sunday, March 12, 2017

The St. Petersburg Scorecard -- 2017

Hey there Internet, it's Guido back with another Scoring Indy update. It's a new season, and we've got lots to do! First off, some changes to our metrics for the new season and something special I'm working on for May. After that, we'll get to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and a great performance by Sebastien Bourdais and Dale Coyne, the Napoleon of Race Strategy. Let's get to it!

New Year, New Me

Maybe not "New Me" exactly, but new philosophy with our metrics here at Scoring Indy. In the past, I've tried my hardest to give you guys a true Race Score. That is to say, a measure of the true quality of a driver's race, which accounts for on track performance, where they start and finish the race. And, I think I've done that. The only problem with that is in order to do what I feel is the best job of giving that to you, I need to include drivers' Average Running Position. Now, to the best of my knowledge, this statistic is not freely available on the internet, and this has resulted in me doing a whole lot of manual data entry, which led (quite frankly) to a high deal of burnout on my part. If you've followed me for any length of time, you know that I (almost) never manage to finish the season. I just get bogged down.

Now, I'm not the sort of person to focus on the negatives, so instead of getting all frustrated, I've decided to focus on what I can reasonably do. And, what I can reasonably do is provide you with metrics that only require a little bit of data entry on my part. So, I started thinking about what I could do in that regard, and I've come up with a couple things, which I'll talk about below. And, fear not, I haven't abandoned my old stuff. If I ever find Average Running Position available somewhere I'll jump right back into those metrics, since I like them a great deal.

The 2017 Metrics

So, what are we doing on the blog this year, as far as metrics are concerned? Well, as I said, I was looking for what I could do without doing hours and hours of data entry. And, I remembered my original formula for doing (what I then called) Race Scores. It accounts for: finishing position, laps led, laps completed, and positions gained/lost start to finish. I can enter all these things at once and generate a score quickly. So, I'm re-branding this metric as "Performance Score" and I'll be putting it here on the blog this year.

The other metric, which I'm hoping to unveil around the month of May also requires a minimal amount of data entry (at least once the spreadsheet is set up). This year, I'm hoping to publish Elo Ratings for drivers here at Scoring Indy. I'm sure I'll talk more in depth about Elo Ratings in another blog post, but suffice it to say, they're a method of overall driver comparison. It's a pet metric of that statistical city on a hill: FiveThirtyEight, and it's the way that international chess measures player strength. Like I said, more on that later. For now, let's get to St. Pete.

The Scorecard

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

FinishDriverGridLedCompletedPerf. Score

Quick Hits

- A word about Performance Scores as a metric. These numbers basically measure how a driver "should" feel about their performance. (This differentiates it from the Race Score metric, which aims to be a true measurement of drive quality.) Also, this is a relative metric. With this measurement, for instance, we see that Ed Jones should feel better about his P10 drive than Josef Newgarden should about his P8 trip. Now, does this mean Jones had a "better" day than Newgarden? Not necessarily, we'd need a Race Score to tell us that. Rather this tells us that Jones had a "more satisfying" drive than Newgarden did.

- Just look at that Performance Score for Sebastien Bourdais. 128.98 is an incredible number, and Bourdais should rightly be thrilled about winning in St. Pete after causing a red flag in qualifying. I've called Dale Coyne the Napoleon of Race Strategy on this blog before, and he certainly put his driver in a position to win this race, both with car setup and pit calls.

- I wish I had more numbers on a couple drivers. Here's this race's list: I want Spencer Piggot's Average Running Position. Same goes for Takuma Sato. I'd like to know how many on-track passes Ed Jones made. (I know that his teammate, Bourdais, made a great deal of such passes, I'd like to see Jones' number). Finally, I'd like to see James Hinchcliffe's lap times when leading versus when he was "in traffic."

Stay Tuned

OK, that's all I have for this race. It feels good to be back. I'm sure I'll post at least a little between now and Long Beach. Follow me on Twitter @ScoringIndy for updates! Enjoy the races, I'll see you out there!!

-- Guido