- The Inside Line
Lies, damned lies, and statisticsKate Walker May 11, 2014
When Lewis Hamilton stood on the top step of the podium at the Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday, he finally ticked the Barcelona track off his list of un-won races. The only track left on the current calendar where the Mercedes driver has yet to secure a win is Interlagos, and 2014 could well be his year.
Not really a secret, of course. But when going through the list of Hamilton's wins after the race, an interesting 'pattern' (if you can call it that) began to emerge.
Since making his F1 debut at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has raced on 24 different circuits when you take into account both German tracks, Indianapolis, and Austin. And of those 24, he has won at 19. With the exception of Interlagos, each of the five tracks without a win for Lewis has since fallen off the Formula One calendar: the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, the European Grand Prix in Valencia, and F1's short-lived flirtations with South Korea and India.
The beauty of statistics is that they can often be manipulated to tell whatever story you want. It's easily done when 87% of all stats are made up on the spot.
Several years ago I remember being shown an F1 fan site dedicated to spotting patterns of the strangest sort and attempting to use those patterns to predict wins. Pole-sitters who don't shake their team-mate's hand after qualifying always lose three places on the start, for example, or race winners who hug their team with both feet off the ground will retire from the next grand prix.
It was obviously a labour of love, and one that involved a lot of time and effort on the part of the site creators, but it was a bit silly.
And there's nothing wrong with that - we all need a bit of silly every once in a while, and especially after a 66-lap race that was only exciting for the last few (mostly processional but at least slightly tense) laps.
Which is why I have chosen to interpret the location of Lewis' wins as a predictor for the longevity of a circuit. We may have arrived in Barcelona wondering whether the stricken Spanish economy would prevent us from racing here long-term, but Hamilton's win on Sunday afternoon means that Catalunya will be around for many years to come.
The stats don't lie, if you interpret them badly enough.