Converting poles to wins


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With all the recent talk about Lewis Hamilton setting a new record for number of poles taken I thought it would be interesting to look at the number of times a driver converted a pole in to a race win. To do this I simply counted the number of times a driver had won from pole in his career and divided this by the number of race wins.

The factors that help a car take pole position have changed over the years. In the mid 80's for example, we had qualy tyres and even qualy engines that would maybe last 2 or 3 laps before blowing up. There were and still are a number of drivers noted for their ability to extract speed from a car over a single lap to produce some impressive qualifying times relative to the performance of the car. More so these days, if the car itself is a dominant one it tends to be so over the whole race weekend.

For the benefit of comparison I have used the top 20 drivers as listed on Wikipedia by number of race wins. The figures are rounded up / down to two figures.

Ayrton Senna - 71%
Nico Rosberg - 65%
Lewis Hamilton - 64%
Sebastian Vettel - 63%
Juan Manual Fangio - 63%
Jim Clark - 60%
Nigel Mansell - 55%
Mika Hakkinen - 50%
Stirling Moss - 50%
Fernando Alonso - 44%
Michael Schumacher - 43%
Jack Brabham - 43%
Alain Prost - 35%
Damon Hill - 32%
Niki Lauda - 32%
Kimi Raikkonen - 30%
Jenson Button - 27%
Jackie Stewart - 26%
Nelson Piquet - 22%
Emerson Fittipaldi - 21%
I was shocked about Schumacher being so far down until I remembered he was during the era of qualifying with the amount of fuel you started the race with and people used to qualify on fumes for the headlines.

Alonso is shockingly low though.

Interesting that Hamilton and Vettel are pretty much level - especially when Vettel got given the tag of 'can only win from pole' earlier in his career.
I keep looking for trends in the data but its very difficult to extract anything from it. If you look at the last 3 names on the list they won 8 world championships between them.
This is interesting but not the whole story. If you take away the races where the pole sitter has had a car failure then Fangio, for instance, would be much higher up the list.
It is strange numbers.
" the number of times a driver had won from pole in his career and divided this by the number of race wins"
is not
" a driver converted a pole in to a race win"
For this stats are needing counted
the number of times a driver had won from pole and divided this by the number of race poles.

This is compare poles Vs doubles and % doubles to poles for 20 drivers with largest poles number:
N - Driver - Races - Poles - Doubles - Doubles/Poles
1 - Lewis Hamilton - 201 - 69 - 38 - 55,07
2 - Michael Schumacher - 308 - 68 - 40 - 58,82
3 - Ayrton Senna - 162 - 65 - 29 - 44,62
4 - Sebastian Vettel - 192 - 48 - 29 - 60,42
5 - Jim Clark - 72 - 33 - 15 - 45,45
6 - Alain Prost - 201 - 33 - 18 - 54,55
7 - Nigel Mansell - 189 - 32 - 17 - 53,13
8 - Nico Rosberg - 206 - 30 - 15 - 50,00
9 - Juan Manuel Fangio - 51 - 29 - 15 - 51,72
10 - Mika Häkkinen - 164 - 26 - 10 - 38,46
11 - Niki Lauda - 173 - 24 - 9 - 37,50
12 - Nelson Piquet - 206 - 24 - 5 - 20,83
13 - Fernando Alonso - 286 - 22 - 14 - 63,64
14 - Damon Hill - 122 - 20 - 7 - 35,00
15 - Mario Andretti - 129 - 18 - 8 - 44,44
16 - René Arnoux - 162 - 18 - 2 - 11,11
17 - Jackie Stewart - 100 - 17 - 8 - 47,06
18 - Kimi Räikkönen - 266 - 17 - 6 - 35,29
19 - Stirling Moss - 66 - 16 - 8 - 50,00
20 - Felipe Massa - 264 - 16 - 8 - 50,00

From the above we could to see that between of the drivers with sufficient number of poles for statistics
Alonso best of all implements his poles
I think looking at this the other way would add context, by looking at how many of the pole positions led to a race win?
In the 50s, 60s and 70s, the front row was as much as FOUR cars wide!!! Thus pole position wasn't as important then because just being on the front row meant you basically had as much chance as the pole sitter to get into the lead off the starting line.

Today's staggered grids amplify the importance of pole position because the probability of passing the pole sitter is greatly reduced.
I think looking at this the other way would add context, by looking at how many of the pole positions led to a race win?

That's what I've done in my initial figures. They are a percentage of poles by the driver that lead to a win so for example, 71% of Senna's poles lead to a race win. This also shows that he won 29% of his races from a position other than on pole which isn't a great deal really.
Sorry, i simply meant a pole conversion rate.

E.g driver x has 2 race wins, 1 from pole, and only one pole, his pole conversion would be 100%, but his wins from pole ratio would be 50%.

What i find interesting is just how close Lewis and Seb are, despite the differing views that they seem to attract.

I am sure there is something else here too, which i may try to look at, to take in to account outlier starting positions, and finishing position, to also account for those brilliant recovery drives grom 18th to 3rd etc which are not always fully considered.
Vettel and Hamilton are essentially members of the same type - blindingly quick and often unassailable if at the front in a quick car.

Alonso had never had the absolute fastest car for a full season. McLaren were quicker for much of 2005 but so fragile; Ferrari were quicker for the second half of 2006 and were dominant at some circuits in 2007 too.
Pole positions are super important - the ultimate time trial, how can they not be important? Watching the last few minutes of Q3 is often the most exciting part of a race weekend.
vintly Pole positions are important nowadays, as they are an essential factor to winning the race. In the past however, whilst achieving pole position also contributed to a successful race, pole position was of lesser significance due to fuel load playing a strategic role in the race.
Therefore, the comparison to other drivers is rather pointless and the record is trivial.

Qualifying sessions have been dull in recent past, although how recent is the recent past, let's say the last four seasons, as it was always and still is a question of how large the margin between the Mercedes and the rest will be.
Rutherford I agree in part about comparisons being trivial, but not completely pointless, even if they are to be ignored due to the changing nature of the sport over time. However, it's a stat, and we NEED STATS.

I've found recent quali sessions (Q3 at least) to be absolutely consuming, great action. It's the fastest those cars will ever go, in their current formula, on that particular track. I would hope one day that time trials make up some of the championship points - why not? Why should it only be restricted to race-craft sessions? An ideal race weekend for me would include a 50 lap race perhaps, and also a time-trial for championship points. I'd love to see a generic 'F1-owned and run' car that every driver had to do a timed hot lap on a given track, one weekend of the year, to see how they match up against each other in the same machine – but perhaps that's unrealistic as it would get pranged by someone and then the session's over...
I'm afraid I couldn't disagree more. If you want top speeds and time trials there is drag racing. F1 is and always will be about racing.
How funny to read that the record of poles is "trivial" or worth nothing ...
In order to make sure that is not true and such statements is nonsense,
just look at how the drivers strive to earn the pole.
After the cancel of refueling value of the poles has very increased.
And frequently the fight for pole on Saturday it appears no less spectacular
than what is happening in the race in Sunday
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From a racing point of view, olegg, pole position in modern F1 is almost vital. However, my problem with all records in F1 today (not just pole) is that they have been devalued by the lack of competitiveness on the grid and the much larger number of races on the calender.

Michael Schumacher was, without doubt, one of the greatest drivers ever to sit in an F1 car but in 2002 Schumie won 11 of the 17 races and then 13 of 18 in 2004. Yes, he won the races as he was a great driver in a car that was the class of the field. In terms of the challenge and challengers there was very little (none?). This doesn't devalue his achievement but it needs to be put in perspective.

The comment which sticks with me over recent years was when Hamilton made comments about the quality of Indy car racing and the drivers after Alonso went to the 500 and came close to winning. The very cutting remark from one of the American drivers was that Lewis finished second in a two car championship in F1. Just about sums it up really.
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