It was a close one. Igor Fraga vs Liam Lawson, points after each race:

They were always within 20 points of each other:

That one Hampton Downs race, where Lawson briefly lost power and got hit from behind, had disproportionate impact on the championship, more than any race victory by either driver.

Fraga and Lawson are headed to FIA F3 next. I recalculated the TRS results using FIA F3 scoring, which also awards reduced points for reversed grid races. Result: Lawson wins 226:216.

By F3 scoring, Lawson led almost throughout the championship, only trailing once, by 1 point, after his Hampton Downs retirement.

Neither competitor ever finished below 8th place. Comparing the scoring systems, one can conclude that TRS essentially gives about 10 points just for finishing, or equivalently imposes a 10 point penalty for a non-finish.

Place

TRS

F3

TRS rev

F3 rev

1

35

25

20

15

2

31

18

18

12

3

27

15

16

10

4

24

12

14

8

5

22

10

12

6

6

20

8

10

4

7

18

6

9

2

8

16

4

8

1

“rev” = reversed grid races

Final remark: in the points-free comparison of sorted results, from best to worst, Lawson beats or matches Fraga in all except the last line.

Fraga

vs

Lawson

1

=

1

1

=

1

1

=

1

1

=

1

2

<

1

2

=

2

2

=

2

3

<

2

3

=

3

4

<

3

4

=

4

5

=

5

6

<

5

7

<

6

8

>

Ret

Last line trumped the rest of them

(By the way, I am glad that Fraga won, I was rooting for him. But that is besides the point.)

I try to track the movement of drivers between the following categories: F1, F2, F3, F3R, and F4. Here F3R (“regional F3”) category also includes Formula Renault and Euroformula Open.

F2 to F1

Nicholas Latifi

F3 to F2

Marcus Armstrong

Felipe Drugovich

Christian Lundgaard

Pedro Piquet

Robert Shwartzman

Yuki Tsunoda

Aside: Jüri Vips moving from F3 to Super Formula.

F3R to F2

Guilherme Samaia

Daniel Ticktum

This is an oversimplification of events, but most of Ticktum’s races in 2019 were on F3R level.

Aside: Pietro Fittipaldi moving from F3 Asia to Super Formula.

F3R to F3

Olli Caldwell

Jack Doohan

Enzo Fittipaldi

Igor Fraga

Federico Malvestiti

Matteo Nannini

Oscar Piastri

David Schumacher

Alexander Smolyar

Frederik Vesti

Calan Williams

F4 to F3

Dennis Hauger

Théo Pourchaire

Skipping F3R is a bold move, and the only two drivers to attempt it in 2020 are the winners of two most competitive F4 championships: Italy and Germany.

F4 to F3R

William Alatalo

Paul Aron

Ido Cohen

Hadrien David

Alessandro Famularo

Reshad de Gerus

Gillian Henrion

Arthur Leclerc

Zane Maloney

Gianluca Petecof

Grégoire Saucy

Roman Staněk

Glenn van Berlo

This list is inevitably incomplete due to the fuzziness of F3R category.

The 2020 roster of Ferrari Driver Academy looks impressive, with 5 of 9 drivers having already reached Formula 2. But with very little room available at the highest step of the ladder, chances are that only a small fraction of them will reach it. Instead of making predictions on this matter, I will simply rank them using a few hugely flawed metrics and pick top 5 each time.

Simplified Super Licence Points

Following the method of a previous post, I count only the Super Licence points earned in F2 and FIA F3 in the past two seasons.

Robert Shwartzman 50

Marcus Armstrong 33

Mick Schumacher 30

Callum Ilott 15

Giuliano Alesi 3

The rest have not yet reached the aforementioned series.

Number of races won

Not counting karting, of course. As the previous indicator, this one favors more experienced drivers; but the amount of experience is also a relevant thing to consider here.

Mick Schumacher 29

Marcus Armstrong 26

Robert Shwartzman 16

Callum Ilott 11

Enzo Fittipaldi 10

Winning percentage

I expected this to favor the less experienced drivers, who spent more of their time in lower level series. But the list looks quite similar to the previous one.

Mick Schumacher 16.4%

Marcus Armstrong 15.8%

Robert Shwartzman 9.7%

Enzo Fittipaldi 9.1%

(tie) Arthur Leclerc and Gianluca Petecof 7.5%

Number of podiums

These are the same 5 drivers as in the list based on the number of wins, but they are not in the same order.

Marcus Armstrong 76

Robert Shwartzman 63

Mick Schumacher 51

Enzo Fittipaldi 36

Callum Ilott 32

Podium percentage

Marcus Armstrong 46.1%

Arthur Leclerc 40%

Robert Shwartzman 38.2%

Enzo Fittipaldi 32.7%

Mick Schumacher 28.8%

Summary

Dino Beganovic, who is yet to make his single-seater debut, could not possibly appear in any of the above lists. Giuliano Alesi only appears as #5 on the Super Licence list. Overall, the top 3 are clearly Armstrong, Schumacher, and Shwartzman but at this point I cannot put them in any order other than alphabetical. If this is not a satisfactory conclusion, you can look at the Future Racing Stars ranking from Driver Database, which was also my source for most of the above statistics.

Who had a better season? Looks pretty clear to me.

Yet, Shwartzman became the champion with 916 points versus 911 for Verschoor. Because for the TRS scoring system it did not matter much who won a race, or in what order the drivers finished it, as long as they finished at all. The second place was worth 67/75 = 89.3% of the first place; for example, 9 second places were valued more than 8 wins. Even finishing last, in the 13th place (there were never more than 13 cars on the grid) was worth 26 points, a third of a race win. Verschoor had one retirement, and that was it.

Forward to 2020

The scoring system is different now. It no longer attempts to distribute points among (non-existent) 30 cars on the grid. Just among the 20. And finishing 2nd is no longer worth 89.3% of winning a race. It’s just 88.9%. And 9 second places are now worth exactly the same as 8 wins.

So, not much changed in essence, except for the value of finishing last (now 1 point compared to 26 in 2018). But finishing last was not the issue in 2018: neither Verschoor nor Shwartzman were ever classified below 6th.

The amounts being different between three races held each weekend, I use averages: the first place gets (35+20+35)/3 = 30 points on average, while the second place gets (31+18+31)/3 = 26.7 points and the third (21+16+21)/3 = 23.3.

After the first round in 2020, Liam Lawson has 82 points while his expected rival Ciao Collet has 18 (car damage + a cruel and unusual penalty). Which in the TRS reality means that Collet might as well pack and go on vacation. Even if he wins all of remaining 12 races, and Lawson gets an equal mix of 2nd and 3rd places, the championship will be decided by:

Collet: 18 + 12*30 = 378

Lawson: 82 + 6*26.7 + 6*23.3 = 382

Sure, Lawson might retire too. But what fun is a championship that hinges on retirements rather than victories?

What if

If 2020 scoring (for “normal” races) was applied to 2018 results, Verschoor would have won by 1 point: 418 : 417. I do not take it to mean that the problem was fixed, though. The table at the beginning of this post is telling me the championship was not that close. With the current F1/F2/F3 scoring, Verschoor would have won 261 : 233, clinching the title with a race to spare.

Disclaimer

This is not meant to be an anti-Shwartzman post. He did not invent the scoring system. Handed an early advantage due to Verschoor’s retirement in Round 1, he did what he had to do to maintain the championship lead and minimize the risk of losing it.

FIA Super Licence points are too complicated for most people to follow in detail, especially when quite a few otherwise eligible series fail to reach the required grid size.

This does not stop series organizers and commentators from talking up the point amounts at any opportunity (aside: if during a race, a commentator cannot find a more interesting subject than Super License points, perhaps the series isn’t good enough to be awarding them). The points earned at F4 and regional F3 levels do matter for getting Grade A licence, but in most cases they will either expire or become redundant before the driver is ready to enter Formula 1.

So I prefer to simplify the picture by counting only Super License points earned in the last two years in F2 and (FIA) F3. (Since the latter did not exist in 2018, I counted both of its precedessors, European F3 and GP3).

Driver

Points

F2 ’19

F2 ’18

F3 ’19

F3 ’18

Nyck de Vries

70

40

30

Robert Shwartzman

50

30

20

Luca Ghiotto

46

40

6

Nicholas Latifi

44

40

4

Alexander Albon

40

40

George Russell

40

40

Lando Norris

40

40

Sérgio Sette Câmara

40

30

10

Marcus Armstrong

33

25

8

Mick Schumacher

30

30

Anthoine Hubert

28

3

25

Dan Ticktum

25

25

Jehan Daruvala

21

20

1

Artem Markelov

20

20

Jack Aitken

20

20

Jüri Vips

20

10

10

Nikita Mazepin

20

20

Callum Ilott

15

15

Leonardo Pulcini

13

3

10

Pedro Piquet

13

8

5

Guanyu Zhou

11

8

3

Nobuharu Matsushita

10

10

Louis Delétraz

9

6

3

Antonio Fuoco

8

8

David Beckmann

7

7

Christian Lundgaard

6

6

Jake Hughes

6

4

2

Ralf Aron

6

6

Richard Verschoor

5

5

Álex Palou

4

4

Jordan King

4

4

Giuliano Alesi

3

3

Enaam Ahmed

2

2

Yuki Tsunoda

2

2

Max Fewtrell

1

1

Ryan Tveter

1

1

The exclusion of other series like IndyCar or Super Formula has mostly to do with the fact that most of the drivers in those series are not on a trajectory that would lead them to F1 (sorry, Nick Cassidy). I might reconsider this next year depending on how much success Vips has in SF.

Reality check

Where are the drivers who already earned 40 or more points required for Super Licence? Albon, Norris, Latifi, and Russell indeed reached F1. Shwartzman moved up to F2 so far. The others appear to have left the F1 ladder: de Vries went to Formula E, Ghiotto to GT, Sette Câmara is rumored to join IndyCar.

Following the method of this post presents the evolution of the graph of 1-2 finishes throughout 2019 season. The graphs are shown as they were after the race mentioned in the subheading. At times, when the main F1 graph remained unchanged, I threw in similar graphs for some F1 feeder series.

Australia

Obviously, there is only one edge after the first race of the season, a Mercedes 1-2. This turned out to be the beginning of a series of five 1-2 for Mercedes, so the graph did not change again until Monaco.

Monaco

At Monaco, Mercedes drivers took “only” the first and third place, as Vettel appeared in top 2.

Austria

It began with the youngest ever front row of the F1 grid: Leclerc and Verstappen. And ended with the youngest ever 1-2 finish (represented by an edge here) in Formula One: Verstappen and Leclerc. For the moment, the graph is disconnected.

Two predictions: (1) the components will get connected; (2) the graph will stay with 5 vertices, tying the record for the fewest number of vertices (there were 5 in 2000 and 2011). Which is a way of saying, I don’t expect either Gasly or anyone outside of top 3 teams to finish in top two for the rest of the season.

Germany

The rain-induced chaos in Hockenheim could have added a third component to the graph, but instead it linked the two existing ones. The graph is now a path on 5 vertices, which is not a likely structure in this context.

Hungary

Sure, the configuration did not last. The graph is longer a tree, and nor longer bipartite.

A prediction added during the summer break: the season’s graph will contain a Hamiltonian cycle.

Belgium

Getting closer to constructing a Hamiltonian cycle: only one degree-1 vertex remains. The graph is similar to 1992 season, except the appendage was one edge longer then.

In 1992, the central position was occupied by Mansell, who scored 93% more points than the runner-up to the title. This is where we find Hamilton at present, though with “only” 32% more points than the 2nd place. (The percentages are called for, because the scoring system changed in between.)

Italy

A Hamiltonian cycle is now complete. The only way to lose it is by adding another vertex to the graph, which I do not expect to happen.

The graph resembles the 2001 season where Hamilton’s position was occupied by Schumacher. The only difference is that in 2001, there was an extra edge incident to Schumacher.

Singapore

We have a 4-clique, and are two edges short of the complete graph on 5 vertices.

However, I predict the complete graph will not happen. Achieving it would require two races in which neither Hamilton nor Leclerc finishes in top two. Such a thing happened just once in the first 15 races, in the chaos of rainy Hockenheim. Not likely to happen twice in the remaining 6.

Russia

The Formula 1 graph did not change, which is not surprising, considering how unlikely the two missing edges are to appear (see above). But since FIA Formula 3 championship ended in Sochi, here is its complete graph.

The champion, Shwartzman, has the highest vertex degree with 5. Given the level of success of Prema team, one could expect their drivers to form a 3-clique, but this is not the case: Armstrong and Daruvala are not connected (Daruvala’s successful races were mostly toward the beginning of the season, Armstrong’s toward the end). Two Hitech drivers, Vips and Pulcini, each share a couple edges with Prema drivers. All in all, this was a closely fought championship that sometimes made Formula 1 races look like parade laps in comparison.

Japan

Unlikely as it was, another edge was created, bringing the graph within one edge of the first non-planar season in F1.

Could we get an even more unlikely Verstappen-Bottas finish in the remaining four races? Red Bull did not look strong enough in recent races for that to happen.

Interlude: Formula 4

The level of Formula 4 championships is highly variable: some struggle to survive with a handful of cars on the grid, some have developed into spectacular competitions. The following summary of F4 history is highly recommended.

The two most noteworthy ones are the “twin” F4 championships held in Germany and Italy which have disjoint calendars and share many of the drivers. Here is a summary of German (ADAC) F4 in 2019:

At times, US Racing team threatened to take positions 1-2-3-4 in the standings. They did get 1, 3, 4, 6 but it was a close fight, with Pourchaire taking the title by 7 points (258 : 251) over Hauger. Hauger and his neighbors in the graph (US Racing quartet and Petecof of Prema team) occupied the top 6 positions. The radius of the graph is 3, with its (unique) center being Pourchaire.

The Italian F4 championship sometimes had over 35 cars on the grid, but its 1-2 graph is smaller, of radius 2. The unique center is Hauger, who won by a landslide (Hauger 369 : 233 Petecof). The only Italian driver on the graph of this Italian championship is Ferrari who once took second place when Hauger and Petecof collided.

Arguably, Hauger is the 2019 driver of the year at F4 level: he won 6 races in ADAC F4 and 12 in Italian F4. Pourchaire won 4 races in ADAC F4 and did not participate in Italian F4.

Another fascinating contest was the season-long battle of two 15-year old F4 rookies: Aron and Stanek. Stanek took ADAC F4 rookie title, Aron did likewise in Italy. One can call it a tie, with a rematch likely next year unless they move to different categories. Mercedes-backed Aron gets more media attention so far.

Mexico

No new edge, just another repeat of Hamilton-Vettel pairing: it is the 55th time they took the top two spots in Formula 1, an all-time record. They are adjacent on every graph since 2010 except for 2013, where Hamilton’s only race win came with Vettel finishing 3rd. They were also 1-3 in Japan 2009, so one has to go back to 2008, when Vettel drove for Toro Rosso, to find a season where they did not share the podium.

Meanwhile, Formula Renault Eurocup 2019 season ended, so here is its summary graph.

As usual, the highest vertex degree (Piastri, 6) indicates the champion. The 4-clique in the center of the large component took the top 4 places. The small component De Wilde – Lorandi comes from the season opener, where JD Motorsport team claimed the top two. Neither driver was in top two again, as the rest of the season was almost entirely a contest between R-ace GP and MP Motorsport. Not obvious from the graph: despite only appearing in top 2 once, as a second place in Spa, Collet took a handful of 3rd and 4th places on his way to the 5th place in overall standings and the top rookie title. The gap between 5th and 6th places was 207:102, more than a factor of 2, and the championship often felt like there were only 5 cars in the running, all from R-ace GP or MP Motorsport.

United States

It was so close to Bottas-Verstappen finish, which would have completed the graph to , making it the first non-planar F1 graph in history. Could be that some Law of Planarity interfered, causing the yellow flags that denied Verstappen that final chance at overtaking Hamilton. No change to the graph, then.

Another feeder series fills up the spot, then: Formula Regional European Championship (FREC). An unimpressive affair from start to finish, to be frank. Yes, it was the first year the championship took place, and it’s supposed to play an important role as a stepping stone from F4 to FIA F3. (Few drivers can realistically jump into international F3 competition directly from F4, with Hauger and Pourchaire likely to be the only two to pull off this move in 2020.) Still, it is a travesty to award 25 Super License points – same as in Japanese Super Formula – for beating this small field of mostly under-tested cars and some under-prepared drivers. As Floersch put it,

Prema had three cars since November, so they’d been testing since November with three guys who actually can also drive. We had the cars one week before Paul Ricard and had one driver.

At least it was pretty close to a wheel graph. At its center, Vesti won the championship by a wide margin. I included the Fraga-Guzman edge based on my recollection of Guzman finishing second in the second race at Monza – the official standings table gives Guzman no points for any Monza race, as if there was a post-race DQ that nobody mentioned to the press (but given the level of organization, I would not be surprised if it was a clerical error).

Brazil

Funny how predictions work sometimes. After the Austrian Grand Prix, when Gasly was still with Red Bull, I wrote

I don’t expect either Gasly or anyone outside of top 3 teams to finish in top two for the rest of the season.

But Gasly dropped out of a top-3 team and then finished second in Brazil.

Well, my prediction did not cover the Toro Rosso version of Gasly, who now looks like a different driver inhabiting the same body, Jekyll/Hyde style.

This race also broke the Hamiltonian cycle, and the only chance for it to be recovered is for Gasly to finish in top two again in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi

At the end of the season, the Formula 1 graph stayed as it was after Brazil, shown just above. But as Formula 2 season also ended there, here is its graph.

The highest degree vertex belongs to the champion de Vries. Surprisingly, the vice champion Latifi only has degree 3, less than Ghiotto, Aitken, and Matsushita who finished in places 3, 5, 6. Hubert and Correa are joined by an edge due to Hubert’s win in the sprint race in France. Two months later, their collision in Belgium ended Hubert’s life and possibly ended Correa’s racing career. Hubert took the 10th place in the championship posthumously.