Visualising Lap Time Data – Australian Grand Prix, 2009

One of the, err, side projects I’ve been looking at with a couple of people from the OBU has been bouncing around a few ideas about how we might “wrap” coverage of Formula One races with some open educational resources.

So with the first race of the new season over, I thought I’d have a quick play with some of the results data…

First off, where to get the results info? An API source doesn’t seem to be available anywhere that I’ve found as a free service, but the FIA media centre do publish a lot of the data (albeit in a PDF format): F1 Media Centre – Melbourne Grand Prix, 2009.

For convenience as much as anything, I thought I’d use Many Eyes Wikified to produce a set of visualisations based on the lap time data and the race lap chart.

To get the data into an appropriate form required a little bit of processing (for example, recasting the race lap chart to provide the ranking per lap ordered by driver) but as ever, most of the charts fell out easily enough (although a couple more issues were raised – like being able to specify the minimum y-axis range value on a bar chart, for example).

Anyway, you can find the charts linked to from here: Australia Lap Times visualisation.

In the meantime, here are some examples (click through to reach the interactive original).

First up, a scatter plot to compare lap times for each driver across the race:

Secondly, a line chart to compare time series lap times across different drivers:

This bar chart views lets you compare the lap times for each driver over a subset of laps:

A “traditional” drivers standings chart for each lap:

Finally, this bar chart can be run as an animation (sort of) to show the rank of each driver for each lap during the race:

There are a few more data sets (e.g. pitting behaviour) that I haven’t had a look at yet, but if and when I do, I will link to them from the Australia Lap Times visualisation page on Many Eyes Wikified.

PS If you’re really into thinking about the data, maybe you’d like to help me think around how to improve the “Pit stop strategist” spreadsheet I started messing around with too?! ;-)

PPS It’s now time for the 2010 season, and this year, there’s some Mclaren car telemetry data to play with. For example, here’s a video preview of my interactive Mclaren data explorer.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

13 thoughts on “Visualising Lap Time Data – Australian Grand Prix, 2009”

  1. Hey, great work… however one quick point:

    http://manyeyes.alphaworks.ibm.com/wikified/ousefulTestboard/AustraliaLapTimesDriverCols:AusraliaLapTimes_Line

    Clicking “Relative” is only useful if only one driver is shown.

    For comparing two drivers it is actually incredibly misleading… is it not possible to make one of the drivers (e.g. fastest) be “100” for the first lap, and then ALL times from there on are relative to that… NOT both drivers times normalised to “100”.

    E.g. the “relative” graph appears to show Hamilton being faster than Button for nearly every lap, which is not the correct case.

    What it should show that, relative to Button’s first lap, Hamilton was slower (i.e. starting at something like 95) until half way, then after that point he roughly matched Button’s lap times. (As can be seen from the un relative graph)

    1. Daniel Walker,

      Sorry, I think you’ve misunderstood the relative driver graph.

      This is based on the actual laptime – no normalisation takes place!

      So, all of the lines that are above another line are slower laptimes.

      Also, the biggest problem with it is that the line is too thick, so it actually covers about 2 seconds worth of space, so doesn’t give a decent representation of laptimes.

  2. Fantastic charts, I would be back after every race if you continue doing this. As for the data feed, you could use a tool to convert the pdf files to HTML then extract the data from the html.

  3. I wonder if the lap shift is the reason Button appears to have the slowest lap times (by a long way) for laps 22 & 57? It seems a little strange as he won.

    Don’t you just love data.

  4. I’ve developed a chart to show position as well as interval between cars at each lap. I use this for our local model car club. I want to apply the technique to F1 using the FIA tining sheets. Problem though I don’t understand the timing data for Lap 1. Its format looks like hh:mm:ss but this does not make any sense.

  5. I’m impressed. I’ve become interested in “pit stop strategy” and utilization of data analysis to rank drivers performance. I am working with others to identify some of the “rising talent” and can tell you that the selection of drivers (say, according to ones interpretation of prior performance) is less than objective. I’m really interested in talking with you about how to make that as scientific as possible, as millions of dollars are on the line as you know… pls contact me… tx

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