2021 Max quali speeds: Rounds 1 to 5

Fastest speeds done in quali

The Baku City Circuit has the longest straight of the year, so let’s take a look at the fastest speeds done in quali this year. While top-speed in previous races is not necessarily representative of top-speeds in a race like Baku, I thought that you guys may enjoy seeing this data.

As usual, the image above is actually a vector so you should be able to zoom in as much as you want without losing image quality. If you want to see a hi-res png image instead then just click here


The data processing is quite simple. First, I filtered the data to keep only the maximum speed(s) recorded by each driver during each of the qualifying sessions from the first 5 races of the season. Since we’ve had 5 races so far, each driver should have 5 data points. This doesn’t apply if a driver couldn’t participate for any reason in that particular session. Second, I grouped the data by race and obtained the mean (average) maximum speed. Then, I normalized the data. Normalizing, in this case, means that I subtracted the mean speed from each speed in that race. Eg: If the maximum speed of Norris was 250 km/h in Monaco and the average maximum speed was 240 km/h, then his normalized speed was 10 km/h.


This normalization process allows you to compare the speeds among different races, telling you which drivers are usually faster than average and which ones are slower than average. In this case, the “0” km/h tells you that the driver had a completely average maximum speed.

Points to the right of the 0 represent qualifying sessions in which they recorded a top speed that was faster than the average maximum speed. Points to the left of the 0 represent the exact opposite.

The diamond-shaped point represents the average normalized maximum speed after 5 races. Eg: Lando Norris has been almost 4 km/h faster than the average top speed at the finish line after considering the first 5 races of the season. On the other hand, Carlos Sainz has recorded on average the lowest top speed at the finish line after 5 races.

The coloured lines for each driver represent two things. First, the thicker line shows the range of the middle 66% of the speeds recorded by each driver. This is called the 66% quantile. The thinner line contains 95% of the maximum speeds for each driver. This can also be called the 99% quantile. Points that are outside of this range are “atypical” points. These points represent sessions in which a driver had a top speed that was faster or slower than you would normally expect from him.


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