Out of Blue

I’m going to start at the end.

When I came back from watching “Out of Blue” at the cinema I looked it up on Wikipedia, and found out that it’s based on a book (Night Train by Martin Amis), and that book is a parody. Which makes the film make so much more sense.

Unfortunately, the film lacked that reflexive self-aware quality of good parody. There’s a beautiful quote from the Torygraph that I think sums the film up perfectly – “This New Orleans-set detective thriller from Carol Morley pulls off an undesirable yet weirdly impressive coup: the twist ending to its murder mystery is somehow simultaneously preposterous and obvious, like a clown car parping and swerving its way towards you from the far end of an airstrip.”

That statement is true of everything that happens in the film. You think, oh, they’re using this tired trope in this really unsubtle way to subvert it. And then they don’t. It’s not just one tired trope, it’s all of them. In sequence. In obvious sequence.

It wouldn’t be so bad, I mean basic thrillers are ten-a-penny, yeah, they’re not good, but they’re not bothersome either, they’re Sunday-afternoon-plans-have-washed-out films. But the film keeps putting on these airs and graces, all “I am a serious film, making serious statements. I AM ART!” when it’s really not. It tries to be clever and turns out dumb. Also the physics is terrible. But I suspect that’s deliberate, because the physics they use is all trope-y and we’re back to “tired trope played straight.”

It’s a waste of some lovely cinematography and a good soundtrack. And some solid performances. Patricia Clarkson as Mike Hoolihan gives enough mystery and enigmatic to be engaging despite being all but one of the hard-bitten female detective clichés. Toby Jones is Toby Jones so you know he’s good. Aaron Tveit’s Detective Silvero does a good job of sleazy and sinister … like every other male character. Basically, the female characters suffer and the men are sleazy and sinister. It’s very thin that way.

It’s one of those rare films I’d actually disrecommend.

Do February’s lead articles obey Benford’s Law?

Benford’s Law gains its power with larger numbers, and I started my Benford’s law project in the shortest month. I don’t think these things through, do I? But you have to start somewhere.

The 28 daily news articles contained 436 numbers written as numbers (~15 per day).

lU7Nbb.png

3 and 7 are found pretty much exactly as often as expected. 1 is over represented.

If you add together the sum of all the values of (observed-expected)squared, all divided by the expected, the calculated test statistic is 8.6.

The critical chi squared value for 9 items with only one line is ~ 15.507

The test statistic smaller than the critical value therefore the difference is not significant. This data does not disobey Benford’s Law.*

*That noise is L shouting “obey is the word you want” but to me there’s a difference between ‘stats show x’ and ‘stats show not x’ and to me, these show ‘do not disobey’.

F1 2021 – Bahrain Grand Prix

There is no change to the diagram, because Ferrari were no more than competent and competence does not give you cookies. But at least there were no red cards, because the pitstop disaster happened to Mercedes.

The race itself was not as good as people are saying – whenever they do the whole “best season opener ever!!!” I want them to ask people who have been watching for more than 10 years. Red Bull were hoist on their own petard, which was pleasing because their behaviour was only one step above Please Mrs Butler*. On the other hand, the claims that Hamilton won in not-the-best car are a little premature given the fastest lap was set in the Mercedes.

Bahrain did, however, set the season up nicely. Bring on Imola.

*Yes, it’s still one of my favourite poems.

F1’s back for 2021

I try and limit myself to 1 post a week, but with both the rugby league and formula 1 coming back this week, you’re getting two.

As a Formula 1 fan, I am looking forward to the new season, even if I suspect Mercedes dominance. As a Ferrari fan, I am dreading it. After last season’s disaster (worst season in 40 years!), I don’t see any improvement, not because testing has gone much better or worse but because nothing has changed. Except the addition of horrid green drizzle on the back of the car. I disapprove of the horrid green.

Last season I made a bingo card, and while 9/25 squares did get dabbed, the problems mostly focussed on strategy failures, driver errors and pitstop disasters. I’m also a believer in positive reinforcement so this year’s theme will be cards and cookies.

Ferrari do something bad – red card, Ferrari do something good – cookie.

They are already on one red card for the abominable green motif.

lcURwm.png

My entirely biased and one-sided report on the 2020 Super League Season

Written in advance of the return of rugby league this week, I have been writing this in pieces since the Grand Final, but every time I tried to write it I ended up falling down gleeful Twitter rabbit holes.

The 2020 rugby league season started with uncertainty because Saints’s old coach, Justin Holbrook, had departed (to Gold Coast Titans. Separately to my-team-has-lost-its-coach sadness, it’s starting to feel like Super League is being used as a proving ground before you can have an NRL job). Saints won the title in 2019, and they were defending the title with a new coach, Kristian Woolf. Now Woolf is good, and responsible for part of Tonga’s glorious resurgence* but relatively untested club-coach wise.

So, there is some fear.

The start of the season was a bit up and down.

And then plague.

Luke Thompson was going to move to Australia at the end of the season, but Canterbury Bulldogs wanted him over there earlier, because of COVID. And no-one really objected, because you could see it from their point of view. They’d invested in the deal, and wanted to make sure they got value for money. And you could see Luke Thompson’s point of view, and, lets be honest, if he wanted to go, why keep him over here and unhappy. The only problem was that that left Saints a little light in the forwards. A couple of up and coming youngsters, the lovable walking disaster area that is Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook (the only man ever carded for not talking to a ref) [he shall be referred to as LMS throughout the rest of this because his name is too long**], Alex Walmsley, light of my life though he is, has reached the injury-prone stage of his career, and Kyle Amor has lost more than half a step of speed. There would be a Thompson-shaped gap, all 6 foot and 16 stone 1 lb of him.

At the same time, James Graham, damn good forward, golden lion, England and Great Britain captain, honoured ex-Saint is coming to the end of his career, and the end of his contract with St. George Illawarra.

So he comes home. He comes home to finish his career with us!!!

The entire town is verklempt. I mean, he is beloved, actually beloved, and he wanted to make sure he finished his career with us.***

Meanwhile, because various Super League clubs have COVID outbreaks, one club is in a different country (Catalan Dragons), and one team is allegedly in a different country and has gone bust and unable to fulfill their fixtures (Toronto Wolfpack, who play most of their matches in … Yorkshire), the league switches to win percentage to calculate who the league leaders are.

We were hopeful that fans would be allowed in at some point, but it was not to be, and the end of the season comes without Saints fan being able to say goodbye to Graham, or Zeb Taia (retiring)**** or Dominique Peyroux (moving to Toulouse. Toulouse, you are getting a superstar. He makes Saints a better team when he is on the pitch.).

Saints do not win the League Leader’s Shield, that goes to our nearest and dearest rivals, Wigan, who beat Saints on our own home ground in the penultimate match of the regular season. Really good match, unfortunate result.

Saints and Wigan finish second and first in the league, meaning they got byes to the semi-finals of the play-offs. There was a certain level of paranoia in parts of Yorkshire about the expansion of the play-offs to a top 6 rather than a top 4, mostly to do with it meaning Leeds qualified for the play-offs and the fear that somehow they’d sneak a title from there. In the end, it is Warrington who suffer, being the only top 4 team not to reach the play-off semifinals. Warrington – once again, it is not their year. The Leeds vs Catalan Dragons quarterfinal match was somewhat ill-tempered, and Leeds fans insist that Catalans are a dirty, dirty team who tried to injure their players, but they would say that, they lost.

The semi-final matches were Wigan vs Hull FC and St Helens vs Catalan Dragons.

Wigan beat Hull FC 29-2. The day after, Saints play Catalan. It does not pass Saints fans by that this means Wigan get an extra days rest. And an extra day of recovery for injured players. Catalan decide to live down to the reports of Leeds fans and it looks like both LMS and James Graham will have to go off for head injuries. Graham does, and LMS … well I remain worried that he stuck the team doctor to the ceiling with gaffer tape and that’s how he was allowed back on the pitch. Suddenly the entire town of St Helens and surrounding environs become experts in the RL head injury protocols. (Gareth Walker is a rugby league journalist, the people replying are not). Saints beat Catalan 48-2. Breaths are held until the team is announced for the final because if Graham is not cleared, his last ever game of rugby league would have ended with a head injury substitution, and that’s just not right.

The team is announced. Graham is in it. The town is excitable.

As well as being our nearest and dearest rivals, Wigan also play in red and white, as Saints do (we are red and white Vs, they are hoops, the distinction is vital), but because they finished higher in the league, Wigan get to be the “home” team and wear the proper colours. Saints will be in blue for the final. It will be James Graham’s last game, but it will also be the last game for Sean O’Loughlin (Wigan’s captain) (BBC version of the story / Guardian version), so the whole thing is building nicely. By which I mean, everyone is biting their fingernails because big names, big stakes, big rivalry, big match.

The game itself rolls round.

(Look at this photo from the start of the game. Which side look like they could be Sith? Which side look noble and Jedi-like?)

The game is what is described in the parlance “a right arm-wrestle”. It is tight, it is close, both defences are excellent. The BBC live text commentary can be relived here, the Guardian version here (choose your poison, I listened via BBC radio because John Kear was on and I prefer the BBC live text).

Anyone who watched/listened to it probably doesn’t need the reminder. Because it was tight and it was close and it was nerve-wracking.

Twenty nine minutes in, Zak Hardaker for Wigan almost scores but 5 Saints players get themselves between the ball and the ground so he can’t score. That effort is vital.

The first points were scored just before the half-time hooter, a penalty for Saints. 2-0. L texts me to see how I am feeling and gets the reply “I am nauseous from sport.”

The second half starts, 10 minutes later, a try from Zeb Taia is disallowed for offside. It remains 0-2. I remain nauseous.

Wigan almost score through Bibby who fails to catch the pass. I become more nauseous.

Wigan do score (that man Bibby again), but Hardaker misses the conversion. 4-2. I reach new heights of nausea. (This is an excellent photo from just after the try)

The vile Wigan attack tiny Theo Fages around the head. Penalty for Saints. The beauteous Coote scores 4-4. There are eight minutes left and no sick bucket close enough. Pretty much everyone assumes this is going to golden point extra time.

Fages misses a drop goal. Gets caught offside. Wigan are given a penalty with 2 minutes to go. It is 55 metres out but Hardaker is giving it a go. “No, not this way,” says every red-and-white-V heart. HE MISSES!!!

What follows is the stupidest passage of play I have ever seen on a rugby pitch.

As the full time hooter goes, Tommy Makinson attempts a desperation drop goal, anything to level the scores and force extra time. The kicks hits the cross bar. The only player to react for either side is the marvellous, glorious, wonderful Jack Welsby, youngest player on the pitch, St. Helens born-and-bred.

He scores. We go to the vid ref. The vid ref gives it.

Saints victory 4-8 in the final moments of the game!

Please watch the stupidest try to ever win a major match –
https://twitter.com/Saints1890/status/1332675649950142470?s=08

I am almost sick with joy.

James Roby, Saints Captain, who made 60 (sixty) tackles (in an 80 minute game, that’s a tackle every 1 minute 20 seconds) is awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match. Because he was marvellous. Roby’s speech is all about how fantastic Jack Welsby is. Jack Welsby’s interview is all how James Roby taught him never to give up. My level of love for both can be seen from space.

The Guardian summarised the game thusly, the BBC equivalent is here.

Game summary from Tony Bellew – World Champion boxer comes via Twitter

The beautiful boys with the trophy –

Several of the lovely, if foul mouthed, boys after the match (someone I can probably identify but will remain nameless really does explete every second words so the language warning is required)

Zeb Taia and James Graham got to retire with a title, while Dominique Peyroux goes to Toulouse with one (pictured alongside Tommy Makinson and Theo Fages)

James Graham spent some time after the match soaking it all in. (And while I have cursed his name roundly, soundly, and repeatedly, Sean O’Loughlin earned this honour guard).

Meet the newly crowned King of St Helens, Jack Welsby

I was mostly holding it together, and then Gold Coast Titans posted this. Our old coach still loves us. We love you Mr. Holbrook.

It was the glory of sport, the emotion, the spectacle, the sheer “WTF and how?!!” of sport.

*This is why Tonga are being based in St. Helens for the 2021 World Cup. Depending who gets picked for England, there is a distinct possibility that there will be more Tonga fans than England fans in the stadium. This is actually a good thing, and shows the RFL are thinking. See also, the 2021 World Cup is the first of any team sport to have men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments competing at the same time.

** His “song” from the fans is “your name is too long, your name is too long, Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook, your name is too long”. He is beloved. Also, the club has given up, he is LMS on the official squad page too – https://www.saintsrlfc.com/teams/first-team/

*** Here is where I praise St George Illawara for being gentlemen about this.

**** Zeb Taia liked my reply to his retirement announcement. I remain asqueak.

Obey Benford’s – It’s The Law (an introduction to my Benford’s Law project)

Introduction:

Some years ago, I became fascinated by Benford’s Law, thanks in part to Chapter 12 “Is it Fake?” of the excellent “How Long is a Piece of String?” More Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life by Rob Eastaway” (as reviewed here). Excessively simplifying, in naturally occurring numbers, the leading digits will follow a distinct pattern, and will not be randomly distributed.

The expected % of leading numbers for each digit can be seen in the table below:

lsWciA.png

If you have a large naturally occurring data set that doesn’t conform to this, it tells you there are either constraints on it so that the data doesn’t cover all of the possibilities (e.g. human heights in m are will start with a 1 or a 2, no one has ever been 4 m tall) or something else is going on.

Testing this theory:

I wanted to test this out on something. Problem was, what? Most sports data is possibility-limited e.g. fewer goals will be scored in football the 9th or 9xths minute than would be scored in the 8th and 8xths minute, not because of the minute, but because the game stops at the 90th minute. Other data isn’t big enough. I needed a source of numbers that was large and unlimited.

Eventually, possibly in a fit of cynicism, I decided to try the leading digits of numbers reported in the news. Advantages to this plan – I can use a single, traceable data source – one article a day from the BBC news website. The BBC doesn’t tend to delete pages so if someone wanted to double check my numbers, I could give them the links.

Disadvantages to this plan – when I first attempted it, Article 50 was in the news, and skewing my results.

Having looked at the results, and realised this and a few methodological errors, and going a bit stir-crazy because of lockdown 3, I decided to try it again.

Attempt Number 2:

These were the rules I developed to try to avoid that and similar pitfalls:
1 – no numbers in names e.g. 19 in COVID-19 does not count as a leading digit
2 – no numbers from dates (I had done this originally, but worth restating)
3 – only digits written as digits. This threw up an unexpected problem – the BBC has somewhat intermittent editorial control on whether digits under 10 are written as words or numbers, and this may skew results. I’ve saved the links to the articles I’ve used to put the project together so I can go through them again if I want to (or if someone else wants to look at them).

I started on the 1st of February 2021, and will carry on till 1st of February 2022 (barring disaster). The other advantage of this system is that if I miss a day, I can fill them in with more days at the end. I will give monthly updates and running totals, plus some commentary if I have any.

Book Review – How Long Is a Piece of String?: More Hidden Mathematics of Everyday Life by Rob Eastaway

This reads a lot like Horrible Histories but for maths and aimed at an older audience.

I know what I’m going to say is an odd sort of complaint, but I could have done with more book. What there is is gold, but I think they could have gone further into the maths without losing their audience.

That being said I appreciate the practical ways they suggest that a reader can do to to prove the maths in the book and the links to papers which go further into the maths.

In which I am dubious about the new sprint races

The sprint race plan intrigues me in some ways.

1 – They managed to get every team to agree! It’s Formula 1, all the teams never agree on anything. Of course, it turns out that it’s only an agreement in principle, which leaves plenty of room for everyone to change their minds, but at least its a start.*

2 – Often, when they bring in major rule changes, it’s all or nothing. A 3-race trial of the sprint races is a really good idea, especially for something they’re positioning as a big change.

3 – The choice of the races to test it at. The chosen three are the Canadian, Italian and Brazilian Grand Prix. If the idea is to bring more people in by moving qualifying to the Friday, they’re reasonable choices; the Canadian Grand Prix is round a street circuit, and Monza’s easy enough to get to from Milan. If someone was coming to one of those races anyway, an extra day wouldn’t make that much difference in terms of accommodation. Certainly, doing this at other tracks e.g. Silverstone or Monaco, would be a lot more difficult.

Fewer people will still come on Fridays because of a nasty thing called work, but it might increase interest in the Friday sessions for TV, so both TV and the tracks themselves might get more money out of this.

Why am I focussing on the backstage stuff and the inevitable horse-trading and intrigue? Because I don’t think the sprint races are going to change anything in terms of racing excitement. The teams aren’t going to let it have enough points to change anything at the end of the season, there are only 3 of the spread through the whole season (21 races) and, let’s be honest, that Mercedes is enough ahead that it could give the rest of the cars a one-lap head start and still win.

The (probable) lack of a pitstop means there’s no way Mercedes will some how stuff one up which cuts off another possible way of them not-winning.

The only way sprint racing might change anything is either first lap chaos and there not being enough time for Mercedes to catch up. I am not expecting overtaking, because if there’s (almost) no overtaking in long races, why would there be any (more) in short races?

I don’t see this solving F1’s problems with regard to lack of in-race action.

*I am trying to figure out if this has been done to increase viewership, to bring in more money, and if the elongated engine freeze being used to get the smaller teams onside. Which leads to the question of what are they giving Mercedes and Ferrari in exchange?

A lack of comment on F1 sprint races and Pancakes

If, in future, F1 could not do big announcements in weeks when I am working lots of overtime, I would be obliged. Comments on Sprint Races to come when I have brain space. Here’s one I wrote earlier.

I use Delia Smith’s pancake recipe, with a couple of alterations.

  • I don’t use the leftover melted butter to fry the pancakes, I use sunflower oil, because I find butter-fried pancakes to be too much and slightly sickly, to be honest.
  • Because I don’t have a ladle, I use 4 spoonfuls of mixture per pancake.

The pancakes come out alright, not as good as my Nan’s, but alright. I am slowly learning the patience required to let them cook enough to flip. It is a process that has involved many tasty disasters.

F1 Fastest Lap Points – Full of Speed and Fury, Signifying Nothing

In 2019, Formula 1 introduced a bonus point for the driver who sets the fastest lap at each race (1 point for the driver, 1 point for the constructor). They added some conditions, the point would only be given to a driver in the top 10 – if someone outside the top 10 sets the fastest lap, no point is awarded. That struck me as unfair because it’s down amongst the bottom half of the constructors’ championship where that extra point will count at the end of the season, especially when it comes to the money given to the teams.

That’s part of the problem, the idea seemed to have been to encourage the teams to do something in the often dead last quarter of the race, when the interesting part of the race is over because the cars are too wide to allow overtaking at most tracks and there’s no more pitstops to permit over/under cuts. Having cars come in for fresh tyres towards the end of the race to aim for the fastest lap point is supposed to increase interest, rather than being a bad sign that there’s enough distance between cars to allow for a pitstop without a loss of place. But at the same time, they didn’t want it to have too big an effect, because we’d never hear the end of it if someone won the World title purely because of fastest lap points.

Overall, I doubt adding fastest lap changes that much (and everyone knows how I feel about pointless changes) so I decided to go through the last 10 years’ worth of results (okay 11, because this happened in 2019, and I’m only writing this in 2020) and see if it does change anything. For 2009-2018, would adding fastest lap points change either the drivers’ or constructors’ standings at the end of the season? For 2019 and 2020, would removing them change anything. Because there’ll be a lot of numbers, I’m putting them in a separate post and linking to them at various points.

Before anyone else says anything about them, yes there are caveats. Before fastest lap points became a thing, drivers may not have bothered to go for fastest laps because they were worth nothing (except bragging rights, and bragging rights should never be underestimated), therefore it is a slightly artificial experiment.

The results

2009 (link to the results with the fastest lap points removed here) – To no-one’s surprise, Mark Webber was one of the first drivers who wouldn’t have got a fastest lap because of finishing outside the top 10. He finished outside the top 10 when he was fastest at the Japanese Grand Prix. The shock is that the perpetually cursed-with-bad-luck Webber was not the first person this happened to, no, that would have been Timo Glock at the European Grand Prix. Nine different drivers (ten if you want to count Glock) different drivers, driving for seven different constructors, would have gained points.

There would be no changes to the standings in the constructors’ title, and only 16th and 17th place would swap in the drivers’ standings.

For 2010 (link here), three races would have had no fastest lap point awarded. Six different drivers (or seven counting Petrov who didn’t finish in the top 10 when he set the fastest lap at the Turkish Grand Prix) for four manufacturers would have received fastest lap points. There would have been no changes to either the Drivers’ or Constructors’ Championship standings.

2011 (link here) would have been the first season that a fastest lap point would have been awarded at each grand prix, because all the people who set fastest laps finished in the top 10 of each particular race. Six drivers for three teams would have won fastest lap points. However, it would have had no effect on final standings.

2012 (link here) was much more of a mixed bag. Four races would not have seen fastest lap points awarded because the person who set the fastest lap either didn’t finish in the top ten or didn’t finish at all. Even with that, 8 drivers from 5 teams would have won fastest lap points (the unawarded ones raises that to 12 drivers and 7 teams). This makes no difference to the Constructors’ Championship, but does cause a small movement in the Drivers’ Championship. In the real world, Lewis Hamilton finished in 4th on 190 points, with Jenson Button finishing in 5th on 188 points. In our counter-factual universe, where fastest lap points are awarded, Hamilton won none of these (the one race where he set a fastest lap, he did not finish), Button won two, and therefore, they are tied on 190 points. It then goes to count back. Both drivers won three races, but Button’s next best finish, 2nd, is better than Hamilton’s next best, 3rd. Therefore, Button move into 4th and Hamilton is knocked down to 5th.

There are no changes due to the award of fastest lap point in 2013 (link here). All but one race would have seen a point awarded (Esteban Gutierrez unluckily finishing in 11th at the Spanish Grand Prix). Six drivers from five teams would have won fastest lap point (seven from six teams if Gutierrez had been luckier). However, nothing would have changed in the Constructors’ or Drivers’ Championships.

2014, or the year of the silly attempt to add excitement by awarding double points. (Is it really 6 years since I wrote about that nonsense? I didn’t like it then, and I am glad they got rid of it.) If fastest lap points had been awarded in 2014 according to the rules now in use, nothing would have changed with the final positions, 17 out of the 19 races would have seen points awarded, for 6 drivers from 4 teams. If points had been awarded to all drivers who set a fastest lap, regardless of final position, something would have changed. Kimi Räikkönen was one of the two drivers who set fastest laps, but would not have been awarded a point because he finished outside the top 10 (at the Monaco Grand Prix in his case). If he had been awarded a point, he would have leapt into 11th place in the drivers’ championship, ahead of Kevin Magnussen, but since the point wouldn’t have been awarded, this is another season where the fastest lap points would have changed nothing. Full details here.

Fewer drivers would have won fastest lap points in 2015 (link here), with only 5 drivers for 3 different teams setting fastest laps. While this doesn’t change anything in the constructors’ championship, fastest lap points would have moved Daniel Ricciardo up to 7th place in the drivers’ championship, ahead of Daniil Kvyat. With the addition of fastest lap points, Ricciardo and Kvyat would have the same number of points, and, although their best result is the same (one second place each), Ricciardo’s next best result is better than Kvyat’s next best result (a third place vs a fourth).

Two races in 2016 would not have seen points awarded, with Nico Hülkenberg missing out due to finishing 15th at the Chinese Grand Prix, and Fernando Alonso missing out due to finishing 14th at the Italian Grand Prix. Fastest lap points would have been awarded to seven drivers from four teams (it would have been nine drivers from six teams if points were awarded no matter the finishing position). There are no changes in the drivers’ or constructors’ championships, and the only thing the fastest lap point would have done would be to increase the gap between Rosberg and Hamilton at the end of the season. Full details here.

Seven drivers would have received fastest lap points (it would have been eight but Sergio Perez finished in 13th at the Monaco Grand Prix), for four different constructors (would have been five if Perez had been given the point) in 2017. There would have been no changes to the constructors’ or drivers’ championships (details here).

In the 2018 season, two races would not have seen points awarded, Valtteri Bottas finished in 14th at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while Kevin Magnussen finished in 18th at the Singapore Grand Prix. Personally, I say if somehow, anyone manages to get a Haas to be the fastest car of a race, they ought to receive a point, but that’s not what the rules state. Adding fastest laps does not change anything in the constructors’ Championship. In the drivers’s championship, Bottas would have moved into 3rd from 5th, with Verstappen narrowly missing out on passing Räikkönen for what would now be 4th (full details here).

This was the year where Force India had to reconstitute themselves mid-season. Fastest lap points do not change either of their positions. Obviously, if both “Force Indias” points were added together, they race up the constructors’ championship but adding fastest lap points wouldn’t change that amalgamated table either.

Now we come to the second half of this accidental natural experiment, 2019 and 2020, years in which fastest lap points were awarded. For these two seasons the question is, will positions change with fastest lap points removed?

2019 – Six drivers from three teams won fastest lap points, both members of the three big teams. Two races didn’t see fastest lap points, because Kevin Magnussen finished in 17th at the Singapore Grand Prix and Bottas DNF at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Again, I would like to state my policy that if anyone manages to get a Haas to be the fastest car of a race, they ought to receive a point (although giving Magnussen that point wouldn’t have changed anything in the drivers’ championship). (Details here.)

2020 was a weird season in a weird year. Fastest driver points were awarded in all 17 Grand Prix. They were awarded to 7 drivers across 4 teams (details here). Removing fastest lap points makes no difference to the Constructor’s title (don’t look at the constructors table, it is a thing of horror for all Ferrari fans). In the Drivers’s championship, removal of the fastest lap points would move Albon ahead of Carlos Sainz jnr, but I am not sure that would have saved his seat, Red Bull being what they are.

Conclusion:

So, what have we established? At no point did adding or removing fastest lap points change the standings in the Constructors’ Championship.

0/129 placings.

0%.

Zero.

Zulu. Echo. Romeo. Oscar.

This established, let’s look at the Drivers’ Championship: 11 drivers would have changed the finishing position with the addition or removal of fastest lap points (11/284 = 3.9%).

However, none of these changes would affect who won the title, and since I’m not party to individual contracts; I don’t know if anyone would have made some extra money or if anyone missed out on some cash.

Mostly, this has been a change that affected nothing, but why is this? Partly it’s the small size of the “fastest lap bonus”: a single point compared to the 25 points for a win.

I think they made it deliberately small so it wouldn’t affect the big things like the Drivers’ championship, but it’s so small that it doesn’t affect anything in the Constructors Standings (where money is more obviously at stake).

While I disapprove of change for change’s sake; I don’t think those in charge will get rid of the fastest lap point in the short term because it gives the appearance of excitement, gives the commentators something to talk about in the dead space after the pitstops.

I’d rather they tweak the rules to give spectators more exciting racing; but I don’t think I’m getting that any time soon either.