A Better Formula 1 Calendar (Or A More Efficient One At Least)

It’s summer break time in Formula 1. That means it’s time for the traditional “there are too many races” articles from the journos. I quite like the BBC’s choose your races for a 16 race season thing because it’s something a little different to the usual.

I like “different to the usual”, and this is my contribution to that.

What if we don’t get rid of races, but, instead, find a better order in which to race them to save time, distance and cost.

There is a shiny app dedicated to solving the travelling salesman problem. Simplifying horribly, the travelling salesman problem asks “what is the most efficient route round x number of points?” The app, here, does the hard work for you. It’s really good because it copes with cross-ocean travel, which not all apps for the travelling salesman problem do.

To find the most efficient route to cover all the races of the 2018 F1 season, I tried to put in the locations of the races.

That was when the first problem occurred. Completely understandably, the app only includes cities, and several of the racetracks are not in or near cities. Therefore, I’ve gone with the nearest city to the locations of the races. The races affected by this are:

Race – closest city

Bahrain GP – Manama
French GP – Marseille
Austrian GP – Ljubljana (stop laughing in the back)
British GP – Leicester
German GP – Stuttgart for Hockenheim
Belgian GP – Brussels
Italian GP – Milan
Japanese GP – Nagoya

This was the map that the app produced

xmaatJ.png

In case you can’t read the labels, the order the program puts the locations in is Melbourne, Singapore, Nagoya, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Manama, Baku, Sochi, Ljubljana, Budapest, Milan, Barcelona, Marseille, Monte Carlo, Stuttgart, Brussel, Leicester, Montreal, Austin, Mexico City, Sao Paolo.

That’s start in Australia, fly over to Asia and race the Asian and Middle Eastern tracks. The route then moves across Europe from East to West, from the UK go across to Canada, down the Americas and finishes in Brazil.

The one downside to the solution is that it has to return to its starting point, because it solves the travelling salesman problem. That makes it more likely that an outlying point, in this case Melbourne, will be the starting point.

But, and this is the important thing, doesn’t the order that it proposes better from a logistical point of view? Doesn’t it make more sense than jumping from Australia to Bahrain, only to jump back to China. Following that, in the real calendar, there’s a slow drift across from Asia to Europe, only for the circuit to leap from Monaco to Montreal, then back to France followed by the rest of the European races bar one. Then, in the real world, we go from Europe to Singapore, back to Europe, then out to Japan, which is two long flights the smaller teams could probably do without. From Japan, it’s over to the US, then down, through Mexico to Brazil, which makes sense. Going from there to Abu Dhabi does not.

The app’s more efficient plan avoids a number of weeks where the teams barely have time to land before they have to take off again. The simplified route only crosses the Atlantic once (as opposed to four times in the actual calendar) and doesn’t cross the Indian Ocean at all (as opposed to twice in the real calendar). It avoids a trip to Singapore and back in the middle of the season. It also avoids a 15+ hour trip from Japan to Texas. Those changes should make logistics easier for the teams and mean that the pit crew (and other, even less heralded team members) might have chance to see their families once in a while.

Of course, the app is only bound by geography and the information entered. In reality, the layout of the season is determined by money and politics. Certainly, the US Grand Prix is at that point in the season just so there’s a chance that the Championship might be decided on US soil so there might finally be major US commercial interest. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Abu Dhabi’s contract is to host the final race of the season, not any old race.

Someone with more mathematical / coding skill than me would probably be able to come up with a way of running a similar algorithm with a fixed final point. That would mean you could find the most efficient route is if it has to finish at Abu Dhabi. Whatever that calendar is, it won’t be the one that F1 is using at the moment. Going all the way over to the Americas only to come back to the Middle East really adds mileage. It will be interesting to see how Liberty deal with this when Abu Dhabi’s contract is up for renewal because I don’t think anyone likes where Abu Dhabi is on the calendar.

It’s not just because I’d rather see titles decided in Brazil. Given the way the last few seasons have gone, they title is more likely to be wrapped up before the last race. My objection to Abu Dhabi having the last race is that I’d rather the last race be somewhere where we might get actual racing action.

Advertisements

Film Locations

Once a year I like to look at where the films I’ve watched are set.

This is a deeply incomplete look at films up to August 2015.

Pie Chart

 

That’s all locations, including fictional ones, and, as you can see, the United States and the United Kingdom dominate.  They dominate even more if I only look at real places.

Pie Chart

 

If I look at the UK-set films

 

Pie Chart

 

They’re mostly set in England, and Wales and Northern Ireland have no representation at all. I really need to watch more films 🙂

We all want a Women’s Tour de France. I don’t think this is the way.

There is no women’s Tour de France. I wish there was. I am 100% behind most of the many and varied attempts to get one.

But the whole “x amateur women are riding it to try and get one” that’s getting all the media attention this year strikes me as the worst possible way.

Partly this is the media’s fault. The first week of the Tour is the one with all the boring flat stages, so the media look for anything they can to write about. And this is an interesting thing to write about.

Unfortunately, it means that they aren’t covering the Giro Rosa*. Given the Giro is the only one of the grand tours that actually has a women’s race, this is frustrating. Especially as it was such a good race. Annemiek van Vleuten is just amazing.

Compare the coverage of the amateur race with the coverage of La Course, where the the UCI Pro women’s teams race the most interesting stage of the Tour in the morning before the men. La Course is down to one stage which is annoying but hopefully the joy of crowd might convince them to give it a second stage again.

Also, see, I told you van Vleuten was amazing.

Another annoying thing is the amount of face time Skoda are getting for backing the amateur race. If you’ve got that much money, Skoda, you can fund a goddamn women’s pro tour race! (Sorry!)

The other thing that annoyed me was the people who were up in arms about the lack of women’s Tour but were willing to ignore the Giro Rosa. It could be because the media don’t cover the Giro Rosa so people don’t know about it. Or it could be people just enjoy getting enraged without doing some background research.

I think we’re more likely to get a women’s Tour if we makes the most of the excellent riders we have now. That wil make it clear to sponsors that they can get recognition and sales money (or possibly tax write-offs) by sponsoring them or a race. This involves building on the successes of the Giro Rosa, and races like it. To an extent, we are getting there, just look at the number of UCI pro women’s teams. Also look at how many of them attached to men’s teams, suggesting a more stable funding stream.

Build from what we’ve got works better than build from nothing.

*The pink thing isn’t pinkification, it’s the colour of the original race sponsors so the men’s jersey is also the pink jersey.

2018 World Cup Final Diagram

What a match!

Probably the best final since 1994, although, admittedly, my memory only goes back to 1994.

Exciting, excruciating, and while the better team won, I feel terribly sorry for Croatia. Also, I told you that Lloris would drop a clanger.

No community view this time because once you’re down to two teams it doesn’t add any value.

Two team network

Five teams would have had a winner either way (Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Monaco, Real Madrid), this is a lot more than normal.

Possibly because very few Croats (2/23) play in their home league, and only 9/23 French players play in the French league.

At the last World Cup final, only two teams would have had a winner no matter who won, and those two teams were Real Madrid and Lazio.

Comparing it to the last two Euros, which I can do because this World Cup final was an all European final, in 2016 only Lyon would have had a winner whichever side won, and in 2012 there was only 1, Manchester City who had Mario Balotelli on one side and David Silva on the other.

Six clubs jointly had the most players in the final two teams, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Marseille, Monaco, Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid.

Juventus are the club team nearest the centre.

World Cup Final Prediction

I’m going to say France will win because I predicted them before the start of the tournament and I like to be consistent.

I think they’ll do it because they’ve got that little bit more quality throughout. Before anyone says anything about *that* Croatian midfield, I know they’re good, and I love them, but the thing they don’t like, real, proper Modric and Rakitic kryptonite, is someone who harries them and doesn’t give them space on the ball. In N’Golo Kante, France have an excellent proponent of that.

I am looking forward to the tiny midfielder football off.

While Lloris hasn’t had one of his regular clangers, I have the greatest of doubts about Danijel Subašić’s goalkeeping. Croatia also have Vida, who is one of those players *things* happen to and I fear the next one is going to be a bad thing.

France also have Mbappe. Who is better than advertised!

There’s also more than a small part of me that wants France to win just for Didier Deschamps who I loved as a player.

2018 World Cup Semifinal Network Visualisations

Semi final team data viz

As Croatia are the team sticking out, I suspect that they are the least likely to progress.

France, Belgium and England are a giant smush still.

Spurs are the team with the most have most players left with 9, followed by Manchester City and Manchester United on 7. Manchester City lost several players when Brazil were knocked out.

Paris Saint Germain are the club team nearest the centre, while France are the national team nearest the centre.

The community view is interesting.

v0hA8p.png

There are 4 teams and 7 communities, one for each country and then 1 for Barcelona, Juventus and Liverpool. I don’t quite follow why Barcelona is separate but Monaco isn’t since they both connect 3 teams and have one player from 2 of the teams and 2 from the third. I presume Juventus are their own community because they have 1 player from Croatia and 1 from France and it’s more logical than giving Juventus to either country. However, following that logic, I’m not sure why Lovren is in the Croatia community rather than the Liverpool one, unless it’s because of the extra distance he is away from the others.

2018 World Cup Semifinal Predictions

Of the quarterfinals, the only one I called wrong was Brazil vs Belgium and I was very happy to be wrong.

I was unfortunately right that Uruguay minus Cavani lack bite, well, they still had Suarez, but that’s the wrong kind of bite 😉

I am both sad for Russia and happy for Croatia.

As for the semifinals, I cannot separate France and Belgium. France do have the feeling of having reached the semis without difficulty, and they have Mbappe (and Didier Deschamps). On the other hand, N’Golo Kante and Mbappe apart, Belgium may have the better player in most positions – I really rate the Alderwiereld / Vertonghen combination, Lloris hasn’t had his monthly clanger yet in the French goal, and that Belgian midfield are terrifyingly good.

I will stick with my France prediction from before the start of the World Cup.

It should at least be a good match.

Croatia vs England may well not be as good. But it should be interesting. Because um, yeah, they’re reasonably well matched. Or rather I have the greatest doubts about the Croatian goalie and defence, but their midfield are stonking, while England have a solid attack and a solid defence.

Logic says Croatia, an unfortunate promise to be nicer to England says England.