Obviously, those who know me, know that my title is ironic. In fact, I don’t claim to compete with Formula 1 drivers of all times and I have no intentions whatsoever to believe that I could easily be faster than them on the track. However, when I look at the FIA’s ranking of the ten fastest drivers of the last 40 years, I think my name could just as easily have been on that list. No one will dispute the first position obtained by Ayrton Senna. Yet, one may wonder how exceptional men like Gilles Villeneuve and Alain Prost did not find their way in this ranking.
We can also wonder why it is that good but inexperienced drivers such as Max Verstappen or Charles Leclerc have actually made it on that specific ranking list. The reason for these dubious decisions are due to the choice of statistics and the calculations made by artificial intelligence.
The ranking of the FIA was set by a complicated algorithm, the details of which are unknown. According to the organization, it would take into account the connection between teammates and the times achieved in order to obtain a single datum; the best classification time for all periods combined together. Moreover, that statistic is obtained while supposedly removing the “best car” data.
I am now grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw very hard because as much it is impossible to classify the best driver solely on the basis of the number of victories (go back to Schumacher’s victory when Barrichello gave him the passage which still counts in the total or the number of championship titles of the world) as much as we cannot compare talent nor eras.
Quick question: Would one like Charles Leclerc or Lewis Hamilton be able to fine-tune their car’s performance with such precision if real-time data acquisition did not exist? Yet, that’s what the ones such as Villeneuve and Senna did all the time.
Furthermore, if we compare you to your teammates, isn’t it just like backstabbing Alain Prost directly in the back, who must be more often than not compared to champion Ayrton Senna in such a given context?
Anyway, that kind of classification is as useful as having ice cream outside in winter! Some people still enjoy it whereas most people will definitely prefer piping hot coffee to warm themselves up which is much more practical considering the season! The ranking does not do justice to the talent of the pilots, nor can it measure the real impact of the technologies that have evolved since then. To conclude, real talent is difficult to compare. Can artificial intelligence devoid of judgment do it?