Incentives on the Starting Grid in Formula One Racing
The Journal of Sport, 2013, 2(2)
10 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2013 Last revised: 17 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 12, 2013
Starting a race in first place, pole position, is the goal of every race driver. This is even more pronounced in Formula One (F1) racing as the road courses they race are more difficult to pass on, providing an additional advantage to starting on the pole. However, their unique standing starts also create a bottleneck at the first turn, which often leads to contact between cars. Because F1 cars are not designed to make contact, this contact can greatly impact a driver’s position on the track. We find that there are certain positions on the starting grid that are more likely to make contact with other drivers than other positions. Specifically the starting position with the highest odds to make contact at the first turn is position 10. This creates the incentive for drivers to avoid this position, which means if they are unable to qualify higher than this position, the incentive exists for drivers to intentionally adjust their behavior to avoid these high-risk (of making contact) positions.
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