* DOTD = Data Of The Day *
After a packed weekend of pre-season testing in Malaysia, all eyes lay ahead on the Losail International Circuit who will be once again hosting the opening Grand Prix of the season on March 8th!
The Malaysia test ended with mixed reviews across the board as rookies took to the circuit, riders experimented with new parts and a handful of teams were forced to reposition the focus of the weekend due to physically recovering riders.
There has been a lot of build up around the 2020 season not only because almost every rider is due for a contract renewal, but also because the series as a whole is on a strong trajectory in regards to competitiveness. The amount of last-lap battles throughout the 2019 season kept spectators on the edge of their seats as upcoming talent challenged reigning champions. The rise in competition over the past few years shows promise for the future of the sport as the series continues to grow and expand to new regions.
We could talk all day about the rise and fall of talent and competitiveness within the series, but as everyone knows, a picture is worth a thousand words. So let’s save everyone’s time and study the abstract, seemingly unrelated photo below.
Spoiler alert… this “seemingly unrelated photo” depicts a critical trend seen within the series.
What Am I Looking At?
To start, each colored block represents a different manufacturer:
Red = Ducati
Orange = Honda
Blue = Yamaha
Green = Suzuki
Yellow = KTM
White = N/A
The blocks represent the top 3 riders for each Grand Prix ranked by Combined Index for 2017, 2018 and 2019. The 2017 season is the far left column, the 2019 season is the far right column and 2018 falls in the middle.
Why Did You Rank Riders By Combined Index?
When analyzing a season, riders are often studied by their finishing position with a majority of the coverage focusing on the podium riders. By utilizing the Combined Index, we are able to identify talent beyond just the podium. Yes, sometimes the 3 podium riders bring home the strongest Combined Indexes, but this is not the case for every GP! This indexing system helps to identify talent across the grid by recognizing those who held the fastest, most consistent performance between the flags. A rider who started on the 5th row may maintain the same pace as the leading rider with superior consistency but because of his starting position, he may not be rewarded for his performance due to his non-podium finishing position.
What Can I Take Away From This Abstract Image?
The variation in color significantly increases as you move from left to right. While the top performers in 2017 primarily stemmed from Honda and Yamaha with Ducati trickling in here and there, the following seasons experienced significantly more diversity in top performing manufactures.