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2024 Open Wheel Model Update

by Sean Wrona

You probably didn't expect me to pump out another column so soon after my top 200 list. Neither did I, but I decided I wanted to post the update to my open wheel model before the Formula E season opener at Mexico City on January 14, the first major league open wheel race of the season. In this column, I post the overall ratings for all drivers who either ran full time and/or had five or more teammate comparisons in a major league open wheel series in 2023. Afterward, I have a second table where I look back on last year's update and compare my model's preseason projections for each teammate head-to-head and what actually happened. Finally, I updated my overall open wheel model to include several new 2024 drivers who have been announced since my last update.

2023 Open Wheel Ratings

The below table lists the ratings for all professional open wheel drivers in 2023 who either ran full-time or had five or more teammate comparisons in any combination of the four major league open wheel series (Formula 1, Formula E, IndyCar, and Super Formula). For all the open wheel drivers I included on my top 200 list, I usually referenced each driver's overall rank and rank within their series. However, those ratings were based on a model update from November 2023, which I never posted while the ratings here were calculated based on the current January 2024 model so there have been some slight changes for some drivers, especially drivers who were closely linked with drivers who have recently made or are about to make their major league debut.

Looking at these ratings, the place to draw the line for top 200 consideration clearly seemed to be between David Malukas and Zhou Guanyu. I felt Malukas deserved it based on his overall high rating in my teammate model, beating his teammate Sting Ray Robb in speed by a greater margin than the speed differentials between any other two teammates in IndyCar, not to mention becoming the first Dale Coyne driver to earn multiple podiums. I also felt Zhou and Lance Stroll did not deserve it because they did not have impressive seasons. Almost all the drivers above this imaginary line between 41st and 42nd I judged as worthy for my top 200 list, while almost all drivers below it I judged as unworthy. There were of course exceptions.

There were a few drivers with high ratings who I did not list, usually because their teammates were washed-up veterans or affected by injuries. These included Simon Pagenaud, who ended up astonishingly being the third-highest rated IndyCar driver in my model because he beat Hélio Castroneves 4-1 at a time when honestly both of them were washed up. Rinus VeeKay was likewise overrated because his teammate/boss Ed Carpenter is likewise washed up as was Ryan Hunter-Reay, who replaced Conor Daly as VeeKay's teammate in midseason. When you consider that VeeKay did basically nothing except a couple back of the top ten finishes and having the fastest average speed in the Indy 500, I didn't think he really belonged on the list. Nico Müler's teammate Robin Frijns had an early season injury so I don't think Frijns was at his best, and they were two of the three lowest-finishing regulars in the Formula E championship. Ren Sato just didn't really seem deserving with a tenth place championship finish and best finish of fifth in Super Formula, a series that is still the shallowest of the four major league open wheel series, although it was certainly stronger than usual in 2023. Edoardo Mortara finished 14th in points while Maximilian Günther finished 7th and outscored him in points 101-39, but Mortara surprisingly actually won the head-to-head. Aside from those five, I did list every other driver in the top 41.

There were a few drivers below Malukas who I did consider worthy for various reasons. I included Sergio Pérez, António Félix da Costa, and Marcus Ericsson even though they were not great because at least they had wins and at least Ericsson strongly contended to win the Indy 500. I listed Nico Hülkenberg because he did beat Kevin Magnussen in their teammate head-to-head despite a three-year absence (although Magnussen ended up higher on this list because Hülkenberg did not beat Magnussen by nearly as much as my model expected him to do). I included Jake Hughes and Oscar Piastri for their impressive rookie performances and I included Sébastien Buemi solely for his sports car performances. Finally, Callum Ilott was listed for sweeping his rookie teammate Águstin Canapino. Because Canapino had no previous teammate rating, that essentially meant Ilott's rating was pretty much entirely based on his own (still below average) rating but I am certain he had well above average performance. I'm not going to go into more detail about any of the other drivers on this list because I already did far too much of that.

1Max Verstappen0.523
2Fernando Alonso0.478
3Pato O'Ward0.445
4Mitch Evans0.417
5Lewis Hamilton0.387
6Simon Pagenaud0.381
7Pascal Wehrlein0.380
8Alex Palou0.377
9Alex Albon0.364
10Jean-Eric Vergne0.352
11Lucas di Grassi0.338
12Yuki Tsunoda0.332
13Jake Dennis0.318
14Rinus VeeKay0.291
15Ritomo Miyata0.275
16Esteban Ocon0.271
17Charles Leclerc0.262
18Sho Tsuboi0.256
19Josef Newgarden0.255
20Scott Dixon0.254
21Ryo Hirakawa0.243
22Colton Herta0.222
23Ren Sato0.221
24Nico Muller0.216
25Scott McLaughlin0.215
26Lando Norris0.208
27Tomoki Nojiri0.187
28George Russell0.168
29Nick Cassidy0.168
30Carlos Sainz, Jr.0.161
31Kyle Kirkwood0.156
32Dan Ticktum0.147
33Edoardo Mortara0.143
34Christian Lundgaard0.139
35Kamui Kobayashi0.137
36Kevin Magnussen0.103
37Maximilian Gunther0.100
38Romain Grosjean0.098
39Will Power0.096
40Liam Lawson0.075
41David Malukas0.069
42Zhou Guanyu0.061
43Lance Stroll0.059
44Nico Hulkenberg0.049
45Conor Daly0.048
46Sergio Perez0.046
47Alexander Rossi0.041
48Jake Hughes0.039
49Stoffel Vandoorne0.034
50Norman Nato0.034
51Marcus Ericsson0.027
52Rene Rast0.025
53Sam Bird0.021
54Antonio Felix da Costa0.020
55Oliver Rowland0.011
56Santino Ferrucci-0.002
57Felix Rosenqvist-0.006
58Pierre Gasly-0.019
59Ryan Hunter-Reay-0.030
60Sting Ray Robb-0.031
61Callum Ilott-0.044
62Helio Castroneves-0.047
63Robin Frijns-0.086
64Valtteri Bottas-0.098
65Sebastien Buemi-0.102
66Graham Rahal-0.106
67Oscar Piastri-0.127
68Andre Lotterer-0.130
69Sacha Fenestraz-0.165
70Kenta Yamashita-0.171
71Jack Harvey-0.193
72Benjamin Pedersen-0.199
73Tadasuke Makino-0.206
74Cem Bolukbasi-0.207
75Yuji Kunimoto-0.217
76Daniel Ricciardo-0.220
77Marcus Armstrong-0.229
78Devlin DeFrancesco-0.248
79Sergio Sette Camara-0.249
80Sena Sakaguchi-0.265
81Ed Carpenter-0.268
82Kazuto Kotaka-0.294
83Nyck de Vries-0.303
84Takuma Sato-0.318
85Logan Sargeant-0.372
86Kakunoshin Ohta-0.508
87Naoki Yamamoto-0.516
88Agustin Canapino-0.543
89Yuhi Sekiguchi-0.634

Projections vs. Reality

In last year's column, I used my model to predict the percentage of the time that each major league open wheel driver would beat their teammate(s). Because the model is designed so that the average open wheel driver at the major league level will have a rating of 0 with each driver's rating equaling the probability that they will beat an average open wheel driver at the major league level + .5, I reaized I could theoretically use the model to predict teammate head-to-heads. For example, Max Verstappen had a rating of .430 at the start of the 2023 season while Sergio Pérez was rated .128. The difference between their ratings in last year's update was .302, which indicates Pérez's expected winning percentage was .5 + .302 or 80.2%. I likewise calculated this for all open wheel teammates to make predictions for 2023, and this table shows the actual results of all teammate head-to-head comparisons compared to the expectation.

I list the driver who was higher-rated in my model as the expected favorite, while the lower-rated driver is listed as the underdog. The driver who actually won the teammate head-to-head is listed in bold type. Once again, head-to-head records only include the races in which both drivers finished. I also only compare each driver to the teammates that were announced in the 2023 preseason because those are the only teammate comparisons I listed in that original post. Additionally, it might not be as fair a comparison to compare drivers who were mid-season replacements because the chaotic nature of a mid-season driver change will usually likely hurt a team's results. So I only list Yuki Tsunoda's comparison to Nyck de Vries and not his later comparisons to Liam Lawson and Daniel Ricciardo and so on, while fully acknowledging he was very impressive for the entire year.

The model was fairly accurate in predicting which teammate would have the higher record. In 46 of the 60 teammate comparisons, the favored teammate did score a winning record against the underdog, while only 13 times did the underdog upset their teammate, which seems reasonable. There was one tie between Colton Herta and Kyle Kirkwood; they were 6-6 but I gave it to Kirkwood in the table below because he had the lower rating (and still does). Favored drivers tended to also meet their expectations, with 35 favored teammates either meeting or exceeding their expectation. Both of these results support the validity of the model in my opinion.

However, one thing I'd like to talk about is the generally large percentage differences between the expectations and the results. There are a lot of wild swings here. 29 of the 60 teammate comparisons had an expectation of within 20% of the reality, which isn't terrible, but only 17 are within 10%, which indicates that season results do not necessarily have all that much to do with the overall strengths of two teammates. This is consistent with sabermetric research in baseball that indicates even "[a] 162-games sample isn't actually long enough to tell you who is truly the best team." Although I haven't truly verified this yet, it seems likely that this also applies to racing. Auto racing seasons are obviously significanty shorter than baseball seasons so they are likely substantially more luck-dependent, particularly since a bunch of drivers and teams are competing at once rather than a series of one-on-one games. It stands to reason that racing seasons - especially open wheel seasons, which are even shorter - aren't long enough for anything to even out. And this sort of thing is why I care significantly less about who actually wins championships than I used to, and also why I have softened my hostility to things like the NASCAR playoffs. Because racing seasons are nowhere near long enough for the luck to even out, I can think of plenty of champions across all racing series who were probably never the best driver of their time, but they were good enough that when they got a few sigmas luckier while the superior drivers didn't, that was enough to make the difference.

Obviously some drivers significantly outperformed their expectations because they are now significantly better than they were in earlier years that counted towards the model. Some obvious examples of this are Yuki Tsunoda in F1, Ryō Hirakawa, Ritomo Miyata, and Sho Tsuboi in Super Formula and Jake Dennis and Nick Cassidy in Formula E. These were all among the most underrated drivers in my teammate model at the start of the year (even at the time, I thought Tsunoda was the most underrated). Others did so because their teammates were rookies (such as Alex Albon, Lando Norris, and all the Ganassi IndyCar drivers) while others beat their expectation by blowing out teammates that were washed up (like all the teammates of Ed Carpenter, Takuma Sato, or Ryan Hunter-Reay).

The ones I want to focus on are significant overachievements against teammates who are still in their prime years. Hirakawa had the biggest blowout against a driver in his prime in 2023. Not only did he sweep his teammate Yuhi Sekiguchi, he finished 5th in the championship with 58 points while Sekiguchi finished 21st with 0 points. Sekiguchi is still in his mid-30s and has won 7 Super Formula races and a Super GT title and prior to 2023, he had only finished outside the top ten in the points standings once. That is pretty amazing. Miyata's performance against Giuliano Alesi was very similar (bear in mind that while Miyata was one of the best drivers in the world in 2023, prior to last season, Alesi had a Super Formula win and Miyata did not). Pato O'Ward's near-sweep of Alexander Rossi is pretty astonishing when he was only expected to beat him less than 60% of the time. Rossi still has more IndyCar wins than O'Ward and came closer to being a title contender, but O'Ward just steamrolled him, resulting in him being the third-ranked driver of 2023 and overtaking Josef Newgarden to become the highest-rated IndyCar regular.

The two biggest upsets of an uninjured veteran were both also in IndyCar. Christian Lundgaard truly demolished Graham Rahal and it was very unexpected because Rahal had never lost to a teammate since his breakout season in 2015. Since Lundgaard was pretty close to Rahal as a rookie, I wasn't surprised he had a better season but I was very surprised that he ended up beating Rahal 9-3, curiously by the exact same margin as his fellow 2022 rookie David Malukas beat Rahal's long-time teammate Takuma Sato the year before. Álex Palou's defeat of Scott Dixon and Nick Cassidy's performance against Sébastien Buemi are also really impressive since although both of those drivers' best years are likely behind them, they are both still highly relevant drivers and I'd be hard-pressed to say either of them are washed up yet. Granted, Cassidy's performance against expectations would have been nowhere near that high if Cassidy were correctly rated, but now that Yuki Tsunoda has shot up, Cassidy is probably the most underrated driver in my model overall right now.

Finally, I wanted to take a look at the performances of last year's rookies to attempt to estimate how much rookies underachieve their expectations, which could help me in terms of developing an age curve in the future if I ever choose to do that. There were nine rookies newly added to my model at the start of 2023, plus one who was established in another series. There drivers with their performance vs. expectations were: Marcus Armstrong (-19.9% vs. Álex Palou, -9.9% vs. Scott Dixon, -1.1% vs. Marcus Ericsson), Nyck de Vries (-68.8%), Jake Hughes (+19.8%), Raoul Hyman (0.0%), Liam Lawson (-1.8%), Kakunoshin Ohta (-43.9%), Benjamin Pedersen (+0.7%), Oscar Piastri (-23.6%), Sting Ray Robb (+17.1%), and Logan Sargeant (-42.6%). These eleven teammate comparisons averaged out to -14.5%, which suggests that on average rookies underachieve their expectations by about 15%, so for any rookies you seen on the final overall table, it's reasonable to speculate that they might underachieve their expectation by about that much although that obviously varies according to the rookie. It's particularly worth noting that Hughes was really the only rookie who vastly surpassed his expectation since Robb's is clearly inflated because his finishing record against David Malukas was a lot better than his performance. So for Théo Pourchaire, don't automatically expect he will in fact beat a veteran like Yuji Kunimoto 77.5% of the time. However, judging by the fact that Lawson only barely underachieved against Tomoki Nojiri, I wouldn't be surprised if Pourchaire pretty much duplicates that performance either.

EricssonT. Sato64.3%3-0100.0%35.7%
PalouT. Sato72.7%3-0100.0%27.3%
Wehrleinda Costa51.6%9-469.2%17.6%
DixonT. Sato82.7%3-0100.0%17.3%
R. SatoYamamoto70.9%4-180.0%9.1%
di GrassiRowland66.7%4-266.7%0.0%
de VriesTsunoda93.8%2-625.0%-68.8%

The Model

Although I've already mentioned it, I guess the biggest news with this model update is that Max Verstappen overtook Fernando Alonso to become the highest-rated active driver in the model. Even though both drivers did beat their respective expectations against Sergio Pérez and Lance Stroll, you can see above that Verstappen beat his expectation by more, which was enough for Verstappen to both be the highest-rated driver of 2023 and overtake Alonso. It was basically inevitable given the trends in previous years that Verstappen would take the lead since in the update at the start of the 2023, Alonso and Verstappen were tied to the thousandths place but Alonso extremely narrowly held the lead if you go out to more decimal points. With how much hotter Verstappen had been recently, the surprise isn't so much that he took the lead but rather that Alonso kept it that close because after struggling against Esteban Ocon, I really didn't think Alonso would ever deliver a year like that again. Having said that, he will never get the lead back among active drivers and I expect Verstappen will likely hold on to it for years, long after whenever Alonso retires.

As I also mentioned during my top 200 list, with his second consecutive season as the highest-rated IndyCar driver, Pato O'Ward has now overtaken both Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon for the first time to be the highest-rated IndyCar driver overall with the exception of Tom Blomqvist, which deserves a big asterisk. Although Blomqvist has proven to be a very good albeit overrated sports car driver, his major league open wheel results in Formula E have not been electrifying and he is almost certainly the most overrated driver in my open wheel model right now. The reason Blomqvist is so high mainly comes down to some minor league seasons from 2010-14 when he did admittedly deliver some amazing performances, including an 18-1 near-sweep of Alex Lynn in Formula Renault UK in 2010 and a 2014 season in the European Formula 3 championship where he had four teammates at the Carlin team and trounced all of them: 17-7 against Antonio Giovinazzi, 18-6 against Jordan King, 14-3 against Ed Jones, and 21-5 against Jake Dennis. That year, he finished only behind Esteban Ocon and ahead of Verstappen in the championship. However, admittedly that was his third season in European F3 and he did not have any full-time teammates the preceding two years while Ocon and Verstappen were both rookies. I don't think he's close to as good as either of them, and he's been out of open wheel for so long and has relatively little experience in major league open wheel racing, that being a couple of extremely mediocre Formula E seasons when he lost 1-4 to António Félix da Costa and 0-2 to Mitch Evans. Both great drivers, sure, but it leaves me deeply skeptical that he'll ever do much of anything in IndyCar. He's poised for a massive fall and I think Felix Rosenqvist will utterly dominate him and gain a lot in the ratings as a result, which of course will only help Pato O'Ward since he and Rosenqvist were teammates for three years. In other words, even though O'Ward is not technically leading amongst IndyCar drivers right now, he will be soon unless David Malukas overtakes O'Ward as the team leader at McLaren. As big a Malukas booster as I have been, I can't see that happening. I think the only reason Blomqvist keeps gaining in my model despite being inactive is because he is piggybacking off Dennis's rapid improvement in Formula E. Dennis was a very mediocre minor leaguer and is now clearly one of the best drivers in the world and Blomqvist seems to be gaining primarily from this. I don't think that will last much longer.

Drivers who made massive gains in the last year include Yuki Tsunoda (+.202), Nico Müller (+.086), Álex Palou (+.084), Dan Ticktum (+.083), Sting Ray Robb (+.076), Kazuto Kotaka (+.066), Raoul Hyman (+.065), Rinus VeeKay (+.064), Liam Lawson (+.061), Pato O'Ward (+.061), Jake Hughes (+.060), Ritomo Miyata (+.059), and Maximilian Günther (+.057). Most of these aren't surprising, but I'd like to discuss a few of them. I did think Tsunoda was the most underrated driver in my model last year and I'm glad to see vindication for that. Not only did he blow out Nyck de Vries and beat Daniel Ricciardo solidly, who are both high-rated, but part of the reason he gained so much is that he had a 12-0 sweep against current Super Formula driver Ren Sato in Japanese Formula 4 in 2018, which I had missed and failed to include in my model. Since Sato was actually the highest-rated Super Formula driver in last year's update, Tsunoda gained a ton from that being added to the model in addition to his career-best season, so Tsunoda's increase was based on more than just races from 2023 even though he did have a pretty great season. Ticktum has been skyrocketing in my model for years now so it's not really a surprise to see it continue. Müler I think had an inflated season because Robin Frijns was injured while VeeKay's season was hugely inflated because Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay were washed up (besides Blomqvist, I would say VeeKay is the most overrated driver now; he does not feel that good to me). Before Conor Daly was fired, VeeKay was only beating him 3-2 and he had blown him out worse in previous years (even as someone who's been a staunch Daly critic for almost his entire career, I couldn't understand why Daly was fired last year, which I think was actually his best since his rookie season). Especially for a driver with no future like Hunter-Reay. Even though Hughes and Günther technically lost their head-to-heads, they both drastically overachieved relative to expectations and both of them beat their respective veteran teammates René Rast and Edoardo Mortara in the points standings with Hughes doing so as a rookie. This made Günther one of only three drivers who was below average rated at the start of 2023 to move above average in the current model along with Müller and Christian Lundgaard. None of those are really surprises. Robb's ascent seems very bizarre until you realize that he only lost 2-5 to David Malukas when that was expected to be a bigger blowout than that. That only happened because Robb was lucky: I'm pretty sure Malukas outran him every single race so the 5-2 result was quite misleading. Santino Ferrucci will probably beat him worse.

Drivers who dropped considerably in 2023 included Ren Sato (-.412), Kakunoshin Ohta (-.348), Oscar Piastri (-.230), Logan Sargeant (-.155), René Rast (-.077), Lando Norris (-.052), and Roberto Merhi (-.050). Sato was obviously the victim of the adjustment to the model when I added in Yuki Tsunoda's sweep of him in Japanese Formula 4, so because he doesn't have a large sample size, he plummeted when I included that in spite of his good score last year. Ohta, Piastri, and Sargeant were all rookies who had small minor league sample sizes, so those aren't surprising. Rast obviously was poised for a fall because Hughes outperformed him as a rookie. Merhi was one of the most baffling drivers in my model for years because despite a pretty atrocious F1 career, he had an absurdly high rating for quite some time (probably mainly due to beating Carlos Muñoz 20-3 in minor league series, which is understandable; even though he was a good IndyCar oval driver who had too short a career, he never really did anything on road or street courses despite getting his only win on one). and I'm glad that after his Formula E sweep in the second half of the season by Lucas di Grassi that that is no longer the case.

However, Norris will obviously require some explanation. Norris is considered by many (not by me) the second-best F1 driver and best British open wheel driver in the world. I think both Lewis Hamilton and Jake Dennis are both better (although Dennis still has some more diggin' out of the gutter to do in my model for his rating to finally become accurate) and George Russell certainly has the potential to be. The main reason for Norris's decline has nothing to do with his 2023 performance. It's simply because I newly added one of his newly-added minor league teammates to the model. Jehan Daruvala is making his Formula E debut this weekend and he and Norris were teammates a lot in 2016 and 2017 with Norris beating Daruvala by a margin of 50-16. However, Daruvala's initial rating is not great and this dragged Norris down because they had a lot of teammate comparisons. While I was personally more impressed by Norris's 2021 and 2022 than his 2023 (I think people overrated Oscar Piastri in 2023) his fall has nothing to do with last year's performance and everything to do with the effects of one of his most frequent teammates appearing in the model for the first time, and I will agree Norris is now underrated in the model. That should correct itself. I think Piastri's fall also likely dragged Norris down to an extent, and it didn't help that Piastri and Logan Sargeant were teammates in Formula 3 and Albon swept Sargeant last year while Piastri's edge over Sargeant that year was only slight.

Two drivers who would technically be eligible for the list (Super Formula rookies Ayumu Iwasa and Juju Noda) do not appear on it yet because neither of them has a teammate comparison with an established major league driver yet (I'm kind of stunned that Iwasa doesn't). However, nine new drivers do join my model for the first time either because they made their debut in a major league series in 2023 or are expected to do so in 2024. The highest-rated of these is defending Formula 2 champion Théo Pourchaire at .162, who will be competing in Super Formula in 2024 for Team Impul, the team owned by Japan's all-time greatest driver Kazuyoshi Hoshino. Pourchaire is mainly this high because of his 14-2 defeat of Christian Lundgaard in F2 in 2021. Since Pourchaire was a 18-year-old rookie and Lundgaard was a 20-year-old sophomore that year, this explains why I erroneously expected Lundgaard to bust in IndyCar. Since he didn't, that just makes Pourchaire look better and better and as a result, Pourchaire actually debuts as the highest-rated Super Formula driver. Will he do what Liam Lawson just narrowly failed to do and win the title as a rookie? Speaking of Lawson, the fact that he beat Pourchaire 9-6 in their 2020 Formula 3 head-to-head also helped him shoot up when Pourchaire was added o the model (although Pourchaire did actually have the better championship finish and was one year younger).

Linus Lundqvist is the only other driver who debuts with an above-average rating at .115, already on par with IndyCar veterans like Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood. I was skeptical about Lundqvist at first because even though he has a lot of minor league championships (six in fact) making him look basically analogous to Kirkwood as my model also indicates, the fact that Kirkwood and David Malukas dominated him in Indy Lights in 2021 with Kirkwood winning 10 times, Malukas 7, and Lundqvist 3 even though Malukas is 2.5 years younger didn't look that great to me. At this point, I'm willing to reconsider. While Lundqvist does enter the model with a rating lower than his two former Indy Lights teammates, Malukas and Kirkwood are very good! Not being as good as them isn't necessarily a disqualification, especially since he did pretty easily win the championship the next year. This might go down in history as one of the greatest Indy Lights classes, much like 1997 when a triumvirate of future Brazilian stars: Tony Kanaan, Hélio Castroneves, and Cristiano da Matta swept the top three positions in points and then da Matta won the title after Kanaan and Castroneves both advanced to CART. My guess is in the long run Lundqvist will be the worst of the three but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm wrong since he does have more minor league titles than the other two. It is noteworthy that Lundqvist did beat his teammate Castroneves in the first two races he finished and set two fastest laps in his first three races. I can see why Ganassi wanted him, although I would have rather seen either Malukas or Callum Ilott get that car but it probably came down to sponsorship. I wouldn't be surprised if Huski Chocolate is remaining there to sweeten the deal as one Swede replaces another. At least he does seem to be talented and he's already higher-rated than Marcus Ericsson, the driver he's replacing. Although Lundqvist's hiring felt a bit like he was jumping to the head of the line ahead of other drivers who had paid their dues more, it will be interesting to see the three 2021 Indy Lights rivals all in competitive cars now unlike last year when Malukas was driving for Coyne and Lundqvist was driving for part-time for Shank, neither of which was great. It just mildly annoys me that Ganassi chose Lundqvist over Malukas and Ilott and especially that Ilott got frozen out of the paddock in a year when so many inferior drivers got signed, but I should save most of my criticism for those other two Ganassi drivers.

The other seven drivers debuting in my ratings are Jehan Daruvala (-.105), who I have little to say about yet but has numerous connections to established major league drivers, David Beckmann (-.127), who filled in as Jake Dennis's teammate in Formula E for the Jakarta round when André Lotterer was preparing for Le Mans, Indy NXT champion Christian Rasmussen (-.156, who seems pretty average for rising IndyCar feeder drivers), the first Turkish Super Formula driver Cem Bölükbaşı (-.208), 2024 Super Formula rookie Iori Kimura (-.221), and two IndyCar drivers who are worthy of a bit more discussion.

Chip Ganassi's other IndyCar rookie Kyffin Simpson debuts in the #4 car for 2024, and yesterday the team tweeted out a ridiculous montage celebrating the #4 car and its history as if Simpson belongs in the lineage of Alex Zanardi and Juan Pablo Montoya. He'll never be either of them and I'm pretty sure he's the worst IndyCar driver Ganassi has ever signed. Even the other ride buyers (Sebastián Saavedra, Charlie Kimball, Max Chilton, etc...) were all better than I think he ever will be. To be fair, Simpson did win the premier European Le Mans title and he was definitely one of the leaders on the team but that series has nowhere near the prestige of WEC and IMSA. He did score a class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring also but I think Scott McLaughlin was 99% responsible for it. Simpson's open wheel results have not been inspiring: David Malukas swept him 8-0 and Lundqvist swept him 6-0 in the IndyCar minor leagues and he only finished 10th in points last year. He is still only 19 and most of the guys he's racing against were older (and he did beat his teammate Josh Pierson, a younger driver who is also pegged as a future star more on the basis of his sports car accompishments than his open wheel accomplishments). But I am just not buying it. With a debut rating of -.347, I'm pretty sure he's the worst Ganassi IndyCar signing ever.

Finally, Águstin Canapino debuts at the very bottom of the list at -.544. I know last year was his first season ever in major league open wheel cars, so it was going to be a rough learning curve for him, but I don't think he's anywhere near that bad. In fact, I do think Canapino was the most impressive of the four rookies in 2023 (but that's not saying a lot since none of them impressed me, especially relative to the stellar 2022 rookie class). He is simply last because his teammate Callum Ilott swept him in their 2023 shared finishes, but they were actually pretty close in speed with Ilott's speed percentile of 29.80 and Canapino's 22.54 were a lot closer than you'd expect and Canapino actually was faster on the ovals. Although he's projected to get swept by Romain Grosjean, which makes sense statistically since Ilott swept him and Grosjean is higher-rated than Ilott, I am absolutely certain that will not happen. I wouldn't even be surprised if Canapino was better than Grosjean; Canapino was one of the best drivers in the world for a while in his touring car years and Grosjean was never that. And we certainly saw Scott McLaughlin also improve significantly in his second year after he had a year of preparation in open wheel cars. He'll probably gain a lot of ground this year and there's a possibility he might even be able to drag Ilott above average in my model if he matches up well enough against Grosjean.

The below driver lists the evolution of each driver's ratings through the last four public iterations of my model, from November 2021 (which I didn't post at the time but have in retrospect), my first iteration of the post-war open wheel model in August 2022, my February 2023 model update, and my current 2024 model for all drivers who either made a start in 2023 in one of the four open wheel major leagues or are expected to do so in 2024. I threw in J.R. Hildebrand even though neither of those necessarily apply to him because there are rumors of him making another Indy start and I think it will probably happen with Dreyer & Reinbold. I think from now on I'm going to do one public update a year at the start of each year's racing season and model the columns like this. I will have one for NASCAR coming up probably in the week before the Daytona 500, but I wanted to make sure I got this done before the Formula E season opener. Thank you and good night.

Max Verstappen0.4260.4230.4300.44682.3% vs. Perez
Fernando Alonso0.4730.4330.4300.43483.1% vs. Stroll
Lewis Hamilton0.4010.3670.3600.35665.6% vs. Russell
Charles Leclerc0.3240.3000.3000.30468.5% vs. Sainz
Mitch Evans0.2940.2920.2730.29982.9% vs. Cassidy
Tom Blomqvist0.2560.2570.2640.27365.4% vs. Rosenqvist
Pato O'Ward0.2140.1950.1960.25757.3% vs. Malukas, 66.3% vs. Rossi
Josef Newgarden0.2610.2520.2510.25557.5% vs. Power, 62.4% vs. McLaughlin
Scott Dixon0.2550.2480.2450.25152.2% vs. Palou, 63.6% vs. Lundqvist, 88.3% vs. Armstrong, 100.0% vs. Simpson
Daniel Ricciardo0.2880.2710.2600.24279.5% vs. Tsunoda
Alex Palou0.2070.1520.1450.22947.8% vs. Dixon, 61.4% vs. Lundqvist, 86.1% vs. Armstrong, 100.0% vs. Simpson
Edoardo Mortara0.2470.2510.2550.22555.7% vs. de Vries
Pascal Wehrlein0.1830.1910.2060.21252.5% vs. da Costa
Stoffel Vandoorne0.2320.2290.2250.20953.2% vs. Vergne
Colton Herta0.2190.2050.2070.20859.1% vs. Kirkwood, 64.3% vs. Ericsson
George Russell0.1310.1560.1820.20034.4% vs. Hamilton
Antonio Felix da Costa0.2520.2010.1900.18747.5% vs. Wehrlein
David Malukas0.1200.1650.18442.7% vs. O'Ward, 59.0% vs. Rossi
Will Power0.1820.1840.1830.18042.5% vs. Newgarden, 54.9% vs. McLaughlin
Lucas di Grassi0.1850.1700.1860.17766.3% vs. Muller
Jean-Eric Vergne0.1800.1800.1780.17746.8% vs. Vandoorne
Nyck de Vries0.1710.1710.1830.16844.3% vs. Mortara
Theo Pourchaire0.16277.5% vs. Kunimoto
Rinus VeeKay0.1160.0820.0980.16276.0% vs. Carpenter, 81.8% vs. Rasmussen
Lando Norris0.1360.1860.2030.15172.0% vs. Piastri
Valtteri Bottas0.2030.1800.1680.14983.5% vs. Zhou
Tony Kanaan0.1600.1520.1510.148
Simon Pagenaud0.1420.1440.1430.148
Esteban Ocon0.0910.1370.1340.14754.3% vs. Gasly
Sam Bird0.1490.1470.1520.13966.0% vs. Hughes
Nico Hulkenberg0.1570.1470.1460.13762.1% vs. Magnussen
Scott McLaughlin0.0050.0900.0960.13137.6% vs. Newgarden, 45.1% vs. Power
Tomoki Nojiri0.1220.1070.1080.130N/A vs. Iwasa
Alex Albon0.0750.0810.0930.12876.4% vs. Sargeant
Sergio Perez0.1270.1290.1280.12317.7% vs. Verstappen
Carlos Sainz, Jr.0.1090.1140.1190.11931.5% vs. Leclerc
Felix Rosenqvist0.1170.1130.1160.11934.6% vs. Blomqvist
Kyle Kirkwood0.0690.0850.11740.9% vs. Herta, 55.2% vs. Ericsson
Robin Frijns0.1610.1230.1220.11652.0% vs. Buemi
Liam Lawson0.0550.116
Linus Lundqvist0.11536.4% vs. Dixon, 38.6% vs. Palou, 74.7% vs. Armstrong, 96.2% vs. Simpson
Andre Lotterer0.1460.1270.1170.112
Pierre Gasly0.0880.0810.0710.10445.7% vs. Ocon
Lance Stroll0.0630.0750.0920.10316.9% vs. Alonso
Romain Grosjean0.1240.1050.1030.102100.0% vs. Canapino
Sebastien Buemi0.0990.1210.1400.09648.0% vs. Frijns
Alexander Rossi0.1100.1010.1020.09433.7% vs. O'Ward, 41.0% vs. Malukas
Rene Rast0.1320.1160.1610.084
Helio Castroneves0.0720.0850.0850.081
J.R. Hildebrand0.0540.0700.0710.074
Jake Dennis0.0010.0280.0480.07062.0% vs. Nato
Graham Rahal0.0760.0900.0880.07056.7% vs. Lundgaard, 85.1% vs. Fittipaldi
Sho Tsuboi0.0080.0040.0210.06972.9% vs. Sasahara
Marcus Ericsson0.0540.0590.0610.06535.7% vs. Herta, 44.8% vs. Kirkwood
Roberto Merhi0.1750.1040.1090.059
Ryan Hunter-Reay0.0490.0400.0400.033
Kamui Kobayashi0.0340.0210.0240.03351.9% vs. Fukuzumi
Santino Ferrucci0.0340.0460.0020.02967.4% vs. Robb
Oliver Rowland0.0000.0180.0190.02360.5% vs. Fenestraz
Maximilian Gunther-0.078-0.066-0.0390.01862.3% vs. Daruvala
Kevin Magnussen0.0640.0120.0060.01637.9% vs. Hulkenberg
Nirei Fukuzumi-0.013-0.0090.0040.01448.1% vs. Kobayashi
Nico Muller-0.131-0.078-0.0720.01433.7% vs. di Grassi
Christian Lundgaard-0.406-0.021-0.0260.00343.3% vs. Rahal, 78.4% vs. Fittipaldi
Nobuharu Matsushita-0.030-0.029-0.024-0.010
Jake Hughes-0.081-0.02134.0% vs. Bird
Dan Ticktum-0.289-0.216-0.105-0.02255.8% vs. Camara
Nick Cassidy-0.064-0.060-0.062-0.03017.1% vs. Evans
Toshiki Oyu-0.117-0.083-0.078-0.04053.8% vs. Sakaguchi
Callum Ilott-0.150-0.133-0.088-0.043
Kenta Yamashita-0.025-0.042-0.035-0.04487.7% vs. Kotaka
Norman Nato-0.041-0.057-0.052-0.05038.0% vs. Dennis
Yuki Tsunoda-0.329-0.272-0.255-0.05320.5% vs. Ricciardo
Naoki Yamamoto0.011-0.014-0.014-0.06065.6% vs. R. Sato
Kazuya Oshima-0.036-0.061-0.063-0.068
Oscar Piastri0.161-0.06928.0% vs. Norris
Sena Sakaguchi-0.038-0.081-0.089-0.07846.2% vs. Oyu
Sergio Sette Camara-0.183-0.107-0.099-0.08044.2% vs. Ticktum
Ritomo Miyata-0.167-0.158-0.140-0.081
Sacha Fenestraz-0.1160.0040.012-0.08239.5% vs. Rowland
Conor Daly-0.100-0.116-0.112-0.086
Takuma Sato-0.077-0.080-0.082-0.094
Marco Andretti-0.080-0.090-0.090-0.097
Ed Carpenter-0.042-0.090-0.088-0.09824.0% vs. VeeKay
Jehan Daruvala-0.10537.7% vs. Gunther
Yuji Kunimoto-0.071-0.094-0.101-0.11322.5% vs. Pourchaire
David Beckmann-0.127
Marcus Armstrong-0.156-0.13211.7% vs. Dixon, 13.9% vs. Palou, 25.3% vs. Lundqvist, 71.5% vs. Simpson
Ryo Hirakawa-0.195-0.172-0.168-0.134
Logan Sargeant0.019-0.13623.6% vs. Albon
Sting Ray Robb-0.221-0.14532.6% vs. Ferrucci
Christian Rasmussen-0.15618.0% vs. VeeKay
Juri Vips-0.465-0.395-0.198-0.158
Ukyo Sasahara-0.256-0.230-0.202-0.16027.1% vs. Tsuboi
Jack Harvey-0.104-0.166-0.168-0.166
Zhou Guanyu-0.205-0.227-0.18616.5% vs. Bottas
Cem Bolukbasi-0.208
Ren Sato0.1000.196-0.21634.4% vs. Yamamoto
Iori Kimura-0.221
Devlin DeFrancesco-0.195-0.188-0.222
Benjamin Pedersen-0.231-0.229
Yuhi Sekiguchi-0.217-0.231-0.227-0.257
Tadasuke Makino-0.339-0.277-0.297-0.25869.8% vs. Ohta
Stefan Wilson-0.252-0.256-0.257-0.259
R.C. Enerson-0.227-0.281-0.282-0.277
Pietro Fittipaldi-0.275-0.282-0.289-0.28114.9% vs. Rahal, 21.6% vs. Lundgaard
Giuliano Alesi-0.215-0.221-0.252-0.290
Kyffin Simpson-0.3470.0% vs. Dixon, 0.0% vs. Palou, 3.8% vs. Lundqvist, 28.5% vs. Armstrong
Hiroki Otsu-0.232-0.381-0.386-0.375
Katherine Legge-0.396-0.399-0.402-0.403
Kazuto Kotaka-0.500-0.499-0.487-0.42112.3% vs. Yamashita
Kakunoshin Ohta-0.108-0.45630.2% vs. Makino
Raoul Hyman-0.583-0.518
Agustin Canapino-0.5440.0% vs. Grosjean
Sean Wrona is the Managing Editor of racermetrics.com, the Webmaster of race-database.com, and the winner of the 2010 Ultimate Typing Championship at the SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin. He earned a master's in applied statistics from Cornell University in 2008 and previously digitized several seasons of NBA box scores on basketball-reference.com. He released his first book, Nerds Per Minute: A History of Competitive Typing, in 2021. You may contact him at sean.wrona@gmail.com.