At Apolix, we think beyond the usual business processes now and then. Not only does this widen our perspective on new processes, but it also is an interesting thought exercise to force ourselves to look at things from another perspective. This article will therefore focus on Formula 1: what does a Formula 1 season look like through the eyes of Celonis?

Process Mining is Versatile

Process mining can be applied to anything, so, also Formula 1. We always tell our customers: “You have the data; we have the value”. And in fact, it’s as simple as that: where there’s data, we can extract insights through process mining. Since process mining is all about collecting the so-called digital breadcrumbs, representing when certain activities occur within a process, we can do that with any process.

The Data

To analyze a Formula 1 season with process mining, we leveraged the fantastic capabilities of the Ergast API. The Ergast API has been a reliable source of Formula 1 data for many years and captures all the results of any Formula 1 season in history. The dataset we used consists of driver data (name, nationality, number), qualification data (year, circuit, Q1-Q3 times, qualification position), and race result data (year, circuit, finishing positions, session times).

To visualize the entire course of a Formula 1 season, we defined a case (= a single run through a process) as a single driver’s season. So, one case could, for example, be Fernando Alonso in 2016.

The 2021 Formula 1 Season

In 2021, Formula 1 returned with a full calendar in the middle of the pandemic. It appeared to be a thrilling season with tense rivalries, huge controversies and an amazing season finale. But, before we dive deep into any of these specific occurrences, let’s look at the entire season through the eyes of Celonis process mining. The entire 2021 season looks like this:

All images in this article have been created in Celonis by Apolix using the Ergast API

But, what do we see in this process visualization? First, the numbers mentioned with the process activities are the case counts. In other words: the number of cases (drivers) that went through the activity.

This season, 21 drivers (Kubica participated as a reserve driver) took part in races. Hence, we see 21 times the “Season start” activity. Furthermore, 19 drivers suffered a DNF; only seven drivers managed to qualify in the top 3, and six different drivers won a race.