The Inventor

OK, I don’t know if you’d really call the intelligentF1 model an invention, but it fits the alliteration.

James Beck has been modelling complex engineering systems for 15 years. Originally a Computational Fluid Dynamics engineer/scientist, he has worked on Data Assimilation schemes at the Met Office and spent four years in charge of the aerodynamics and re-entry heating of the latest European Space Agency mission to Mars. His friends tease him that it’s not rocket science.

He now spends a lot of his time running a business working on making sure satellites are designed to burn up properly on re-entry so the bits don’t survive and land on people. A couple more European Space Agency projects on the go – and hoping to get stuck into the business of getting rid of space debris.

An avid motor racing fan, he first attended a Grand Prix in 1988 and got very wet. His favourite trackside memory is yelling ‘Johnny Herbert is going to win the race’ whilst standing at Copse corner watching Damon Hill using Michael Schumacher as a brake on the big screen. He always felt that there was much more insight to be gained from the huge amount of timing data generated at a Grand Prix weekend, and as he couldn’t find anyone else doing it, he thought he’d have a go.

He lives in Ashford, Kent  in the UK and has a wife and three children.

16 Responses “The Inventor” →

  1. juan mateo horrach torrens

    October 22, 2011

    Hello James,

    Congratulations for your web. For me, is the most interesting thing i have seen about f1 in a lot of time. I also have a master degree in industrial engineering, and it seems that older than you, because my falling in love with f1 begins in the 60`s. I work in the environmental sector, but my main passion is f1. I believe that f1 represents the best combination of intelligence, determination, thecnnical sofistication, courage and glamour.
    For all the people wich wants to go deeper inside and discover the real value of each one, your web is a big improvement.
    Thank you very much, and, please, dont stop.

    Juan Mateo Horrach Torrens

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad that you like what I’m trying to do. If you have ideas for things you think I might be able to analyse, then let me know, and I’ll see what I can do.

  2. Amazing stuff! I am currently a Geography student at the University of Florida working in the Medical Geography department, but I always love the plethora of data that is generated by these races. I have done GIS analyses of the Nurburgring Nordschleife with temperature and precipitation and determining the most dangerous parts of the track based on grip. I have a school project using programming with R and I hope to study many of your analyses to develop my own project ideas, because I want to do a statistical analysis of F1 data from a particular race this year.

    From what I understand, is a majority of your data strictly generated from the Live Timing resource that is available on F1’s website and positional data from races. Cheers and thank you for this great resource! A dream job would be a data analyst for the FIA or a team, haha! Again great work, and I will be citing you within my project!

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    The data comes from the FIA media centre and is published after the race – I use the laptime data only as all the positions can be generated from that. The intelligentF1 model is designed to add value to the data to give more insight into the races. There is work going on to model the races live using the live timing data stream – hopefully then it’ll be something helping to understand the races in real time.


    • mjridge58

      October 2, 2014

      Hi James. Great Work!

      How did you get the tyre type data for the different stints of the race? There is only timing data on the FIA website.

      • For most of the races you can tell from the times – otherwise there’s usually data on other sites to corroborate what I see on the screen or in the model. More recently, there have been useful graphics at stages of the race.

  4. Hannes Groenewald

    March 22, 2013

    Hi, thanks for the great work!
    When will you have the Malaysia graph ready?

    • Just got the FIA data. Not as easy this week with the rain – there’s key people with data which is not reliable. But we’ll see what we can say.

  5. Congratulations on a very interesting blog! Only followed your data analysis for one race weekend and one practice so far and looking forward to see how the data/analysis stacks up to real life over the season. So nice to see science applied in practice, should be very inspirational to the kids wondering what use maths and other sciences have in practice. I’ll be recommending your blog to all F1 fans I know.

    • Thankyou very much. I’ve done a bit of work on how it stacks up. Part of the reason I like doing the Friday work is that there is some credibility to it when it works…

  6. Couldn’t find a way to message you directly…I run GP evolved, a blog that’s tracing the history of Formula 1. You certainly have an innovative take on race data. Hit me up over at my site if you ever have any thoughts about a vintage race data collaboration.

  7. Hi James, great ideas and very interesting data. I cannot find a way to contact you directly and would appreciate you coming back to me with an e-mail address so that I can run something past you that may be of on-going interest utilising your F1 data ideas.


  8. Steven Shack

    October 12, 2014

    Hi James,
    Where is the data located on the FIA website? I’ve looked for it, but can’t find it for the life of me. I’m interested in doing a bit of my own analysis.


    • They’ve changed it a bit. So, start at

      and choose your race from the ciruit maps on the right.

      Then go for Event Information (currently third pic on top row)

      Then choose the session (eg race) from the pictures on the right.

      For practices you want Lap Times.

      For the race you want Lap Analysis, but you need to get the first laps from History Chart (or you can just use the history chart if you want).

      Hope this helps.

      • Hi James…
        Are you still doing the intelligentf1 models? I’m trying to cobble together my scripts from over the years into and would love to be able to try to replicate some of the models you’ve used. (I can let you have a coupon for the pdf if you want a copy.)

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  1. Sports Data Journalism and “Datatainment” « OUseful.Info, the blog…

    […] Again looking at Formula One, the Intelligent F1 blog features a data-powered model developed by a rocket scientist that provides engagment oaround a particular race over an extended period, from predicting Sunday […]

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