One of the summary statistics that often gets reported is the "laps led" count, that describes either the total number of laps each driver led for in a particular race, over a season, or over their career, or as a percentage of the number of laps they completed, or of the total number of race distance laps for the races they competed in.
The latest chapter in the Wrangling F1 Data With R book starts to look at various lead lap calculations along with several ways of visualising the results.
The following crude sketch shows lead lap counts as a percentage of race laps for various grid positions by circuit from the years 2011-2013:
There are obviously a few issues with this chart that make it difficult to read, but even so we get the impression that a circuit such as Yeongam (Korean Grand Prix) seems to result in grid-to-finish completion of the race by a single driver, whereas Silverstone, Suzuka and Catalunya perhaps make for a more uncertain spectacle. From the ordering of the circuits on y-axis, it is not clear whether races come to be more or less uncertain over the course of each season.
As well as circuit based comparisons, we can look to see how the drivers compare, this time by reporting on the counts of the actual number of laps led per season from a particular grid position by year, rather than reporting this figure as a percentage of laps completed, for example.
Although not clearly labelled, the x-axis is actually presented as a log scale to help improve readability - the highest laps led counts tend to come from starting positions at the front of the grid (the chart could be further clarified in this respect by adding a dashed line to identify the front row of the grid). The angular rotation of the text labels also helps to reduce label overlap.
This chart shows how well Alonso in particular performed in 2011 and 2012 from starts behind the front row of the grid.
See a draft preview of the chapter, or find out more about the Wrangling F1 Data With R book.